Eagles Offense vs. Saints D: Stoppable Force Meets Moveable Object

Eagles Offense vs. Saints D: Stoppable Force Meets Moveable Object

At 17.1 points per game, Philadelphia features the NFL's 28th ranked scoring offense in the NFL, while they have also given the ball away 17 times, tied for the fourth-most. Their inability to protect the football and convert opportunities into points is the biggest reasons why the Eagles are standing at 3-4 today.

Tonight the Birds will be faced with their best opportunity to break that trend when they face off against the league's worst defense in New Orleans.

How bad is the Saints' defense? Two clubs have surrendered more points than New Orleans this year -- Tennessee and Buffalo -- but none can even come close in yards allowed. The Saints are dead last at 474.7 yards per game, with the next closest being the Bills at 417.9. That's a difference of 56.8 YPG, a gap that is larger than the one separating Buffalo from the next 10 defenses.

New Orleans is not much better in one phase than another, either. They've allowed the most rushing yards per game this season (170.1), though just barely. The Bills are right there with them (169.5), and are probably actually a worse unit based on a per carry average and touchdowns. Either way, that's nearly 30 yards more on the ground than the 30th ranked run defense.

Yet amazingly, the Saints' pass defense might be an even bigger issue. After an idle Sunday, New Orleans dropped to 31st in YPG (304.6), and they are last place in a slew of other categories. 9.1 yards per attempts is a full tick above the 29th-ranked pass D, and not surprisingly, opposing quarterbacks are most efficient versus the Saints with a passer rating of 110.6.

One lesson for Eagles fans: it just goes to show a defensive coordinator is only as good as the talent he has to work with. Back in January, the city was clamoring for Steve Spagnuolo, who had been fired from his head coaching job in St. Louis. He wound up in New Orleans, which seemed like a great gig at the time, but the roster is lacking the parts to succeed on that side of the football.

Whether the Birds are able to take advantage is another story. The offensive line is down to two starters from last season's group -- Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans -- and LeSean McCoy is averaging 2.6 yards per carry over the last three games behind the patchwork unit.

While that disappointing trend figures to break on Monday, the Eagles will likely need to put points on the board to keep up with Drew Brees, and that means an improved effort from Michael Vick, too. Vick has done some things well in recent weeks. He's completed over 60% of his passes in four consecutive games, and thrown six touchdowns to just two interceptions. However, he's also been inconsistent, and the offense simply hasn't scored enough.

Even if Vick does snap out of his funk tonight, and tosses his best game of the season, what will it mean? Picking apart the Saints' miserable defense will hardly restore confidence in the offense.

On second thought, perhaps the real question is what will it mean if Vick can't move his troops up and down the field and into the end zone?

Is Eagles' Carson Wentz the 'holy grail' of modern NFL QB prospects?

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Is Eagles' Carson Wentz the 'holy grail' of modern NFL QB prospects?

The NFL is constantly evolving, but pro offenses, their very design, and the types of athletes who can run those offenses are changing, rapidly beyond recognition.

That is precisely one of the reasons behind the Eagles' bold decision to trade three years worth of draft picks in April for the opportunity to get Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State. Because Wentz didn't represent merely another quarterback prospect coming out of college — some feel as though this 23-year-old kid might be the future of the position in the NFL.

Don't take my word for it. Take that of Brad Childress, former Eagles offensive coordinator who eventually wound up following long-time head coach Andy Reid to Kansas City. It's there where Childress was tasked with a unique role: "spread game analyst."

For more on that, what the spread offense is and how its prevalence in the college game is altering the landscape of the NFL, you'll have to read Kevin Clark's piece over at The Ringer. Trust us, it's worth it. Long-time Eagles executive Joe Banner hails the piece as, "One of the best, smartest, most correct articles I have read in a long time," and it's hard to argue. Chances are you'll learn something.

But for our purposes, the aspect of the piece we'll focus on is how the growth of the spread offense is tied to the selection of Wentz. NFL coaches like Childress or front-office types such as Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman see in Wentz a rare hybrid of the the spread and pro-style quarterback, which as it turns out, may be ideally suited to succeed in a league that increasingly uses both types of offense.

Childress, meanwhile, believes the current holy grail is the prospect who ran spread plays at the college level that can be easily imported to the pro level. He mentioned Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who at North Dakota State played in a multiple-style offense that incorporated spread concepts. Childress was impressed that Wentz played under center sometimes and in the shotgun at other times, and that regardless of the formation, he was adept at making various throws. He said some of the sweep plays Wentz ran were particularly impressive, and that he wants to incorporate what he saw into the Chiefs’ game plan.

Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman, who took Wentz second overall in the draft, called his college system “a pro-style concept that hints at where the sport is going.” Roseman, like Spielman, said that changes in the college game have forced him to alter how he evaluates passers: Because the college game is so different from the NFL game, Roseman is forced to put less emphasis on tape and more emphasis on test scores and smarts.

It's an extremely interesting perspective. It also jives with another line of thinking many believe led the Eagles to jump all over Wentz: There may not be another college signal-caller with this type of makeup to come around for a long time, as more and more programs go to entirely spread-based systems.

Yes, concepts of the spread have made their way to the NFL, and they're likely there to stay. However, whether it will become an offense that's fully embraced around the league is a bit trickier, which is why it's probably best to have somebody who can do it all. That partially explains why Wentz became so attractive to the Eagles.

It's also not at all surprising that Childress, Reid, Roseman and current Eagles coach Doug Pederson would all share similar mindsets on the direction the NFL is headed. There are too many ties here for it to be purely a coincidence, and Clark's piece about the spread offense would seem to shed some light on some of the back story about how Wentz became an Eagle.

Experience a day in the life of Temple football's training camp

Experience a day in the life of Temple football's training camp

Before their classmates even stepped foot on campus, Temple football was going through what was possibly their toughest test of the season—three weeks of training camp.

Coach Matt Rhule and the Owls gave us a behind-the-scenes look at what the players and coaches go through during a day of camp in the video above. We were there through the meetings, meals and walk-thrus before the team eventually departed for the Phillies game. It was a 12 + hour day for the players, but with walk-thrus replacing actual practice, this particular day was considered a “light” one.

This Temple squad still have veteran leadership returning from last season, but they have to replace multiple NFL draft picks on defense. Everyone from seniors to freshmen will be looked upon to keep up the Owls' strong defense going (see story)

Rhule is in his fourth season as the Owls' head coach. After going 2-10 in his first season, Rhule has brought Temple to a 10-4 record a year ago, highlighted by an appearance in the AAC Championship Game and the Boca Raton Bowl. However, the Owls are already moving past their strong 2015 (see story).

For a look at Temple's training camp, check out the video above.

Charles Barkley weighs in on Zeke Elliott: 'all marijuana made me want to do was eat potato chips'

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Charles Barkley weighs in on Zeke Elliott: 'all marijuana made me want to do was eat potato chips'

Charles Barkley may have recently had his hip replaced but he hasn't let a little procedure slow him down. Well, slow his mouth down at least.

Sir Charles joined the 94 WIP morning show on Friday to chat with his old pal Howard Eskin.

The worst part about the hip replacement and need to use a walker for about six weeks?

“I can’t put my foot up your [butt] like I want to," Barkley told Eskin.

Their conversation was wide ranging: Olympics basketball, Cowboys RB Zeke Elliott being photographed in a marijuana shop in Seattle, his new show on TNT show "The Race Card," and anything else that came into his head.

They started off talking about Team USA and their gold medal in Rio. Sir Charles thinks they need more role players on that type of team.

"I thought they had too many ball-dominant guys. You need role players for that team to flow freely," Barkley said, pointing to DeAndre Jordan as one of the few guys on the team who played his role nicely without needing the ball.

Barkley would also love to see young players like Ben Simmons or even Nerlens Noel in the Olympics to make them more watchable.

Perhaps the funniest line of the interview came up when talking about Zeke Elliot being in a marijuana shop in Seattle where such a store is legal.

“That’s just stupid,” Barkley said.

“Come on, man. You gotta be smarter than that. I’m not a marijuana guy. I smoked pot like five times in my life. All it made me want to do was eat potato chips. It was like a waste of my time. I didn’t feel no euphoria it didn’t take me to no special place. I just said, ‘do we have any more potato chips in the state of Alabama or Pennsylvania.’”

The two briefly mentioned Barkley's new show on TNT which will focus a lot on race relations.

“Cops have made some mistakes but we need the cops," Charles said. "We as black people need to do a much better job at policing ourselves. It’s not like it’s a right or wrong answer, there are a lot of layers.”

It's interesting to hear Barkley talk about a nuanced issue. You don't typically hear Sir Charles consider things with more than an instant response.

And, finally, the interview ended with Chuck saying something we can all agree on after learning Eskin was flying out to Indiana for an Eagles preseason football game.

“Preseason football may be the greatest scam in the world today. What a waste of time.”

Yep.

Check out the podcast of Barkley's interview here.