Vick to remain the starter in Philly, for now

Michael Vick

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

If Eagles coach Andy Reid has decided to switch from Mike Vick to Nick Foles at quarterback, Reid hasn’t told anyone else yet.

As pointed out earlier today by Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles released an updated depth chart on Tuesday.  It showed that Vick is still the starter.

Also, Jeff McLane of the Inquirer reported that neither Vick nor Foles have been informed of a change at the position.

Still, Hurricane Sandy has sheltered Reid from meeting with the media.  When he does, it’s likely that a clear, truthful answer will be provided.  Owner Jeffrey Lurie made it clear after the 2011 season that he expects Reid to be candid and forthcoming, explaining that a habit of saying things that may not have been the truth were aimed at protecting players.  Regardless of whether there was a benevolence to the B.S., Reid likely won’t be saying one thing and doing another.

The question becomes how candid he will be.  Will he admit that he considered a change?  Will he say that a change is still possible?  Will he address whether Vick could be benched at halftime, like Donovan McNabb was during a game against the Ravens in November 2008?

Giving Foles a crack at playing away from Lincoln Financial Field makes sense.  Then again, as Peter King pointed out during a visit to The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, using Foles under circumstances in the Superdome that likely would require use of a silent count may not be ideal. Read more…

Eagles expected to bench Vick

Michael Vick

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

If Howard Eskin’s report of the impending Vick-for-Nick switch for the Philadelphia Eagles is accurate, it’s not something that just popped into coach Andy Reid’s head in recent days.

A source with knowledge of the dynamics in Philly over the past two seasons believes firmly that Reid has been considering benching Vick since the middle of last season, when the Eagles slumped to a 3-6 start. Reid was hoping, we’re told, that former backup Vince Young would play well enough during a three-game injury absence from Vick to justify doing to Vick what Reid did to Kevin Kolb in 2010.

Young didn’t.

Regardless of when or if Vick gets benched, it’s now becoming a foregone conclusion that Vick won’t be back in 2013, especially at a salary of $15.5 million.

And for those of you asking whether the Eagles would trade Vick, given the two-day extension to the trade deadline, here’s a great point raised by a source with direct knowledge of the situation: “Who would trade for him?”

That’s a great question. The Vikings arguably could use him, but they’re tied to 2011 first-rounder Christian Ponder. (Besides, we think Joe Webb is a much better Plan B. And a better Plan A.)  Read More…

Eagles’ Rodgers-Cromartie defends Castillo

Dominique Rodgers-CromartieThe dismissal of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has triggered a belated (. . . wait for it) schism in the Philly locker room as to the question of whether Castillo deserved the blame for blown leads and overall bad performances.

On Wednesday, defensive end Brandon Graham dumped on the now-dumped Castillo.  On Thursday, cornerback Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie came to Castillo’s defense.

“Of course that’s what you’re going to say when things tend to go bad, you’re going to pinpoint someone,” Rodgers-Cromartie said, via CSNPhilly.com.  “I don’t feel that way. You look at statistics, shoot, we’re still in the top of the running.  I can’t do nothing about it.  But I didn’t see no problems.”

Technically, this means he did see problems.  His point is that he didn’t.

“I feel like every man should be accountable for [himself],” Rodgers-Cromartie explained.  “I learned from early in life any time things go wrong it’s easy to say, ‘He did this, he did that’ instead of saying, ‘I did this, I did that.’  Whatever the case may be I ain’t got no say-so over none of that.”

Again, technically, he’s saying he actually had say-so.  His point is that he doesn’t.

Rodgers-Cromartie actually has praised for Castillo, the long-time offensive line coach who was fired in his second year running the team’s defense.  “He changed my game,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.  “He brought me to a press corner.  He’s one of them guys that will take the time with you to let you understand the weaknesses in your game and keep you after practice and make you work on it.” Read more…

Eagles owner Lurie says he was skeptical of the Castillo promotion

Eagles Owner Jeffery Lurie

Larry French/Getty Images

The man who created an environment of extreme stress in Philly has commented on the first tangible consequence of the unprecedented pressure he placed on his team.

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie tells Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News that the man who writes the checks had reservations last year about bumping up the man who’ll now get a buyout.

