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Eagles News: Doug Pederson put a target on his back

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 7/21/17.

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Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

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Doug Pederson's Packers comparison puts a bullseye on his back - CSN Philly
Pederson spoke for about 40 minutes that day and when he was finished and about to leave the room, I double-checked with him to make sure he meant what I had heard … that this year's Eagles team is as talented as the Packers teams that had a Hall of Fame quarterback in Favre, a Hall of Fame defensive end in Reggie White and stars like receiver Antonio Freeman, four-time all-pro safety LeRoy Butler, running back Dorsey Levens, safety Eugene Robinson, pass rusher Sean Jones and so on. He couldn’t have been clearer. "Yeah, I think we're there," Pederson said. "It's just bringing it all together, though, that's the thing. Bringing it all together." The Eagles certainly did upgrade their talent level this offseason. At least on paper.

Here’s what modern Eagles Kelly Green uniforms could look like - BGN
Do you like these? Vote in our poll!

Eagles training camp preview: Linebacker - PhillyVoice
As for the other "starting" linebacker spot (it really ins't), Mychal Kendricks is still, just, uh, there. The Eagles tried to trade Kendricks this offseason, even reportedly coming close to a deal with the San Francisco 49ers back in February. While Kendricks has been bad at times, he has flashed his athletic ability at other times. Unfortunately for Kendricks, Jim Schwartz has been unable to find creative ways to use him to the best of his abilities. For example, in the view of many talent evaluators, Kendricks' best trait as a linebacker is his blitzing ability. In 2016, Kendricks rushed the passer a grand total of just nine times, according to ProFootballFocus. That's simply a misuse of a player.

The Other QB - Iggles Blitz
There is no question about him as a pass defender. Hicks can cover well and make plays. He already has 7 INTs and 14 passes defensed. Jeremiah Trotter picked off 9 passes in his career. Patrick Willis only had 8. That should give you an idea just how freaky Hicks has been as a pass defender. This is a terrific video piece on Hicks with him mic’d up vs the Skins.

Carson Wentz surrounded by offensive talent as Philadelphia Eagles open camp - ESPN
Top storyline: Quarterback Carson Wentz enters training camp with the wind at his back. The deck was stacked against Wentz his rookie year, in some respects. He was handed the gig eight days before the start of the season, following the Sam Bradford trade, and he manned an offense that lacked sufficient firepower at the skill positions. Wentz is now ingrained in the role of QB and leader, and thanks to the work of the Eagles’ front office, he is surrounded by new talent, including wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount. The environment is right for Wentz to take significant strides in his sophomore campaign.

Secondary looms as Eagles' primary concern - Daily News
For most of the season, McLeod was one of the Eagles’ best defensive players — steady, smart, physical. But when the pass rush slowed and the corners crumbled, McLeod, too, sagged. That’s what happens when one part of a defense struggles; eventually, the entire group struggles. Which is a roundabout way of saying that as training camp gets underway Monday for rookies, quarterbacks, and select veterans, the Eagles’ apparent inability to improve their secondary during the offseason stands out as the team’s most glaring weakness, potentially the biggest factor standing between them and the playoffs.

Camp Question: How Does Offense Evolve? - PE.com
As impressive as Wentz was as a rookie, his whopping 607 passing attempts was too many. The Eagles needed Wentz to lead the offense without, quite honestly, a lot of help around him. Head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich did all they could with the personnel groupings and the formations – using the tight ends, for example, in heavy rotation and at every position in the offense – but without the proven playmakers, the Eagles relied on Wentz dropping back and chucking the football.

5 Eagles positioned for breakout seasons in 2017 - Morning Call
He paid his dues as an undrafted rookie last year. Now it’s time for him to collect. Mills was thrust into excessive action as a rookie in 2016 due to injuries to veterans and the unexpected trade of Eric Rowe to New England right before the season began. He endured considerable growing pains but kept his poise about him through it all and almost always seemed to make adjustments within games that indicate he has a total grasp of the Eagles’ defense. This year, he will be counted on for more consistent production as well as leadership.

Chicago CB Fuller no lock to make the final roster - PFF
After a poor rookie season in which Fuller earned a 33.8 overall grade, he played well during his second season. His overall grade of 77.3 ranked 39th out of 98 qualifying cornerbacks in 2015. During that 2015 season Fuller only gave up 0.74 yards per cover snap, which ranked fourth among 114 cornerbacks who played at least 175 coverage snaps. He also ranked fourth in cover snaps per reception allowed at 14.7.

3 Undervalued Fantasy Quarterbacks for 2017 - Gridiron Experts
The Eagles also upgraded their backfield with the signing of LeGarrette Blount. He almost certainly won’t find the end zone a ridiculous 18 times like 2016, but he gives Philly a proven bruiser in the run game. He should pair well with Darren Sproles who will handle most of the passing game work. All indications are RB Ryan Mathews will be cut as soon as he’s cleared medically to play. The combo of Jeffery, Matthews, Ertz, and Smith alongside Blount and Sproles form what could be quietly a pretty good offense. Wentz needed more weapons and the Eagles management went out and got good players. If things go right, I think Wentz will finish in the top 15 and could even creep into the top 12 if everything clicks right away.

NFL Nostalgia: Ranking the Best Playmakers in NFL History - B/R
Randall Cunningham rushed for 4,928 yards without the aid of read-options, well-designed quarterback keepers or, for much of his prime, any real offensive support whatsoever. In Cunningham's "Ultimate Weapon" days with the Eagles, like his 30-passing-touchdown, 942-rushing-yard effort in 1990, his running backs were 1970s-style plodders Anthony Toney and Keith Byars. His receivers were pretty good, but the Eagles offensive lines of the era were built out of steroid violators, converted defensive linemen and other assorted castoffs and Buddy Ryan experiments.

2016 Slot vs. Wide: Defense - Football Outsiders
These numbers seem to suggest the Eagles’ secondary was better than realized last year.

Michael Vick “truly sorry for what I said” about Colin Kaepernick - PFT
After saying this week that Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment is his own fault, Michael Vick has reconsidered. Vick said on the Dan Patrick Show that that he’s sorry he said Kaepernick’s play and not his national anthem protest is the reason he’s been unable to find an NFL team this offseason.

Ron Rivera on Carolina’s Wild Week - The MMQB
Ezekiel Elliott’s issues follow him. In the August 25, 2016 edition of the Game Plan, we had an NFC area scout saying this about Ezekiel Elliott: “As a player, I loved him to death. He’s the highest graded back I’ve ever done. He does everything well—running, catching, pass pro. But as far as going to Dallas, the bright lights, big city, I’ve always thought that could be tough for him. … He likes football. He also likes everything that goes along with being a star.” So right there is the problem that Dallas has. It’s not that he was allegedly involved in a bar fight on Sunday night. Those sorts of things happen with guys in their 20s, and we don’t even know yet his level of responsibility in the altercation. It’s that there was a pattern of behavior from Elliott coming out of Ohio State that’s continued right into his NFL career

2017 NFL training camp: When every team starts and which players to watch - SB Nation
Rookie to watch: Donnel Pumphrey, a diminutive running back who gets to follow in Darren Sproles’ footsteps. Veteran to watch: Alshon Jeffery, the team’s big free agent acquisition who needs to develop chemistry with Carson Wentz.

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