Eagles

The wild innovation Eagles quarterbacks coach Press Taylor believes is next for the NFL

The wild innovation Eagles quarterbacks coach Press Taylor believes is next for the NFL

The NFL is constantly evolving, constantly changing, as teams look for new twists to gain an advantage.

What’s next?

Eagles quarterbacks coach Press Taylor had some fascinating thoughts about that.

I do think at some point one of the big things is having multiple people on the field who can throw the ball,” he said. “I think that’s something [you’ll see] going forward. You’ve seen kind of the Philly Special, all the different versions of double passes, things like that. I think at some point something like that I could see coming into play.

Now, to put this in context, Taylor — who was originally brought to the Eagles in 2013 by Chip Kelly — is the guy who brought the Philly Special to the Eagles after seeing the Bears run it in 2016. (Read Dave Zangaro’s story about that here.)

So we know he has an innovative mind. Taylor, who was a quality control coach under Kelly and assistant quarterbacks coach in 2016 and 2017, is now beginning his second year as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.

“Not necessarily saying that we’re doing that or anything like that,” Taylor said, laughing. “But I just think pushing the envelope could be something [we see]. You’ve got these guys coming out of college that are dual-threat quarterbacks and transition to receiver, different things like that. Those guys get on the field and just to be able to get your best players on the field and threaten the defense in the most ways possible. It’ll be fun to see.”

Interesting to note that the Eagles have two pretty successful college quarterbacks in their receiving corps.

Braxton Miller was Ohio State’s starting quarterback for three years and finished fifth in the 2012 Heisman Trophy balloting and ninth in 2013 before missing 2014 with a shoulder injury and converting to receiver.

Greg Ward was a quarterback at Houston and capped his college career with a win over No. 9 Florida State in the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

The two of them combined for 13,999 passing yards, 104 touchdowns and 43 interceptions as college QBs.

Who knows whether either one will make the final roster, but if they do, the possibilities are intriguing.

You look at all your guys,” Doug Pederson said. “We found out that [Nelson Agholor] can throw and DeSean [Jackson] can throw a little bit and some of these guys, you can use them in unique situations. Again, this is springtime. This is where we get a chance to experiment and sort of dabble in some of these gadget plays and find out who can do that kind of stuff. It does help to have that QB background.

Here are five memorable instances of non-quarterbacks throwing the ball for the Eagles (and we skipped the Philly Special just because that’s still fresh in everybody’s mind):

Keith Byars' perfect season: In 1990, Eagles running back Keith Byars threw four passes and all four were touchdowns (two to Anthony Toney, one to Heath Sherman, one to Calvin Williams). Nobody else in NFL history has thrown more than two passes in a season in which all his attempts were TDs.  

B-Mitch to Dawk: In a 2002 game against the Texans, running back Brian Mitchell threw a 57-yard TD pass to Brian Dawkins, the only career reception of Dawk’s career. Of the 318 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dawks’ career yards-per-catch average of 57.0 is highest.

Roger Ruzek did what?: In 1989, Eagles kicker Roger Ruzek threw a 22-yard TD pass to future Hall of Famer Cris Carter in a win over the Cards at the Vet. It was the only pass of Ruzek’s career. Ruzek is the only Eagle in the last 50 years to throw a touchdown pass and make a field goal in the same game.

Big-play Freddie: Interesting note about Freddie Mitchell: He had as many 25-yard TD passes in his career as 25-yard TD catches. One of each. In 2003, FredEx threw a 25-yard TD to Brian Westbrook in a win over the Dolphins in Miami. He’s the only WR to throw a TD pass for the Eagles in the last 35 years.

Legend to a legend: In a 1983 game against the Colts, Harold Carmichael threw a 45-yard TD to Mike Quick. Carmichael, who had 79 career TDs, and Quick, who had 61, are one of only three sets of teammates in NFL history who both had 60 TD catches to connect on a TD pass. The others are Dez Bryant (73) to Jason Witten (68) for the Cowboys against the Lions in 2016 and Charley Taylor (79) and Bobby Mitchell (65) of the Redskins against the Giants in 1965.

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Emotional Nick Foles opens up on George Floyd death

Emotional Nick Foles opens up on George Floyd death

Saying he’s been “torn up” this week, Nick Foles tweeted out a message of inclusion Sunday afternoon, joining the growing number of pro athletes urging racial tolerance and understanding during an increasingly tense time in the U.S.

Foles, the Super Bowl MVP for the Eagles two years ago, tweeted out a lengthy message saying his “heart is with the black and brown communities and the family of George Floyd. (His wife) Tori and I are constantly praying for y’all.”

Floyd died on Monday following an encounter with Minneapolis police.

Here’s part of what the Bears’ quarterback tweeted:

My favorite part of playing football has not been winning a Super Bowl or running the Philly Special. It has been to Glorify God and to play with men from all different backgrounds and races. To use football as an example … the beautiful thing about playing football has been the diversity within the locker room. Men come together to achieve the common goal of winning games no matter what their background. To do that they must love one another, genuinely. It becomes a real brotherhood. I’ve been a part of some special teams. The special teams did not always have the best playbook but they did have the strongest brotherhood. Sports show us what is possible when we stop looking at the difference in skin color and look at the heart of an individual. Christ tells us to love our neighbor. No matter how they look or what their color of skin is we are to genuinely love one another. Football shows us that this is possible and it is truly a beautiful thing when it is from the heart. To all my brother and sisters in the black and brown communities, Tori and I dearly love y’all and we are here to walk alongside y’all and to listen.

