NFL

Former GM would demand king's ransom for Nick Foles

Former GM would demand king's ransom for Nick Foles

The Super Bowl champion Eagles face a multitude of tough decisions this offseason. 

The toughest is what to do with Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. With franchise QB Carson Wentz recovering from a serious knee injury, the situation becomes more complicated.

Longtime NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian essentially thinks Foles is untouchable.

Two first-round and two second-round picks would be a doozy of an offer for a quarterback who has one year left under contract. But that speaks to how highly Polian values Foles and the idea of having a top-notch backup QB on a contending team.

Former Eagles LB turned TV host Dhani Jones is in the same boat as Polian, saying he believes that Foles should be the starter, even if Wentz is healthy by Week 1.

Check out Jones' opinion in the video above.

Kapler wants Phillies to be bold — like the Super Bowl champs

Kapler wants Phillies to be bold — like the Super Bowl champs

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The manager’s opening speech is one of the grand traditions of spring training. Rules are covered (work hard, be on time, usually covers it), goals are established (Hey, everyone is tied for first place, to hell with the skeptics, let’s go out and win the World Series!) and an overall tone is set for camp and beyond.

Giving that speech for the first time is exciting and even a little nerve-racking. Gabe Kapler began thinking about what he would say to his team months ago. And now, with Phillies pitchers and catchers opening camp on Wednesday and the full squad set to report over the weekend and hit the fields on Monday, Kapler’s time to address the entire group for the first time is almost here.

“I know what that message is with a tremendous amount of clarity,” the new skipper, looking tan, muscular and ready to kick some ass, said Tuesday. “It’s critically important. It’s everything.”

Kapler was asked for a taste of what he will tell his troops.

“I can give you a little bit,” he said. “One of the questions I’ve been asking a lot of our players is what does it mean to play boldly? What does it mean to deliver a pitch boldly? What does it mean to take a swing in the batter’s box boldly? What does it mean to communicate boldly?”

Kapler went on to talk about conviction, courage and fearlessness, attributes he wants to see in his club. He wants to build an environment where there is no fear so his players can be comfortable and bold.

And if they are bold, they can shock some people.

Just like another team in town did recently.

“We would be foolish to not take cues from what the Eagles accomplished,” Kapler said of the Super Bowl champs. “Not just over the last couple weeks, but over the summer when coach (Doug) Pederson addressed his team and said, ‘This is what the world thinks and this is what we think you are. We get some development from our young quarterback, and we get some development on defense, we’re going to be much better than people think.’ 

"I think if everybody on our roster takes a small step forward, we have an opportunity to shock people. That’s the message we’re going to convey in camp. Ultimately, the message is we can win. It’s not like a delusional statement. It’s more like we all take that small step forward, we all get a little bit better, we all develop just enough where we surprise people.

“I think it means being very competitive when September rolls around. So being in the mix, being in the hunt, fighting for the National League East. I don’t think there has to be any major declaration made here. We’re fighting for the National League East in September.”

On paper, the Phillies don’t have the starting pitching to dethrone the Washington Nationals.

But Kapler is nothing if not positive. He runs on positive, can-do energy the way some people run on Wawa coffee.

“Yes,” he said when asked if the Phillies have the personnel to win.

He raved about what he has seen in early workouts from pitchers Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta, two big arms who know how to show it off in the bullpen.

Of course, the Phillies are still looking for more starting pitchers and may end up bringing in an arm in the coming days or weeks (see story).

Kapler has been in Clearwater bonding with early-arriving players, stressing boldness, for two weeks. He watched the Super Bowl at “a tiny wine bar in Tampa.” The fitness buff did not drink, but he had two bacon burgers, and you can bet he passed on the bun.

“It was one of my favorite three-hour stretches that I can remember in a really long time,” Kapler said. “It was quiet. I just locked into the game. It was really remarkable. And, obviously, we talked about the cues that we can take from the Eagles. We talked in this conversation about being bold. Well, those guys were nothing if not bold. The play-calling. The relentlessness on the field. Across the board, they played with boldness. So that was an inspiring day.”

Now, the ball has been handed off to the Phillies.

And Gabe Kapler has a message for the lads:

Be bold.

Looking at film of the Philly Special and its origins

Looking at film of the Philly Special and its origins

By now you've heard just about everything there is to hear about the "Philly Special," the one play that you'll probably never forget from the Eagles' 41-33 win in Super Bowl LII. 

