Philadelphia Eagles

Facing another pupil, Andy Reid poses tall task for Doug Pederson, Eagles

Facing another pupil, Andy Reid poses tall task for Doug Pederson, Eagles

Student meets master this weekend in Kansas City, and if Andy Reid's history is any indication, this could be quite a challenge for Doug Pederson.

Reid is 8-3 against his former assistant coaches and 3-0 since becoming head coach of the Chiefs. His 12th career matchup against one of his former assistants takes place Sunday, when the Eagles face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Reid and Pederson have a long history together, going back to 1995, when Pederson was a third-string quarterback with the Packers and Reid was Mike Holmgren's offensive line coach.

Pederson was Reid's opening day quarterback here in 1999, then joined Reid's Eagles coaching staff as a quality control coach in 2009. He moved up to quarterbacks coach in 2011 and followed Reid to Kansas City in 2013, spending three years as offensive coordinator before Jeff Lurie hired him as head coach, replacing Chip Kelly — who had replaced Reid.

“He got in and loved every minute of it," Reid said Monday of Pederson, who took just five years to advance from quality control coach to head coach.

"He gobbled it up, and he earned every position that he got. I don’t think people who had worked with him were surprised he had the opportunity to be a coordinator, and then I don’t think they were surprised when he had the opportunity to be a head coach.

“The guys who worked with him knew what he was capable of doing, and so what seemed like a fast-paced progression for people outside of here seemed kind of natural for the people who were here. I have a lot of respect for him and I think he’s doing a nice job there.” 

The Eagles went 7-9 last year under Pederson and opened this season with a win in Washington. The Chiefs, 2-14 the year before Reid arrived, are 44-21 under Reid, who is 11th in NFL history with 174 wins and ninth with 11 playoff wins.

Reid actually has a much higher winning percentage with the Chiefs (.677) than with the Eagles (.583), who he took to the playoffs nine times from 2000 to 2010.

Counting his years as a player and an assistant, Pederson has been with Reid for 13 years.

"Consistency. Being honest, being open, and being fair with the players," Pederson said Monday when asked what he learned from Reid. "Teaching, coaching, probably the biggest things.

"And just — I think it's the attention to detail that he has with his players and his coaches, and those are some of the biggest things I've learned from him."

The last time the Eagles won a playoff game without Reid was 1995. They've won only five without him since 1961.

Reid coached 224 Eagles games, more than twice as many as anybody else in the team's 85-year history. Greasy Neale, who led the team to the 1948 and 1949 NFL championships, is second with 111 games.

The only other coaches in the last 50 years to last more than four seasons with the Eagles are Dick Vermeil and Buddy Ryan.

“No, you don’t forget it, it’s part of your history, part of your life," Reid said of his 14 years in Philly. 

"I don’t want to forget Philadelphia. The people there were great to me. The organization was great to me. But again, I’m all red now. I’m all in with the Chiefs and I’m loving it here. 

"There’s nothing like Arrowhead, and I welcome them to Arrowhead. I know our fans will be ready to welcome them in, too.”

Reid's first game against a former assistant was in 2007, when the Eagles beat Brad Childress' Vikings, 23-16, in Minneapolis. During the 2008 NFC Championship Game season, the Eagles lost to John Harbaugh's Ravens in Baltimore — that was the game Donovan McNabb got benched — then beat Childress' Vikings in a wild-card game in Minneapolis.

The Eagles lost late in 2010 to Leslie Frazier's Vikings at the Linc in that dismal Tuesday night makeup game that cost the team a first-round bye — the Joe Webb game. 

Reid beat Steve Spagnuolo's Rams in 2011, Pat Shurmur's Browns in the 2012 opener and Harbaugh's Ravens later in 2012 before losing to Ron Rivera's Panthers later in 2012.

With the Chiefs, he has wins over Harbaugh's Ravens in 2015 and Todd Bowles' Jets and Rivera's Panthers last year.

