With the Eagles resting their starters and key backups in Thursday's preseason finale against the New York Jets, all eyes will be on quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow. Both signal callers are locked in a battle for the third quarterback spot on the roster, and a strong performance could help tip the scales in favor of one quarterback or the other.
Head coach Chip Kelly met the media Monday, and was asked about the progression of Tebow throughout the spring and summer.
"He's had a good camp," Kelly said. "He's got a big week again this week. The guys that are going to play against the Jets have a big week. I anticipate him working really hard like he always does.
"I've seen Tim improve since he got here. He's improved in his throwing motion since we got him in April; I think he's really worked very hard at that. [He’s worked at] sequencing his throwing motion, so I think he's been a lot more accurate with his passes."
Here are some other highlights from Kelly's press conference:
The play of the backups in Saturday's game against the Packers
Well, even with the first group, I think on [the Packers’] touchdown, the one thing that was really concerning for all of us was that we had three major penalties on that drive and one of those penalties negated an interception. We’ve got to clean up that aspect of it. I think there were too many penalties on the defensive side that extended drives.
A lot of things that Billy [Davis] was doing in the second half, we were playing a lot of coverage and not blitzing people. I think we blitzed less than 10 percent of the time and were trying to see if guys could get home in one‑on‑one, four‑man rushes. So it was just a chance for a good evaluation for us. That's kind of what we saw.
The difficulty of cutting the roster down to 53 players
I don't think it's hard because you have a deadline. It is what it is. You know, we talk probably every other day about personnel on each side of the ball and special teams. We sit in with our personnel guys and coaches talk about the individual guys at their position. So it's an every‑other‑day thing that we continue to go through. We use our full allotment of time as we go through. We have one more big test this week against the Jets to make that final decision.
The cut process itself is the hard part; you know, when you have to tell kids, like we did yesterday, tell players that they're no longer members of the Eagles. I think that's the difficult part of it ... You have to choose between Player A and Player B because there's a time when you’ve got to do it. But it's based on the full body of work that they've done since they've been here. This is a critical week for a lot of those guys because you've got to go from 75 to 53. So, we're going to have to release 22 guys after the Jets game.
Brent Celek's value to the Eagles
Huge. I think he's underrated in terms of kind of everything he does. I think he may be one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, but I think -- You know, you saw he made a great catch on the touchdown pass from Sam [Bradford] going in there in the red zone. I think he's a big target.
He's got real good range in terms of if the ball's not exactly thrown on him, he can catch it. I think his run after the catch is a little bit underrated. We have hit him on a couple screens in the last two years that he's taken pretty far. I think his value is huge, yeah.
Kelly's impressions of Trey Burton
I think Trey has done a great job. He's another guy who is in year two. I think he obviously stood out early in his career here as a special teams player, and that's why we kept four tight ends, even though we had Zach and Brent and James [Casey].
But Trey was an integral special teams player for us. We also felt like we could develop him after we released James and I think you're seeing that. I think he's good with the ball after the catch. He's got really good hands. He has a great understanding of what he's doing and he's still relatively new to the position because he really didn't play tight end -- he played quarterback, played running back, played receiver and did a lot of things -- when he was at Florida. I think he's adapted really well to what we've asked him to do.
Thoughts on the video the NFL sent regarding Terrell Suggs' hit on Sam Bradford
Those are the rules, so if you're handing the ball off, you can be hit. Whether you're underneath the center, it doesn't matter what run play you have. It was explained to us that you could have your back turned to the defense and if there's potential for you to bootleg out of it, then you can be hit ... No, it has nothing to do with the play; that was the biggest thing that we came away from it with. It doesn't matter what play you're running, if you're handing the ball off and there's a potential that you could keep it on a bootleg or whatever, you can be hit. So, those are the rules. We'll practice with the rules they got.
On outscoring teams 52-3 in the first quarter, and 86-17 in the first half
We scored a lot of points and haven't given many up. We're just trying to get better every day and improve as a group. I don't think people have game planned for us, nor have we game planned for them. I think we're all trying to get our players to get opportunities on film where you can teach them off of and also make full evaluations of guys. I'm happy with how we've performed in certain situations.
But, you know, looking at just specifically our defense the other night, those penalties, if that's a real football game, we have three major penalties on one drive, and one that negates a turnover, that could be the determining factor in winning and losing a football game. So there are some real teachable moments that came out of that Packers game.
Chip Kelly is a fan of Dennis Kelly
Dennis has been really consistent. I think this has been his best camp, to be honest with you. But he's been really consistent at both guard and tackle. We've used him on the left side and we've used him on the right side. He's got experience. He has started in games for us.
I'm a big Dennis fan. I think the one thing you know is this is what you're going to get from him every day. There are not a lot of missed assignments; there are not a lot of mental mistakes out of Dennis. He's always dialed into what he's done. We've asked him to play both guards, we've asked him to play both tackles and the only thing he hasn't played for us is center. But I think he's been really consistent and fits in really nice in terms of what we're doing.