You've heard how the Eagles came across it while watching Bears-Vikings film from the previous year. You've heard that the Bears actually called it "Clemson Special" from when the Tigers used to run it with Tajh Boyd. 

You've seen the video where Nick Foles comes to the sideline and suggests the play by saying "Philly Philly" and Doug Pederson still knew what he meant. Pederson, after a brief pause, responded, "Yeah, let's do it!" 

Yeah, let's just call the gutsiest call in Super Bowl history. Let's call a trick play on fourth down in the Super Bowl against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Let's do it. 

Of course, it worked. The Eagles sold it beautifully. Everyone did their jobs on the play and the Eagles walked away with a touchdown and a 22-12 lead heading into halftime. 

Let's take a look: 

OK, so it's 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 38 seconds left in the second quarter of Super Bowl LII and the Eagles are really going to do this. This is just after Foles motions Corey Clement behind him. Clement is going to need to be there when the snap eventually comes his way. 

Trey Burton is lined up behind Torrey Smith. He's going to come across the back of the formation to get the pitch from Clement and then throw the ball to Foles in the end zone. The former quarterback is going to throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl. 

At the top of the screen, it's going to be Alshon Jeffery's job to just clear out some space. He's a complete decoy on the play. 

Then there's Smith, who is going to sneak across the line of scrimmage and get wide open in the end zone. He's Burton's second read on the play, but the Eagles never need to go to him. 

The Eagles won the Lombardi Trophy, but Clement deserves an Academy Award too. It's very subtle, but as Foles begins to walk up to the line to say something to Lane Johnson at right tackle, Clement tosses his hand out as if to say, "Nick, what are you doing?" 

Here's the point of the snap. Clement is now going to start running toward the bottom of the screen, while Burton comes up toward the top. Jeffery is going to drag his defender out of the play, Smith is going to sneak behind the coverage, and Foles is going to be wide open in the end zone. 

Foles (circled) does a great job of selling it. He doesn't do anything for a second. 


Once Burton gets the ball in his hands, it's over. The Patriots have completely forgotten about Foles, while Jeffery is simply taking his cornerback away from the play. By the time Burton throws this ball, Foles might actually be too wide open. He had some time to think about it, but he snags the catch. Meanwhile, Burton's second read, Smith, was open in the end zone too. 

Yeah, it was a beauty. And the Bears ran it to perfection a little over a year earlier in the same exact end zone of U.S. Bank Stadium. Really. 

That's, of course, how the Eagles saw the play. They were studying for their NFC Championship Game against the Vikings and saw the Bears' play. Wide receivers coach Mike Groh, who was with the Bears last year, helped the Eagles install the play for themselves. 

They liked it so much they actually thought about using it against the Vikings and had to question if they would get fooled by it twice in two seasons. But then that game ended up being a blowout, so the Philly Special was put back into Pederson's sleeve. 

Here's what the Eagles saw on tape when they watched the Bears run it: 

OK, so the stakes aren't as high for the Bears here. They're down 17-0 in the last game of the 2016 season and they're going to finish with just three wins. But a good play is a good play. There's 1:52 left in the second quarter and it's 3rd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. 

Our old friend Matt Barkley brings Jeremy Langford in motion all the way from the top sideline. Langford lines up behind Barkley and gets ready for the snap. 

Same thing. What is the quarterback doing? Oh, he's talking to the right tackle. Oh, here comes the football. 

In the Bears' play, the role of Clement is played by Langford. Burton is Cameron Meredith, who is about to come across the formation and get the pitch. Deonte Thompson is Smith; he's going to sneak across the line and be the second read. Daniel Brown is Ertz, blocking to give just a little extra time. 

And at the top of the screen, Alshon Jeffery is ... Alshon Jeffery. Yup, for both plays, Jeffery is just a decoy. His job is to take his cornerback completely out of the play. He runs a different route, but the job is the same. 

 

Too easy. The linebacker looks like he's on to something here, but he's not. Barkley is wide open for a touchdown. 

Here's the full look: 

And if you're wondering where the Bears got the play, well, they used to call it the Clemson Special. Not hard to figure out why. 

It's kind of crazy this play that has been passed through the ranks has become one of the biggest plays in Philadelphia sports history, but it did. This is a copycat sport and if the Eagles see something they like, they're going to see if it works for them. 

They really pulled it off.