Eagles news and notes for 11/19
Walk around the Philadelphia area and you're bound to encounter a fan in an Eagles player's jersey. The number on that jersey is determined by Greg Delimitros, the team's director of equipment operations, now in his 13th year with the Eagles.
Delimitros starts with a 90-man roster and works within restrictions from the NFL, noting numbers that are off-limits by the league, and the need to satisfy the demands of some players who are more particular than others.
"I call those guys as soon as they get drafted, and I give them their options of what numbers are available," Delimitros said. "If somebody's gung-ho about a number and another player is wearing that number, depending who it is, then we can possibly swap out. Plus, you've got to go through league protocol."
The Eagles have formally retired Nos. 5, 15, 20, 40, 44, 60, 70, 92, and 99.
They also don't like to give away Randall Cunningham's No. 12. So that's 10 numbers that players cannot claim.
Then the NFL has restrictions by positions.
With the Eagles clinging to an uneasy, 7-6 lead over the Falcons last Sunday, Schwartz had a slight problem. OK, not so slight.
One of his starting corners, Nolan Carroll, had just been ordered by a neurologist to take the rest of the day off after suffering a concussion when he collided with teammate Jordan Hicks.
His other starting corner, Leodis McKelvin, was limping around the locker room at halftime on an achy breaky hamstring.
Down the hall in the visitors' locker room was one of the league's best wide receivers, Julio Jones. Jones already had caught six passes for 73 yards in the first half, and Schwartz was trying to figure out a plan for trying to cover him in the second half when Mills came up to him.
"Julio had already had a couple of good catches, and I knew Leodis' hamstring was 80-90 percent and he wasn't himself," the seventh-round rookie said.
"Going into halftime, going over the game plan as far as how we were going to adjust (without Carroll and with a gimpy McKelvin), I just told coach, 'Hey coach, just let me follow 11 (Jones). Whether he goes left or right.' With no hesitation, he said, sure."
Schwartz didn't really have a whole lot of other options and had pretty much already decided to have Mills shadow the three-time Pro Bowler. But he was impressed with the kid's moxie. I mean, what rookie stands up and says, "I'll take the guy nobody else wants."
Before joining the Eagles on a two-year deal this offseason, Bradham spent the first four years of his career with the Buffalo Bills, which meant facing New England and Gronk twice per year. He also faced Kansas City three times since Kelce was drafted in 2013.
Bradham, who figures to be lined up against Graham plenty during Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, said his past experiences will help him, but Graham is a unique player from other great tight ends.
“To me, he knows how to use his body and put his body in the right position, kind of like basketball. He can do it,” Bradham said. “He's one of those type of guys and he was obviously a big-time rebounder when he played basketball, so he has the ability to go up. And the last guy that was something similar like that, but still different, was Antonio Gates. But he's still different because he's slimmer than Antonio and his mobility is probably better. He's just one of those type of guys who you just have to be on your A-game against.”
So how will Bradham go about trying to stop Graham?
“Me personally, I think just being physical,” he said. “Being able to be physical, no tight end or receiver likes playing that game. It just plays in my favor. Just have to use that as my advantage.”
This season, Graham has had a resurgent year. Through nine games, Graham has 42 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns. Only Carolina’s Greg Olsen (712) has more receiving yards among tight ends this season.
The Eagles defense loves to attack. They use the Wide-9 front and then attack gaps with LBs. Jim Schwartz wants aggressive DBs who will take some chances. He has developed this system over years and has definitive ideas on what he is looking for.
There isn’t necessarily a style that the STs units follow, but Dave Fipp has shown the ability to find the kind of players he wants and then use them successfully.
Those are two veteran coaches who know what they want and how to get the best out of their players.
Doug Pederson is a rookie coach. He was the offensive coordinator in KC the past two years, but he was running Andy Reid’s system. Pederson got to call some plays and had a hand in gameplans. He helped to evaluate draft prospects and offered his opinion on free agents. Still, at the end of the day, it was Big Red who ran the offense and made the key decisions.
Any time a new coach takes over a team he has to figure out the players. This goes beyond simple evaluations. Tape shows you part of the equation, but you need to be around players every day to get the whole picture. You need to see which guys practice well. Who is great in the classroom? Who can play through pain/injury? Which guys are selfish and which ones are great teammates? Coaches need to know all of this (and more) as they try to figure out their new players.
Pederson is dealing with the double whammy of learning his new players and trying to figure out what he wants to do. You can really see that at times.
The Seahawks are 6-2-1 and coming off an impressive win at New England on Sunday night. The offense has weapons, led by quarterback Russell Wilson. On defense, the secondary is known as, of course, the Legion of Boom.
Then, there is the stadium, which opened in 2002 as Seahawks Stadium, became Qwest Field in 2005 and then CenturyLink Field in 2012. Seattle has compiled an 82-34 record overall there, with a 31-5 record since 2012, including a 4-0 mark this season after losing three home games in 2015. The "12s," as the Seahawks fans are known, collectively, bring it loud and with energy on every play.
Welcome, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, to perhaps the most difficult road assignment in the NFL.
“I think the biggest thing is you need to communicate a lot. You need to over-communicate,” Wentz said on Wednesday at his weekly press conference at the NovaCare Complex. “You need to work on hand signals both with the O-linemen and the receivers. You’ve got to work through a lot of those things. But those are things we’ve done already. We’ve done those in Chicago. We’ve done those in Washington. Obviously, it will be louder, but if you already have those set in stone, I don’t think it should be too big of an effect. We’ve got to be ready for it, that’s for sure.”