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Taking Stock Of The Philadelphia Eagles And What They've Done

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

We’re into the third month of the Doug Pederson Era and the Eagles have been busy in the offseason making over the roster, clearing up their salary-cap situation and improving their draft positioning. The lines of communication at the NovaCare Complex are wide open. The energy level is great, very positive, encouraging.

Players report next week for the start of the offseason conditioning program, kicking off a super-busy April that concludes with the NFL draft.

It’s taken some time to get the pulse of everything that has transpired here and to put into perspective the direction the Eagles are taking. Some thoughts …

  • The Eagles are going to be fun to watch on defense. Coordinator Jim Schwartz likes his players to play aggressive, passionate football. He wants players with personality and who are physical and who are going to be fast to the football. Bill Davis tried a lot of different things in his three seasons here, but the Eagles just never put together a sustained period of consistent defensive football. Maybe he wasn’t aggressive enough. Maybe the scheme didn’t fit the personnel. Maybe the offensive tempo helped wear out the defense. Maybe it was a combination of a lot of things. Schwartz brings a career of defensive success to the table here and he has some good pieces already in place. Would still like to see another pass rusher here both off the edge and inside.

  • The offense that Pederson plans to run has a lot of similarities in concepts to what Chip Kelly ran here in terms of formations – the Eagles used a lot of 3 by 1, which means three eligible receivers to one side of the formation and one eligible receiver to the other side of the formation, and you will see some of that with Pederson – but I think the running game is going to be a lot different. More power running. More drive blocking. How much more will the Eagles run with quarterback Sam Bradford under center? That’s the big question.

  • Speaking of running game, the Eagles are going to add a back in the draft, or from the players still available in free agency. Would they use the eighth pick in the first round on a running back? Sure, and that’s what they are doing between now and April 28 – establishing their draft board and preparing to take the best player on the board when it comes their time to pick. Yes, a running back is in play. How likely? I don’t honestly know.

  • Think about this as you imagine the offense: The Eagles have three offensive coaches in Pederson, coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo who used their tight ends extensively in 2015. In Kansas City with Pederson, tight end Travis Kelce had 72 catches and 875 yards. In San Diego with Reich, future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates played in only 11 games but had 56 receptions and his accomplishments, of course, speak for themselves. In Cleveland with DeFilippo, Gary Barnidge exploded for 79 receptions, 1,043 yards and 9 touchdowns. So, yeah, it’s fair to say that the offense will look to Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton a lot in the passing game.

  • And just for the record, even if Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray go on to have Pro Bowl seasons in 2016, Howie Roseman deserves every bit of credit for pulling off the trades that sent Maxwell and Alonso to Miami and Murray to Tennessee. The Eagles now have the eighth pick in the draft and the second pick in the fourth round (100 overall) as compensation. Great moves by Roseman, who cleared up the salary cap problems and rid the Eagles of onerous contracts.

  • Interested to see how it all pans out at wide receiver with additions Chris Givens and Rueben Randle via free agency and new coach Greg Lewis. The Eagles led the league in dropped passes last year and that’s something that Lewis has vowed to fix. Lewis knows he has Jordan Matthews as his most productive receiver. Then he’s got Randle, who had some success in New York for four seasons – a lot of inconsistency, but also some success. Givens had a strong rookie season in St. Louis and his numbers have since fallen. Nelson Agholor is going to have to have a huge jump from an unproductive rookie season. It’s a big challenge for Lewis. I think improved coaching here is going to make a big difference.

  • Needs on this team? Still a lot, really. Honestly, is there a position you would ignore in the draft, other than maybe tight end? The Eagles are still in a position where they have to stay true to their board and take the best player available. I’d say offensive line, linebacker and pass rush are the top three needs at this point, with running back very much in the mix.

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