Eagles

Eagles Film Study: Jay Ajayi should be able to help

Eagles Film Study: Jay Ajayi should be able to help

The Eagles pulled off a pretty impressive trade Tuesday, getting Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins for a fourth-round pick. 

On the surface, that seems like a no-brainer. A 24-year-old coming off a Pro Bowl season? Sure!

There are, however, some red flags with Ajayi. There are some maturity concerns, along with a chronic knee issue. All those possible problems are outlined here

How about as just a player, though? 

Ajayi clearly wasn't having a repeat season down in Miami. He was off to a pretty rough start this year, averaging 3.37 yards per carry, which is actually lower than his average after contact from a year ago. That's jarring. 

But I turned on the tape Tuesday night and came away pretty impressed. Sure, there are some concerns with Ajayi, but it looks like the Eagles might have gotten a good player for a mid-round draft pick. 

To the tape: 

All of Ajayi's numbers are down this season, but one quick look at their games and it's pretty clear his offensive line in Miami just wasn't very good. Still, Ajayi would sometimes make things happen on his own. Just check out these three plays from the opener against the Chargers. 

His yards after contact numbers aren't great this season (2.88 average), but at times he's looked like the same guy who was second in the league in that category in his Pro Bowl 2016 season. 


On this play, Ajayi is able to generate plenty of steam running downhill out of the shotgun, which is important for the Eagles too. 

The outside linebacker comes clean and should have Ajayi down in the backfield for at least for a short gain. Doesn't happen. 

Ajayi drags Melvin Ingram ahead for six yards. 

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On this play, Jay Cutler was under center, which does help Ajayi get a head full of steam. Ajayi should be down after a short gain, but he's going to run right through a tackler. After this, he drags a couple others ahead for even more yards. 

He turns nothing into an eight-yard gain. 

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A little later in the game, Ajayi is able to take contact and simply spin out of it. This defensive back has no chance to take him down alone. Not only is Ajayi powerful, but he's also fleet of foot, which he shows here. 

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How about pass protection? 

As the trade deadline approached, there was a thought the Eagles would try to pick up a running back who was strong in pass protection. They've missed that since Darren Sproles went down. That's certainly not Ajayi's reputation. 

But in reading some things coming out of Miami on Tuesday, it seems like Ajayi was willing to block but sometimes wasn't in the right spot or didn't know his assignment. It seemed like there was just confusion at times. 

One thing stands out watching him, though: He certainly has the ability to block in the backfield. The Eagles' coaching staff — specifically Duce Staley and Jeff Stoutland — can work with his skills. It'll be up to Ajayi how good he becomes in this area. 

This first play came in Week 3 against the Jets. The linebacker is coming on an A-gap blitz and Ajayi recognizes it immediately. He nails his assignment here and stands him up.

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This next play came in the Week 7 meeting against the Jets. At the time of the snap, the Jets are bringing a safety blitz around the left side of the defensive line. Ajayi sees it and picks it up. 

His form is perfect on this. He uses a wide base, bends his knees and pops the defensive back to his backside, giving Matt Moore plenty of time to deliver the ball. 

•••

While pass protection is one area that has come into question, another has been Ajayi's penchant to go for the big play rather than the sure one. Dolphins coach Adam Gase — without using Ajayi's name — was critical of this aspect of his game. 

There's something to this. 

On this play in Week 7, Ajayi has a few short yards up the gut if he wants it. But he sees a lot of room outside and decides to try it. 

The problem is his offensive line doesn't hold up and gets pushed back into him. Had the line held, maybe he is able to bounce this outside. But it actually goes for a four-yard loss. 

•••

Ajayi isn't a perfect player. He has his flaws and that's not even taking into account the ones he has in the locker room and inside his knees. But the flaws he has on the field are correctable and his talent hasn't gone anywhere. 

Maybe this move won't work out for the Eagles, but there's a really good chance it does. If it doesn't, it won't be for lack of talent. 

Brandon Brooks restructuring deal for Nick Foles a 'no-brainer'

Brandon Brooks restructuring deal for Nick Foles a 'no-brainer'

A few days ago, the Eagles and Nick Foles agreed to rework his contract.