Yes I did,” Lurie said of the decision to make Juan Castillo defensive coordinator in 2011. “But I let Andy make that call. I respected his decision. He felt it was the best thing to do at the time, and I don’t interfere in that area.”  Read more…

 

 

Second guessing: Lurie says he was skeptical

Owner Jeffrey Lurie tells Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News that he had reservations last year about Andy Reid’s decision of bumping up the man who’ll now get a buyout.
“Yes I did,” Lurie said of the decision to make Juan Castillo defensive coordinator in 2011.  “But I let Andy make that call.  I respected his decision.  He felt it was the best thing to do at the time, and I don’t interfere in that area.”
Lurie also said that the decision to dump Castillo also was Reid’s and Reid’s alone.
“The way I operate, a coach is responsible for his staff,” Lurie said.  “[He needs to] succeed or fail based on who he chooses and his own performance.  I don’t trigger that.”
But Lurie did everything but pull the trigger in August, making it clear with chilling nonchalance that Reid will be fired if the Eagles have another .500 season.  And while Lurie likely knows Reid well enough to know that he can bear the pressure of coaching for his job, Lurie likely underestimated the impact of his words on everyone else, from Castillo to Mike Vick (who has 15.5 million reasons for Reid to return) to anyone and everyone else with a vested interest in Reid staying put. Read more…

Philadelphia Eagles, more changes coming?

Andy ReidThe Eagles may not be changing quarterbacks during the bye week, but they are making changes.

According to Reuben Frank of CSNPhiladelphia, the Eagles have fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

Frank reports that Castillo was called into Andy Reid’s office this morning, and was given the news. He will no longer be with the team in any capacity.

Castillo, who has been with the Eagles since 1995, was an odd fit from the start, moving from coaching offensive line coach to defensive coordinator prior to the 2011 season. He replaced Sean McDermott, who struggled with replacing the late Jim Johnson, before being let go to join Ron Rivera in Carolina.

The Eagles have since announced the move, saying Todd Bowles will take over Castillo’s old job.

“We’re six games into the season and average isn’t good enough. I know the potential of our team and insist on maximizing it,” Reid said in a statement from the team. Read more…

Time catching up to Michael Vick?

Michael Vick

Early in his career, Michael Vick’s God-given skills allowed him to avoid contact by outrunning it.  Now that he has gotten older, he can’t simply turn on the jets and speed away from other players.

As a result, a major flaw in his game is becoming more and more evident:  He lacks the basic awareness to avoid contact.

Vick can’t and won’t slide, for example, not because he lacks the ability to do it, but because he lacks the ability to know when to do it.  As I’ve said once or twice (or more often) this week, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III displayed in his first NFL game the ability to know when to hit the deck after running a read-option play and getting into a position where he could have tried to blaze past defenders but opting to simply slide.  49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did the same thing out of the same formation on Sunday.

For Vick, it’s not a question of flipping a switch.  The switch simply isn’t there.  For all the great things he has, the one thing he doesn’t have is an innate sense of when and how to protect himself. Read more…

Vince Young: The story of a black QB in the NFL

Vince YoungVince Young, the man that was once called “In-Vince-able” after his legendary championship performance against USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl. That was six years ago and how the times have changed.

Vince Young these days has a hard time finding a job in the NFL. The 2006 rookie of the year, 2008 comeback player of the year, two-time pro bowl player, and player with elite potential.

It completely baffles me that Vince Young can’t find a job in the NFL, yet Tim Tebow has a job and ESPN has him ranked as the 30th QB in the league. It completely disgusts me that V.Y. can’t find a job. He is not that stat machine that an Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady is but he does the same thing that Tebow does, he wins!

His career record is 31-20. Which isn’t great, but still he is a winner. V.Y. showed he was good enough to be an NFL QB during his rookie year and saved Jeff Fisher’s job by leading the Titans to six straight wins with four of those being 4th quarter comebacks, and two of those comebacks the Titans were down 14+ points. They finished the season with an 8-8 record.

In 2007 he lead them to their first playoff appearance since 2003, they ended up losing to the San Diego Chargers in the wild card round.

In 2008 he was injured in the first game and while he was recovering the team went on to start 10-0 and ended up 13-3.

He sat on the bench and matured as player as he said in his own words.

The next year Kerry Collins continued as the starter, but the team started off 0-6 and was annihilated by the New England Patriots 59-0. After the bye week that year, it was time for V.Y. and boy did he ever deliver and saved Jeff Fisher’s job yet again. Starting off 0-6 and the team ended up 8-8 after V.Y. took over the starting spot.

In 2010 the Titans started off 5-5 and he was injured in a game and his injury required surgery. This ended up being the beginning of the end for VY in Tennessee. After the game it was noted that he threw his shoulder pads in the stands and had an altercation with Coach Jeff Fisher in the locker room. He was released after the season and ever since then his career has been a roller coaster ride that I’m sure he is tired of riding. Read more…

2012 NFL playoff predictions

NFC WILD CARD ROUND: 
(6) Chicago Bears vs. (3) San Francisco 49ers  
Patrick Willis (52) and the 49ers’ defense proves to be too much for Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and the rest of the Bears’ offense.