"It will be fun," Pederson said. "It will be fun to see him over there, 'Big Red' on the other side. But at the same time, I know he wants to kick my tail and I want to kick his.

"Listen, Andy Reid teams are well-prepared, as we know, and we've got to do the same thing this week. We've just got to be ultra prepared. That is a tough place to play, now. It is a loud, loud place and we've got to be able to handle that crowd noise. We've got to do it through communication, nonverbal communication. All that has to be on point this week in practice.

"But it will be fun. It will be fun to get out there. But again, once we tee it up and kick it off, it's all about the business and all about the game."

There are only eight Eagles left who played under Reid — Brent Celek, Jason Peters, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Nick Foles, who also played under Reid in Kansas City.

Interesting that the Eagles' strongest position, the defensive line, has the most remaining players from the Reid era — Cox, Graham and Curry.

“Very aggressive on both sides of the ball," Reid said of the Eagles. "They have a really good special teams group. Good coaches, good players.

"If you get in a checking game, they kind of know your checks and signals. So that’s one thing. They know formations. But normally it goes both ways.”

The Chiefs have one of the strongest home-field advantages in the NFL. 

They're 23-9 at home under Reid, the seventh-best home record in the league during that span, but also 19-5 in their last 24 at Arrowhead.

"It's tough," Pederson said. "It's loud. It's a great atmosphere. The fans are right on top of you. Arrowhead Stadium is right on top of you. It's a great place to play."

Fantasy football: Tight end replacements, pass-catching RBs, sleeper WRs

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USA Today Images

Fantasy football: Tight end replacements, pass-catching RBs, sleeper WRs

I'm assuming you need a tight end.

Injuries to Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed have turned a thin position into a fantasy wasteland two weeks into the season. Olsen is out at least eight weeks, Eifert appears to be out this week and has been brutal the last two, and Gronk and Reed will likely be game-time decisions Sunday.

The somewhat good news if you're in the market for a tight end, though, is that there should be several quality options available on waivers.

Here's a look at the top tight ends (and more importantly, top TE matchups) of Week 3, as well as suggestions at other positions:

Bears TE Zach Miller (vs. Steelers)
The Steelers have allowed just 27 points through two games thanks to a pair of favorable matchups against the hapless Browns and a Case Keenum-led Vikings team in Week 2.

Still, through two weeks they've allowed 10 catches and 107 yards to tight ends. If you average that out to 5-for-50, you're looking at a double-digit fantasy performance in PPR leagues. In standard leagues, 50 yards would still be more than Eifert brought you in two weeks.

I like Miller for five or six catches this Sunday. He's been targeted 15 times by Mike Glennon through two games. Only Jason Witten and Zach Ertz have seen more targets.

Miller isn't going to win you a week or go for 25 points but he's a steady short-term plug-and-play this week. If it's a PPR league, he'd be my No. 1 target if you're looking for safety over a boom-bust performance.

Ravens TE Ben Watson (vs. Jaguars in London)
The only reason I can't put Watson ahead of Miller is because the Ravens' tight end picture is a bit more crowded.

Whereas Miller has run 35 more pass routes than the Bears' second-string tight end, the pie in Baltimore has been split more evenly.

Watson has run 33 pass routes while Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams have combined to run 34, according to Pro Football Focus.

Watson is by far the most accomplished receiver of those three and he was a prime target of Joe Flacco's this past Sunday, catching all eight targets for 91 yards. 

Watson also has a great matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed 151 yards (fourth-most) and a TD to tight ends so far.

Watson has more touchdown potential this Sunday than Miller, so if you're in a standard or even half-PPR league, I'd give Watson the slight edge on Miller. In PPR, it's just hard to pass up Miller's 8-to-10-point floor.

Other TEs:
Jack Doyle is probably owned in your league, but if not, he's a better season-long option than both Miller and Watson. He caught 8 of 8 targets for 79 yards in Week 2 from Jacoby Brissett, who starts again this Sunday vs. Cleveland.

