Eagles

Meet Cody Kessler, the quarterback that Nick Foles brought to the Eagles

Meet Cody Kessler, the quarterback that Nick Foles brought to the Eagles

Why did Cody Kessler sign with the Eagles?

He doesn’t hesitate.

“Nick Foles.”

Foles is the gift that keeps giving. 

It was Foles who urged Kessler to consider signing with the Eagles after he was released by Jacksonville, where Kessler and Foles were briefly teammates.

He spoke so highly of this place, he really did,” Kessler said after practice Wednesday. “It really did have a special place in his heart and you could hear that when he talked to me.

Foles signed with the Jaguars on March 11, and the Jags released Kessler on May 5, so even though they were technically teammates, they never practiced together and barely knew each other.

Yet one of the first people to call Kessler after he was released was Foles, who had just taken his roster spot.

He was actually the first person to talk to me other than my family and my agent," Kessler said. "When Jacksonville let me go, he called me that day and we had a really good talk, really about a 45-minute talk just about his journey and what he went through and we started getting to know each other after that. The way he talked about this place was something that really intrigued me, and he wasn’t lying. The locker room is special, the city is special, this team is special. It’s been great.

Foles and Kessler have a lot in common. Both were third-round picks — Foles was the 88th pick in 2012, Kessler the 93rd pick in 2016.

And both bounced around early in their careers and experienced some pretty low points. Foles went from the Eagles to the Rams to the Chiefs and back to the Eagles before he became a legend. 

Kessler is now on his third team in four years and trying to find a home like Foles did.

Kessler said he and Foles met a couple times before their paths briefly converged, but he said they really didn’t know each other at all before Foles picked up his phone and called him this past May.

That's the Nick Foles we all know.

He called a virtual stranger just because he thought he could provide him with some guidance.

He’s just awesome,” Kessler said. “He’s definitely someone that I look up to, someone that obviously went through tough times in his career, ups and downs, something I’ve kind of dealt with, whether it was in Cleveland or Jacksonville last year, kind of a rough time, so it was nice to have that, someone who’s kind of been through the journey, the highs and the lows of this league, someone to kind of lean on and talk to. And I still talk to him. Just one of the most positive, genuine guys I’ve ever been around. Someone you definitely want in your corner.

Foles certainly had more succcess early in his career than Kessler has had.

Kessler went 0-8 in eight starts for the Browns in 2016, although he did have six TDs, just two INTs and a 92.3 passer rating, fourth highest by a Browns QB in the last 50 years.

He sat behind DeShone Kizer in 2017, then was traded to the Jaguars last spring. He went 2-2 for the Jags last year before getting released and signing with the Eagles.

One of his strengths is his anticipation, and he throws a really friendly ball, a ball that’s accurate, and gives his receivers a chance to make a play,” said Nelson Agholor, Kessler’s roommate at USC. “I was happy when we signed him because if I can help him in any way giving himself value then that’s what I want to do. I like him as a person and I like him as a player and with the right opportunity he can have a lot of success in this league.

Can it be here?

After a rocky minicamp, Kessler has looked fairly sharp the first week of training camp and that combined with Nate Sudfeld looking not quite so sharp makes you wonder if he has a shot at the No. 2 job.

It would be an upset, but it’s not all that far-fetched. Sudfeld has been here longer, but Kessler is more experienced and has started and won NFL games.

Something you can’t control, other than you can control how you perform on the field, but I don’t worry about it,” Kessler said. “Me and Clayton (Thorson) are both in the same spot right now, learning the offense, and Carson and Nate have been great talking us through it, telling us what they see and what they’re looking for. My biggest thing is learn the offense, keep making plays, perform in the preseason games, and I don’t think about anything else.

Maybe Kessler will be quickly forgotten around here. Maybe this training camp won’t amount to anything for the 26-year-old. 

One thing is certain: He sure picked the right guy to help guide him along his path.

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Brandon Brooks confident Jason Peters will be able to play RG

Brandon Brooks confident Jason Peters will be able to play RG

As Brandon Brooks recovers from a torn Achilles, he’s willing to give his replacement Jason Peters any help he can. 

He just doesn’t think Peters will need it. 

I always say with him, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, gold jacket man, every time I see him,” Brooks said on an Instagram Live with ProFootballFocus on Tuesday. “I give him a hard time all the time. I don’t even call him Jason Peters; I just call him Mr. Gold Jacket, as far as I’m concerned. 

“The thing with JP is, what hasn’t he done? What can’t he do? Made the transition from tight end to right tackle, Pro Bowl. From there he went to left tackle. As he told me, looking at his Pro Bowls and All-Pros is like counting to 10. If there’s anybody who can do it, it’s JP. 