Both teams come into the 2012 playoffs having already clinched a playoff berth weeks ago. The 49ers proved to be a tougher team at home in 2011, and are just as tough a home team in 2012. The Bears’ offensive line troubles hurts them, as defensive end Justin Smith and linebackers Aldon Smith, Navorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis help limit Matt Forte’s production and pressure Jay Cutler enough to seal the victory. 49ers over Bears 

(5) Green Bay Packers vs. (4) Atlanta Falcons: 
Familiar playoff foes, the Packers enter the 2012 playoffs on a two-game winning streak, and the Falcons enter having clinched the NFC South division in the final week of the regular season. Last time these two teams met in the playoffs in Atlanta, the Packers defeated the Falcons, 48-21, en route to a victory in Super Bowl XLV. Don’t expect the same kind of game, but expect a similar result for Aaron Rodgers and company.
Packers over Falcons
 
NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND
(5) Green Bay Packers vs. (1) Detroit Lions 

In the last two seasons, the number-one seed hasn’t fared well in the divisional round, as the NFC’s top seed has been outscored 85-41 in the last two divisional round match ups. Although the Packers are only a couple of years removed from a Super Bowl win, the Lions utilize Megatron, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, to their full-advantage and edge the Packers in a close and high-scoring match up in the motor city. Lions over Packers

(3) San Francisco 49ers vs. (2) Philadelphia Eagles
The “dream team” finally makes an appearance in the postseason, and stand toe-to-toe with the NFC West champion 49ers in Philadelphia. With LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Vick, the Eagles have too much offensive fire power for the 49ers to handle, and defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole make life miserable for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, as the Eagles do not disappoint and reach the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 2008 season. Eagles over 49ers
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
(2) Philadelphia Eagles vs. (1) Detroit Lions

A potential exciting and explosive match up including some of the NFL’s greatest playmakers, the Eagles and Lions will execute big plays in exciting fashion. The NFC Championship will come down to which team has the stronger pass rush. The Lions possess a deep defensive line which includes Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Corey Williams, Cliff Avril, and Kyle Vanden Bosch, while the Eagles’ defensive line includes Babin, Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon, and Darryl Tapp. Which line do I have my money on? The Eagles, as the wide-9 gives Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offensive line a rough day. Eagles over Lions

Read the AFC predictions here…

Fantasy Football kickers: The best of the rest

Like we did with tight ends and team defense, we have put together a list of kickers to consider drafting after those in the top tiers are off the board. Those, of course, would include David Akers, Stephen Gostkowski, Sebastian Janikowski, Mason Crosby, and Garrett Hartley-the top five in most leagues. We left out Dan Bailey because he finished third in the league last season in his rookie year and should be considered a top-tier kicker.

And we even threw in some sleepers in this category-perhaps the next Akers or Crosby- because at one point in their careers that’s exactly what they were!

1. Matt Prater-Broncos- Field goal opportunities were at a premium for Prater last season as Denver ranked second in punts in the league. Can’t kick too many F.G. when your team has problems on offense and is forced to punt repeatedly. Once the Broncos brought Peyton Manning on board, they wisely franchised Prater realizing the tremendous talent that he possesses. With a much more potent offense at the ready this season, we think Prater will be a Sleeper candidate. Remember in ’09 he finished the season with 122 fantasy points, just 7 behind Crosby and 27 behind Janikowski, so we know he has the potential.

2. Matt Bryant-Falcons-A team with an explosive offense led by QB Matt Ryan and with weapons such as Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, Bryant will have ample chances to bring your team fantasy points this season. Among active players, he has led the league in field goal accuracy (91.7%) since 2010. Couple that with the fact that the Falcons will play 10 games indoors this season and there is an excellent case to wait for Bryant who will probably be the 8th-9th Kicker to go off the boards.

3. Alex Henery-Eagles- First and foremost, the Eagles CAN score points! Especially if Michael Vick can remain healthy for most of the season..Henery set an NCAA record last year with Nebraska in field goal accuracy (88.9%) which is why Philly made him their fourth round selection in last year’s draft. Look, he’s on a team where David Akers thrived for years, so there’s no reason to believe that Henery won’t either given his collegiate pedigree. Definitely Sleeper material! Read more…

Video: Andy Reid calls out his defense

In a heated exchange on the sideline, Eagles head coach Andy Reid let his defense, and in particular, Cullen Jenkins, know exactly how upset he was. The exchange took place after Reid witnessed New England Patriots’ reserves march down the field on a 13 play 80 yard touchdown drive led by Pats backup QB Ryan Mallet. What made this worse was that it was against the Eagle’s first-team defense!

Head coach Andy Reid got all up in Cullen Jenkins face after watching his defense falter vs the Pats on Monday night. Photo: ESPN.com

“It’s an emotional game. He was fired up, I was fired up,” Reid said after the game, via NFL.com. “Those things happen. Cullen is my primary leader on that defensive line. I count on him for a lot of things. He was upset and I was upset, and we talked about it afterwards.”