• Folks will be intrigued by Evan Engram's 4-49-TD line on Monday Night Football but I'd avoid starting him this week against the Eagles, who are usually very good against opposing tight ends. Travis Kelce was an exception last week but he's one of the top three tight ends in the NFL.

• Keep an eye on the Jordan Reed situation. If he sits, Vernon Davis is a decent option. Last season, Davis had 13 catches for 176 yards and 3 TDs in the first three games Reed missed, having a quiet game in only the last one on Christmas Eve.

• It would be bold to start Antonio Gates against the Chiefs' stingy defense, but Gates always has top-five touchdown likelihood at his position because of his rapport with Philip Rivers. The problem is he also has more 1-catch likelihood than most tight ends.

Running backs
Chris Thompson is available in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues. Whether or not Rob Kelley plays Sunday, Thompson is worth grabbing. If it's a PPR league, he has no business sitting on the waiver wire. He won't scoop up between-the-tackles carries if Kelley misses the game but he's always a factor in the passing game.

• I also like Shane Vereen (22 percent owned) this week against the Eagles. The Giants have a porous offensive line and the Eagles' strength is their pass rush, which should result in plenty of quick passes from Eli Manning.

Wide receivers
• I'd advise picking up Allen Hurns but not starting him Sunday against the Ravens unless you absolutely need to. The Jaguars are always going to be playing garbage time minutes and that's where Hurns shines. He had six receptions for 82 yards and a TD in Week 2 with almost all of that coming in the fourth quarter of a lopsided loss. Hurns is available in 73 percent of leagues.

• I trumpeted Jermaine Kearse in this space last week as a cheap waiver option nobody will use a claim on, and he picked up two TDs Sunday. The Jets, like the Jags, will always be playing from behind. Josh McCown-to-Jermaine Kearse is one of those average QB-average WR pairings that can produce points out of sheer necessity and volume.

• The Packers' Geronimo Allison is a sleeper option this week, if and only if Green Bay is down a receiver or two. Jordy Nelson' prognosis is 50-50 for Sunday, whereas Randall Cobb is expected to play. If both miss, Allison is an intriguing option who could get six-plus targets from a top QB. If Nelson misses, Allison is worth starting only if your next-best option is like Cole Beasley.

Defenses
• The Dolphins are the best defense to stream in Week 3 because the Jets are the Jets.

• The Bucs' defense (26 percent owned) is worth starting in Minnesota if Sam Bradford misses another game.

Eagles Film Review: Exploring the good and bad of run game vs. Chiefs

Eagles Film Review: Exploring the good and bad of run game vs. Chiefs

LeGarrette Blount didn't get a single carry and the Eagles had just 13 designed runs to 56 called passes in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. 

So much for balance. 

After the game, head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles needed to fix their running game and repeated himself on Monday. 

"We've got to focus on the run game and we've got to get the run game fixed," he said. 

But as CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank pointed out in his column that same day, there wasn't really anything wrong with the run game other than the fact that the Eagles didn't run the ball (see story)

Darren Sproles had a good game, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. And while two of Wendell Smallwood's runs went for negative yards, he did have a nice eight-yarder in the second half. 

Is there still work to be done in the run game? Absolutely. 

But when asked about the team's rushing attack on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich took a much different stance than Pederson. 

"There was some good things in the run game," Reich said. "We had a few nice runs. Darren's Darren. I mean, Darren made some plays and the offensive line did a good job at times. So, yeah, there were some good flashes."

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past two days, you're probably already sick of the word "balance." Should Pederson have run the ball more? Should Blount have gotten at least a few carries? Will Pederson ever actually commit to the run? You're probably sick of it. 

So we're not going to keep rehashing it. Instead, we'll look at a few run plays from Sunday — good and bad — to get a sense of where the run game is ... you know, when the Eagles actually do run the ball. 

If you wanted some proof that the Eagles at least put some thought into their run game heading into Kansas City, it came pretty early. Check out how the Eagles were lined up on their second offensive play from scrimmage. 