Foles went on to quote two Bible verses preaching equality and added, “We are to not just read this verse but to live it out.”

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10 Eagles observations, including the greatness of Reggie White

10 Eagles observations, including the greatness of Reggie White

A wild Nick Foles stat that has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, the miracle of the A.J. Feeley trade, the greatness of Reggie White and the bizarre career of Hank Baskett!

That's only a small sliver of the wonders that await you in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations! 

1. I can't even imagine an Eagles game without fans. I can imagine empty venues for other sports. I’ve watched some of those Korean baseball games over the past couple weeks and barely even notice there are no fans. Hockey and hoops, the crowds are more active and louder. But football? NFL? Eagles? The synergy between what’s happening on the field and the fans is so different in football than any other sport, and the old cliche about players feeding off the fans’ energy is very real. You can feel it. You can sense it. When the Linc erupts after an Eagles touchdown or big play, there’s literally nothing like it. It's not just cheering, it's an ocean of joyous noise that envelops your soul. I’d rather have Eagles football with no fans than no football at all, but I just can’t visualize Carson Wentz throwing a game-winning touchdown pass to Zach Ertz and … complete silence. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, it’s really going to be weird.   

2. One of the most amazing things about Nick Foles’ Eagles career has nothing to do with the Super Bowl or even the 2017 season. In 2013, Foles threw 27 touchdown passes in just 317 attempts. That’s the fewest attempts by any QB throwing at least 27 TDs in the last 44 years.

3. When I was putting together the all-time Eagles Never-Made-a-Pro Bowl teams last week, I was reminded of what Ron Baker said the day he announced his retirement at JFK Stadium at the start of training camp in the summer of 1989. Baker, a solid right guard, had played 11 NFL seasons as a 10th-round pick, the last nine seasons with the Eagles. He and Roynell Young were the only guys who played in the 1980 Super Bowl and were still with the Eagles in 1988 for the Fog Bowl. But when a 34-year-old Baker showed up for camp in 1989 and saw the Eagles’ depth chart, he knew it was time: “When I looked at the depth chart, I saw that I was on the fourth team, and I’ve been around long enough to know there is no fourth team.” And with that, he hung up the cleats and never looked back. Class act, Ron Baker.  

4. From 1997 through 1999, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Jon Gruden, Doug Pederson, Bill Callahan, Ron Rivera and Andy Reid were all with the Eagles as a player or coach. All seven became Super Bowl head coaches and all but Rivera and Callahan won. Those three teams Eagles teams? They went 14-33-1. 

5. The last time the Cowboys won playoff games in consecutive seasons was 1995 and 1996. The last time they even reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons was 2006 and 2007. 

6. I think back to training camp in 2011 when every fan in attendance at Lehigh could hear new defensive line coach Jim Washburn constantly berating and insulting his players in a way that was so inappropriate and so offensive and so demeaning I’m surprised Andy Reid let it continue. This went way beyond a coach being a hard-ass or a strict disciplinarian. This was awful. Reid finally fired Washburn halfway through the 2012 season, but a lot of damage had been done. I wouldn’t want that guy coaching my worst enemy.

7. Reggie White had 33 games as an Eagle with two or more sacks. Only six other Eagles have had 33 games with at least one sack.

8. It still blows my mind that the Eagles were able to trade A.J. Feeley to the Dolphins for a 2nd-round pick — a very high 2nd-round pick — after the 2003 season. What had A.J. done to convince the Dolphins he was their QB of the future? In 2002 he went 4-1 in relief of an injured Donovan McNabb, although he had just five TDs and five INTs and a modest 72.6 passer rating in those games. Nonetheless, the Dolphins not only traded the Eagles a 2nd-round pick, they gave A.J. a $3 million signing bonus when they restructured his deal. Feeley went 3-5 with 11 TDs and 15 INTs in eight starts in Miami before the Dolphins gave up on him, benching and eventually releasing him. The Eagles drafted Reggie Brown with the pick they got from the Dolphins — the 35th pick overall in 2005 — and Feeley wound up rejoining the Eagles and even threw a TD to Brown in a game against the Patriots. The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since making that trade.

9. Before last year, only four players in Eagles history had netted 150 yards both rushing and receiving over the last four games of a season (Wilbert Montgomery twice, Keith Byars in 1988, Herschel Walker in 1993 and Brian Westbrook twice). Last year, both Miles Sanders AND Boston Scott did it, making the Eagles the first team in NFL history with that distinction. Doug Pederson’s ability to effectively use both backs as receivers and runners with the wide receiver cupboard bare was a crucial dimension of the Eagles’ 4-0 finish. It will be interesting to see how Doug deploys his backs this year with presumably an upgraded wide receiving corps because they sure look like a lethal combination. Scott needs a role in this offense. 

10. Gotta finish with a great Hank Baskett stat! The fact that Baskett is one of only five players in NFL history with three career touchdown catches of at least 85 yards is one of the strangest things in football history. Hank only had three other touchdown catches in his career, none longer than 10 yards. He actually had three TD catches of at least 87 yards but NONE between 11 and 86 yards. That’s absurd.

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