The restructured deal included a $2 million signing bonus and incentives based on whether Foles starts and reaches certain goals, plus a mutual option for 2019 (see story). Monday, it became clearer how the Eagles were able to get Foles more money up front when Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Brooks tweeted this:


Brooks restructured his current deal last Friday to help out his quarterback (see story)

NBC Sports Philadelphia had Brooks and RT Lane Johnson on Quick Slants Monday. Brooks had this to say about the restructure and his tweet:

Whenever it comes to a restructure, I just wanted to throw it out there — one, to clarify as far as exactly what happened and then two, probably the most important thing is look at what Nick did. I literally did whatever it took to get him extra money. I mean, everything he’s done for us as a team, for us as a city. The Super Bowl MVP. You know, going out there, launching that thing every week. The leader he is. The high character guy he is. And when they approached me about it, it was kind of like, 'Nah,' but then after understanding it was for Nick Foles, then I said, 'Without question, let’s go ahead and get it done.' He deserves it, he brought the first championship to the city, so it was a no-brainer, without question for me.

Brooks' close friend and linemate Johnson added:

The man was thrown into the fire and came out on top. I mean, he was really thrown into a tough situation and only had two weeks the last part of the season to kind of get in a rhythm, and you know how those games went. The guy went out there and delivered. I’m just so proud of him. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. We’re all happy for him.

As it gets closer to the 2018 NFL draft, the rumors continue to swirl that Foles could be traded. If it happens, a number of his teammates have told me Foles deserves his own team.

Will Foles be in Eagles green come September? Only time will tell, but whether he’s here or elsewhere, Foles will always have the respect and admiration from a group of guys who completed a magical season.

Eagles in contact with the White House about possible visit

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AP Images

Eagles in contact with the White House about possible visit

After winning Super Bowl LI, the Patriots visited the White House on April 19, 2017. 

You might have noticed that April 19 has come and gone this year and there hasn’t been much talk of the Super Bowl champion Eagles visiting the relatively new home of President Donald Trump. 

But on Monday, the New York Times reported that discussions about a possible Eagles trip to the White House have begun.

The Eagles confirmed that report with the following in a statement: “We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington. We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country."

This is the first time the Eagles have publicly spoken about a trip to the White House and the first time they’ve revealed they have been invited. When asked about the possible trip last month at the annual league meetings, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie didn’t seem very eager to speak about the topic. 

“We just won the Super Bowl,” Lurie said in Orlando last month. “I haven’t had any of those discussions. I have no idea. It’s just … I haven’t had those discussions.” 

The idea that the visit to the White House could be an opportunity for dialogue is an interesting one. Normally, these things are pretty much photo opportunities, but perhaps that’s part of the discussion. 

As you might guess, an Eagles trip to the White House is a pretty tricky trip to figure out. 

The Eagles have several players — Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, Torrey Smith — who have already said publicly that they wouldn’t attend. And last year when the Patriots won, Long and LeGarrette Blount were not among the group that went. Aside from that, Lurie, who donated money to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is considered one of the more liberal owners in the league. 

“We have been in conversations with the Eagles about timing and are working with them to make it happen,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, via the New York Times. “We hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks.”

According to the New York Times story, Lurie had strong criticism for Trump at a private league meeting last October as owners, players and executives met weeks after Trump scolded the NFL and players, which brought more league-wide protesting during the national anthem. During those meetings, Lurie described Trump’s presidency as “disastrous” and reportedly used a vulgarity to emphasize that opinion. 

This is not the first time an Eagle has had harsh words for Trump. Last September, Jenkins said Trump was “no different than a troll on social media.” 

The Eagles are the first Super Bowl-winning team after Trump’s attacks on the league and its players who had chosen to demonstrate during the national anthem. Last September, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

The week after Trump made those comments, protests became more wide-spread throughout the league, with entire teams demonstrating and showing unity. The Eagles — players, coaches and executives, including Lurie — locked arms as the Star-Spangled Banner was performed.