You'll notice that Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are both lined up to the left side of the line of scrimmage. Here was the line from right to left: Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Johnson, Peters. Carson Wentz is in the shotgun, with Sproles to his right. 

"It was just a little change-up that you throw in there," Reich said. "Typically, you have a couple play packages off there. It was something we saw that we thought we could specifically use to attack their defensive front and their scheme."

Here you'll see each of the offensive linemen's assignments as Sproles is ready to take the handoff and run behind the powerful left side. While the difference in this formation was at left tackle, Kelce is the key. He'll need to get in front on the linebacker. 

The hole is starting to open up and Sproles sees it. Still, if Kelce can't hold his block (circled), it won't matter. 

Not only does Kelce hold his block, but he finishes it too. He ends up driving his man completely out of the play and throws him to the ground. Sproles goes off for a 12-yard gain on 1st-and-10. It was the biggest gain of a designed run on the day. 

Give credit to Pederson for running this next one. Just three plays after that first run, the Eagles are faced with a 2nd-and-13 and Pederson dials up a run to Sproles that picks up six yards and puts them in a manageable third down (that they'll convert). 

Nothing fancy. Peters does a good job in front of holding down his man for just long enough for Sproles to get to the corner and pick up a nice gain. Also, give Kelce credit for getting out and blocking safety Daniel Sorensen. We all seem to notice when Kelce gets blown up at the line of scrimmage, but getting out front on these types of blocks is what he does best. 

The Eagles' next drive is where they start to find some trouble in the run game. Two of their three runs on their second drive of the game went for negative yards and Pederson called just seven run plays after this drive. Perhaps the failure on this sequence drove him away from the ground game for the rest of the afternoon. 

This is a rare time the Eagles actually run the ball from under center. It doesn't work. 

At the handoff point, this play seems doomed. The left A gap is clogged by veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson but it's supposed to be a counter play. Lane Johnson (circled) is left blocking no one, while Brent Celek ends up with two guys. 

Celek takes out the linebacker, but that leaves Allen Bailey all alone with Smallwood, who doesn't have enough time or space to get around him. Meanwhile, Johnson is still blocking air, which very well could have been a miscommunication or a missed assignment. Either way, something didn't go right on this one. 

A few plays later, the Eagles are facing a 2nd-and-15. Like they did earlier in the game, the Eagles are going to use the run to try and set up a more manageable third down. This time, it doesn't work. 

It's a somewhat similar play to the one that picked up six on 2nd-and-long in the first quarter, but this time the Eagles use the bigger side of the field instead of going short field to the right. 

The problem here is that Peters has trouble holding his block on Pro Bowler Justin Houston, who is an underrated run-stuffer because of his pass-rush ability. If Peters is able to keep Houston outside, Seumalo is nailing his assignment and Sproles has a huge hole inside.  

Sproles realizes that Peters has been beaten but it's too late. He tries to bounce it outside but is dropped for a three-yard loss. Peters looked pretty frustrated after this play. 

Instead of setting up a manageable third down, the Eagles end up with a 3rd-and-18. They can't convert. 

After that second-quarter series when the Eagles had two negative plays, they didn't run the ball much, but they didn't completely abandon it either. This play came with 5:41 left in the third. 

Seumalo pulls on the play and does a nice job to get just enough of his man to create a hole (circled). And Trey Burton is fast to the hole, acting almost like a lead blocker. 

From there, Smallwood shows his burst to gain eight yards. Sproles carried the ball on the next play for a gain of three to pick up a first down. It was the only time all game the Eagles ran the ball back-to-back times.

So, no. The Eagles' run game wasn't great on Sunday against the Chiefs. There are still a lot of things to fix. 

But it wasn't that bad either. So while Pederson kept talking about fixing the run game, Reich had it right; there is plenty good about the run game right now. The Eagles just have to stick with it. Even though, if we're being honest, they probably won't.