“Definitely, anything he needs. Me to sit down and watch film with him, to talk about how I do things. I’ve already talked to him about that. Somebody of his caliber, I just sit back and let him do his thing. I’m sure he’s going to figure it out. He did it at both tackles. Not just for him, but even the young guys. Anything I can do to help the guys out, I’ll do.

Brooks tore his Achilles in June and is out for the 2020 season. But he also said he’s doing well in recovery and will get his boot off next Thursday and will then be able to ramp up his rehab. 

Instead of going with one of their younger options at right guard, the Eagles brought back 38-year-old Peters to switch positions and flip sides. After nearly a decade at left tackle, Peters will play right guard while Andre Dillard takes over his old spot. 

When asked if the transition from tackle to guard will be tougher in the run or pass game, Brooks said it was probably about even. But then he brought up how tough it can be to flip sides of the line, especially after years on the left. Because it’s really hard. 

But … 

“Like I said before, if anybody can do it, it’s him,” Brooks said. “When it comes to helping him out, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that transition as smooth as possible.”

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Carson Wentz excited about changes coming to Eagles offense in 2020

Carson Wentz excited about changes coming to Eagles offense in 2020

Carson Wentz seems genuinely excited about the changes coming to the Eagles offense in 2020. 

That’s a great sign. 

Because these changes were made with him in mind. 

This offseason, Doug Pederson tried to downplay the schematic changes coming to the Eagles’ offense by saying they probably wouldn’t be visible to the “naked eye.” But we’ll be able to see them. Because if the Eagles didn’t want change they wouldn’t have fired Mike Groh. They wouldn’t have promoted Press Taylor. And they damn sure wouldn’t have hired Rich Scangarello, Andrew Breiner and Marty Mornhinweg. 

The biggest addition this offseason is Scangarello, a Kyle Shanahan disciple, whose job will be to marry the run, play action game, bootlegs and naked bootlegs. 

I think some things will look a little different,” Wentz said on a Zoom call with reporters last week. “I’m really excited about it and I think it will really complement what we as an offense, who we are identity-wise. I think coaches really have a good grasp of who we are and how we can get the most out of me and out of the rest of the supporting cast.

Bringing in Scangarello was largely about Wentz. 

The Eagles looked at Wentz’s game and realized he’s at his best when he’s able to move in and out of the pocket and throw on the run. Even Pederson admitted that when they looked back they noticed that Wentz “excelled” at the play action, QB movement and in the screen game.  

The concepts Scangarello brings should match that really well. It’s probably the biggest reason he’s here … to maximize Wentz. 

The subtle changes Pederson has talked about this offseason — protections, play action, screens, run game — will all be on display when the Eagles finally start practices later this month. It’s a good sign that Wentz seems excited about it. 

Aside from Wentz’s excitement about the new concepts, it was also a good sign to hear him affectionately refer to Scangarello as “Coach Rich.” The relationship between these two men will be extremely important and they haven’t had a traditional offseason to get to know one another. Until recently, their relationship was an entirely virtual one. Remember, Wentz is entering his fifth year in the NFL and now here comes a new coach telling him what to do and how to change after an offseason where they couldn’t even meet in person. 

As long as Wentz realizes the changes Scangarello wants to implement are there to help him, that relationship should be able to blossom. 

In the last few months, the phrases we’ve heard used about Scangarello’s role is that he’s going to bridge the gap between the run and pass or marry the run game with the play action. 

Duce Staley summed up what that means: 

When you talk about marrying, meaning your taking the concepts, you’re making the play action look like the run and that has a lot to do with the quarterback marrying himself with the running back, from steps, eyes, protection and so on,” Staley said. “Rich definitely has been awesome. He’s been totally awesome, being able to stack some things for us, think different, make the room think different. It’s been good.

You can understand why the offensive coaches might want to downplay any changes coming to their scheme. They built this offense; heck, this is the offense that won a Super Bowl. But evolution in the NFL is natural and they needed to get better. This a way to get better by maximizing your franchise quarterback’s strengths. 

No one has worked closer with Wentz in his first four years in the NFL than Taylor, who has gone from assistant QBs coach to QBs coach to passing game coordinator/QBs coach this season. 

While Taylor echoed Pederson’s sentiment about the subtlety behind the offensive changes, he said Scangarello has been a great addition to the staff so far. 

“I feel like it can add to what we already do around here,” Taylor said. “Rich may have some different details for some of the things they’ve done or some different ideas of how to attack a certain defense, how to get guys in certain situations. That’s really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to add different experiences we feel like can take our 2020 Eagles offense to the next level.”

If Wentz buys in, they can do that. 

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