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Eagles News: NFL analyst predicts Philadelphia will make the playoffs

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 7/20/17.

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

NFC bold predictions: Lions win North, Drew Brees slows down - NFL.com
They ride Carson Wentz and Jim Schwartz's defense into the postseason. The Eagles last made the postseason in 2013, carried by Nick Foles' epic (?) season, LeSean McCoy rushing for 1,000 yards and a buoyant wideout (DeSean Jackson). Last year's receivers couldn't keep the passing game afloat, Darren Sproles evolved (or devolved) into Philly's biggest weapon on offense and the team sputtered down the stretch. Wentz's supporting cast was anything but, well, supportive. That's where Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount come in. The Eagles have the firepower to bump scoring by 20 percent while increasing their yards per play (28th in the NFL last year) with a few more vertical connections. Schwartz's defense should presumably play faster in Year 2 after being the team's backbone in 2016. Why not Philly?

Eagles have an actual NFL wide receiving corps now - BGN
Last year, the Eagles had a wide receiving corpse. This year, the Eagles have an actual NFL wide receiving corps.

Eagles training camp preview: Defensive tackle - PhillyVoice
Considering the new six-year, $103 million contract extension he signed last offseason, Cox is expected to play at an elite level, not "just" a great one. Cox also missed a portion of OTAs, for which he was rightfully criticized (though some of it was a little over-the top). I can say with some level of confidence that Cox's three-day absence from OTAs probably won't cost the Eagles any games this season. However, you'd prefer that one of your self-described "leaders" of the team just show up for everything. The defense will go as Cox goes. If he can be the elite play-making force the Eagles paid him to be, the effect of his play will trickle down to the edge rushers outside, as well the linebackers and defensive backs behind him.

More Wentz Analysis - Iggles Blitz
A lot of his best plays came on play-action passes or deep drops. Wentz had space to set up and then had time to survey the defense. That is somewhat standard for a rookie. Good QBs need to make faster reads and get the ball out quicker. You want plays to be made with rhythm and timing. Hit a WR on the move and let him create a big play. You keep pressure off the O-line by getting the ball out on time. The Eagles did use short, quick throws a lot, but often they were quick screens or dump-offs. That’s different from getting the ball out in rhythm on 3- and 5-step drops.

With job on the line, Eagles' Grugier-Hill ready for another battle - Inquirer
“It’s obviously a big year for me,” Grugier-Hill said bluntly. “I just have to focus on myself. It’s day by day, and when it comes to training camp and the preseason, that’s really when I have to step it up.” The Eagles enter camp with eight linebackers after drafting Nebraska’s Nathan Gerry in the fifth round in April. NFL teams typically keep six or seven on their 53-man roster, depending on the needs of special teams.

Terrell Owens makes NFC East pick, gushes about 2004 Eagles - CSN Philly
The Eagles made key upgrades this offseason, but they haven't improved enough for Terrell Owens to call them the favorite to win the NFC East. "I think hands down that'll probably be Dallas," Owens told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Schefter's podcast. "I don't think Philadelphia has made enough moves. I don't think the nucleus and the core is there. I think they've had too much going on the last few years that they really haven't had the nucleus of guys and they're going to be able to jell together enough to come all together at one time to really compete for that NFC East. It's going to be probably the Giants or the Cowboys to come out of the NFC East."

The NFL's 25 most outsized contracts - ESPN
8. Fletcher Cox, DT, Eagles. Three-year compensation: $47.8 million (43.7 percent over baseline). The next member of the big six, Cox made his millions by developing as an interior pass-rusher. The Mississippi State product was underperforming as recently as 2014, racking up just seven quarterback hits despite playing 921 defensive snaps. Cox turned things around in 2015, leading the Eagles with 9.5 sacks and 20 knockdowns, and he followed that up with a solid 6.5-sack, 14-hit season during Jim Schwartz's first year in town. Schwartz relies heavily on getting pressure with his front four without blitzing, making his hay with interior disruptors such as Albert Haynesworth and Marcell Dareus in years past. It's not hyperbole to suggest the Eagles build their entire defense around Cox.

2018 Prospect Preview: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley could continue upward trend of RBs - PFF
Elusiveness is also a strength of Barkley’s game. In 2015, he lead the nation in elusive rating at 126.7 and while he regressed in this area in 2016 he still ranked No. 11 among FBS running backs (87.5). Barkley forced a missed tackle on 27.0 percent of his carries ranking No. 4 among draft-eligible running backs.

2016 Slot vs. Wide: RBs and TEs - Football Outsiders
On Monday, we looked at new data from the upcoming Football Outsiders Almanac 2017 (available next week) on passes thrown to receivers lined up in the slot versus out wide. We started with wide receivers and quarterbacks, but will look at running backs and tight ends today. Again, this only counts plays on which a given player was targeted. This data comes from the charting done by our friends at Sports Info Solutions, and it is based on where the player was lined up at the snap. If the player was in "jet" motion, then that was charted as the spot they originated from, which was usually in the slot.

Mike Vick: Colin Kaepernick comments were not said in malice - PFT
After saying yesterday that Colin Kaepernick’s play, not his protest, is the reason he’s unemployed, Michael Vick had more to say today, although he didn’t quite clear up anything he said. Vick posted a short statement on Twitter, not exactly backing down from his previous comments but clarifying that his advice for Kaepernick to get a haircut isn’t relevant to Kaepernick’s current unemployment.

Colin Kaepernick, Michael Vick, and the fallacy of respectability politics - SB Nation
It’s naive to think Kaepernick would be closer to game day if he had a fade instead of a fro.

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