Good morning, Eagles fans! The Birds are back in the building, returning to the NovaCare Complex today for team meetings before getting back to the practice fields tomorrow afternoon. Here's everything you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
1. Six Preseason Takeaways
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro provided a big-picture view of what the Eagles have done in the preseason and offered six reasons that the results are much better than the team's 0-3 record. One of them is the return of the injured players:
The injured players from last year are making great progress. Defensive end Brandon Graham is already back on the practice field. Quarterback Carson Wentz looks absolutely great and should make a quick and successful transition to the starter's role when the medical team gives him the final green light, whenever that is. Alshon Jeffery is all kinds of bulked up as he recovers from his rotator cuff injury and the Eagles are excited to get him back in the offense. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan remains the biggest mystery after having back surgery, but wouldn't the Eagles have gone out and added to the position if they thought Jernigan would be out for an extended period of time into the regular season?
2. Doug Pederson On The National Stage
Head coach Doug Pederson made the rounds on television yesterday promoting his new memoir Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion. His first stop was on CBS This Morning where he answered a wide range of questions about his coaching philosophy and last year's underdog-fueled championship run:
"We came out in the postseason and we played the Falcons and some of our players wore the dog masks," Pederson said. "And now, having won a championship obviously, I think the dog masks can come off and we're no longer the underdog. It's something that we can learn from obviously as a team. I'm going to learn from it as we move forward into 2018.
"I think there's a work ethic that goes along with it and it's something the team showed last season with the amount of injuries that piled up and losing our starting QB at the end of the season in the season. ... There are definitely some underlying methods and ways of motivating your team through an underdog mentality."
Pederson ended his day with a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.
3. Jim Schwartz Showcases A Few New Tricks
Fran Duffy's deep dive on Thursday night's preseason game showcases a few new wrinkles to Jim Schwartz's blitz package:
We also saw a couple of Cover 0 blitzes from Schwartz's unit. A Cover 0 blitz is an all-out pressure, meaning you are sending more defenders than the offense can block. This means all of your coverage players are on an island with no help in the middle of the field. The Eagles disguise this pressure well, and when they show blitz late in the pre-snap phase, the running back does not account for Jordan Hicks coming inside. Hicks flies into the backfield and takes Taylor down for the sack.
The Eagles show a very similar pressure look on third-and-long later in the game. It looks like it could be another Cover 0 pressure, at least that's what Schwartz wants you to think. Seven defenders are at the line of scrimmage, but three of them drop out at the snap of the ball, two of them into Mayfield's first throwing lane. The rookie looks confused, begins to run around, and is sacked late in the down. I'm excited to see what new wrinkles are revealed in the Eagles' defensive attack this fall.
4. ESPN Preparing For Another Parade Down Broad Street
ESPN's Football Power Index released its model predictions for the 2018 NFL season. Eagles fans will enjoy its findings.
The article yesterday highlighted eight key predictions from the FPI's model, the first of which predicted a third Super Bowl matchup between Philadelphia and New England:
"The Eagles and Patriots are on a collision course for another showdown, with each bringing back the key elements that brought them to Minneapolis last season. For Philadelphia, it's a stacked roster, from Fletcher Cox to Alshon Jeffery to Brandon Graham, along with four-down fiend Doug Pederson. For the Patriots, it's Tom Brady, Bill Belichick - and then nothing else seems to matter after that.
FPI makes each the favorite in their respective conference to reach the Super Bowl, and, if you want to know the actual probability of the matchup, it's 7 percent - higher than any other.
As for who wins? Well, Philly, get ready to party again."