Eagles

Why you're wrong about Press Taylor

Why you're wrong about Press Taylor

Let’s talk about one of the top candidates for the Eagles’ offensive coordinator vacancy that will now remain a vacancy.

He’s just 32 and after quarterbacking his junior college to two national titles, he skyrocketed up the coaching ranks, from college graduate assistant in 2011 and 2012 to NFL quality control guy through 2015 to assistant QBs coach in 2016 and 2017 to NFL quarterbacks coach — all before his 30th birthday.

The quarterbacks he’s coached over the last two seasons have a composite 96.4 passer rating with 56 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions, and his teams reached the playoffs both years.

He’s coached in a Super Bowl and won a ring, with his team toppling one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. And he was credited for actually discovering the most historic play in that Super Bowl.

He's young, he's highly regarded around the league, he's worked under several brilliant offensive minds, and he comes from a big-time football family.

If this guy coached somewhere else, you’d be screaming for the Eagles to hire him.

But it’s Press Taylor, and he’s already here.  And that changes everything.

It’s the grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side dynamic.

If the tweets I read and the WIP callers I hear and the comments on stories I see are any indication, Eagles fans don't like Taylor and aren't in favor of his promotion to an increased role.

I’m not sure what’s in his resume or background to lead people to form a negative impression of him. But all indications are that he’s a capable coach who has a good feel for this offense.

Didn't Nick Foles look sharp when he had to play in 2018? Didn’t Josh McCown hang in there and play as well as you could expect in his first career playoff appearance? And most importantly, hasn't Carson Wentz looked prepared and capable the last couple seasons?

Maybe this is why a lot of fans look askance at Taylor. Because they're anti-Wentz and there's nothing he can do to change it without morphing into Foles.

The reality is that Wentz has been one of the NFL's better quarterbacks in his 27 games with Taylor as his position coach.

Let's measure this. Of those 27 games, Wentz has had four poor games, which we'll define as a passer rating under 80.

The only regular starting QB over the last two years with fewer games with a passer rating under 80 is Pat Mahomes (who's had two).

Dak Prescott had six. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers seven, DeShaun Watson nine, Jared Goff 10.  

All of which speaks to Wentz's consistency.

We can nit-pick a throw here or a decision there, but when healthy, Wentz has been one of the NFL’s most consistent quarterbacks in his two seasons with Taylor as his position coach.

His play down the stretch this past season with a cast of practice squad receivers was remarkable. Really, only Drew Brees and Lamar Jackson outplayed Wentz the last month and a half of the season. Wentz got better and better as the season went on, and there's no better way to measure a position coach than by whether his guys improve.

Other than the Wentz bias, what other reasons could there be for the negative association with Taylor?

I thought of a couple possibilities.

His brother Zac went 2-14 as head coach of the Bengals, and I’m sure part of this is guilt by association: "Zac is terrible so Press must be terrible, too."

And second, Doug Pederson’s track record with assistant coaches lately hasn’t been great, so maybe there's a tendency to think, "He promoted Mike Groh and Carson Walch, so why should I think this is any different?"

Doug has actually hired and fired Chris Wilson, Greg Lewis and Eugene Chung, Phillip Daniels and Gunther Brewer, in addition to Groh and Walch.

But this is interesting:

Of the original Chip Kelly 7 – the seven Kelly assistants that Pederson kept (Jeff Stoutland, Duce Staley, Cory Undlin, Matthew Harper, Justin Peelle, Dave Fipp and Taylor), Pederson hasn’t fired any of them.

Chip knew how to find good coaches, and he hired Taylor out of Tulsa, where he was a grad assistant. Taylor has gradually risen through the ranks since.

None of this is any guarantee Taylor will be a rousing success here and this offense will suddenly take off to new heights.

You never know with these things. Remember, nobody had heard of Andy Reid when he was hired. Doug Pederson wasn't a popular choice four years ago. Frank Reich had been fired three times in five years when Pederson brought him in.

They all did OK, last time we checked.

It's not about how big your name is, it's about your understanding of the game, your ability to communicate, your teaching skill.

Anyway you break it down, Taylor is a bright, young, rising offensive mind who's worked well Wentz, and that’s something Pederson and this offense can certainly use.

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Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

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NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

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