Watch the Video here…

Vick must change to avoid injury

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick avoided broken ribs on Monday, but reminded the Eagles of the constant injury risk that comes with his style of play.

According to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Vick knows that he needs to try something different in order to stay on the field. Jackson recounted his halftime conversation with Vick during an interview on ESPN in the second half of the game against the Patriots.

“He’s sore and bruised up a little bit,” Jackson said. “He’s just like, ‘Man, I can’t keep taking hits like that.’”

Doing so will take a fundamental change to the way he plays. Vick got hurt on Monday night because he tried to make a play when the more prudent thing to do would have been to throw the ball away. The throw was a heave downfield as well, a ball that could wind up being intercepted, and that only adds to the reasons why Vick would have been wise to make another choice. Read more…

5 Fantasy Football players that will outperform their ADP

Fantasy football is all about value. Last season anyone could have drafted Arian Foster in the first round, but not everyone would have taken Matthew Stafford in the 8th round or Jimmy Graham in the 10th and so on. This year you will have to spend a much pick higher to get any of those guys. The trick is to find these guys before and it’s easier said than done.

With that said, here are five fantasy football players that I think will outperform their ADP  for the 2012 fantasy football season.

Note: ADP Data from FantasyPros.com

1. Percy Harvin (ADP: 50.8)

Percy Harvin really started to click with Christian Ponder after the rookie took over in the second-half of last season. In his final seven games, all with Ponder at quarterback, Harvin had 581 yards and six touchdowns. He set career highs all across the board and he did all of that despite only playing in 57.9% of offensive snaps. Harvin has a realistic chance to finish in the Top 10. I like him even more in PPR leagues.

2. Jeremy Maclin (ADP: 57.5)

Maclin has generated a ton of offseason “buzz” from Eagles coachesplayers and beat writers yet he’s being drafted outside the Top 20 receivers. He played well last season – 63 catches for 859 yards and 5 TDs – and he missed four games to injury. He also had a cancer scare last offseason which caused him to miss most of training camp and lose 15 pounds. Now fully healthy and back to weight, I expect Maclin to establish himself as the go-to-receiver for Michael Vick and an elite fantasy receiver. Read more here…

NFC teams that may have turned the corner

The NFL is, by nature, a very unpredictable league. This makes the games that much more exciting, as a team can come from nowhere and have a very strong season. Turnarounds like the Dolphins had from 2007 to 2008, where they improved their record from 1-15 to 11-5, keep fans of every market interested no matter how bleak things may look. Just last year, the Giants started 6-6 before rallying over the next four games to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

This year, expectations are high for several teams. The Giants will obviously look to repeat, and mainstays such as the Saints, 49ers and Packers will try to make it back to the top of the pile. There are several teams, though, who might just surpass all of them. These are three NFC teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year – but have a legitimate shot to win it all this year.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles become a bit of a media punching bag last season after Vince Young remarked that they were a Dream Team in the making. To an extent, this was actually true. The individual pieces were all there: The team had made stellar acquisitions in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Comartie, and they were adding their new weapons to an arsenal that already included LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson. Michael Vick was also coming off of a very impressive 2010 campaign, although injuries ended up as an issue.

For the 2012 Eagles, the issue isn’t talent. They have plenty of individual pieces. The goal will be to make those pieces work well together and actually resemble a team. McCoy is a great running back and Asomugha is a great corner, but the chemistry was missing on offense and defense. The team has a head coach with plenty of experience in Andy Reid, although the recent passing away of his son may impact his ability to stay focused and lead his team. If the Eagles find their center, they could be a team that nobody wants to play against. Read more here…

Fantasy Football defense, special teams: What you should know

Just like with all position players, there are an élite amount of DST (defense and special teams) and the question that remains is who are the best of the rest? Our top six DST include the 49ers, Packers, Giants, Patriots, Ravens, and the Jets.   Once they’re off the board, we have put together a list of other DST and list why they should be considered for your team…

Philadelphia Eagles– Even though they play in one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL, we’re picking the DST of the Eagles as sleepers this season. They had a usually poor start last year but in the final weeks they came on strong and became more of the Eagles D of old. They made some great moves in the off-season to help fortify their defense-moves like the additions of rookie linemen Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry as well as linebacker DeMeco Ryans should put the Eagles back into defensive relevancy which has always been a major part of their game.

Houston Texans– With DeMeco Ryans going to Philadelphia and former 1st rounder Mario Williams shuffling off to Buffalo, any other team would be in for a long season, but this is a defense that’s got Wade Phillips at the helm and they’re coming off their best defensive season in their franchise’s history! This season, instead of being great they’ll be just ‘very good’ which is all you want for your team because you don’t need the best DST to win your league. Read more here…