Donnie Jones is having one of his best seasons to date. The punter's gross (47.4 yards) and net average (41.7 yards) are the best they've been since 2008 and 2009, respectively. If both marks hold, they would be franchise records.
Why has Jones been having such success? He says it all had to do with his offseason training.
"Really, I have Dave Fipp to thank for a lot of it because at the end of last season we really had a long discussion about where I was in my career and the steps that I would need to take to move forward to continue to have success," Jones said on the Eagles Insider Podcast. "I think you always really evaluate yourself and look at where you're at and what you need to do to achieve certain goals you may have. I remember before I left, he looked at me and he said, 'You've got a great talent, but you're going to have to work harder than you've ever worked before.'
"For me, I really took that to heart. Here's a guy that I have a lot of respect for and he's done a lot for me my three years here not only as a coach but just as a person. I really see him like a brother. I went home and I changed a lot of stuff I did in the offseason. I worked out really hard. I ate right. I started kicking earlier than I have, and I think all those things really played into the way that I've been able to kick the ball this year. I would say it's probably been has been one of my better seasons since I started playing. Obviously, that was back in 2004."
At 35 years old, the punter has confirmed he's not anywhere close to calling it quits. He wants to be in the NFL for years to come and is doing anything and everything in his power to continue to improve.
"I took a long, hard look and said, 'If I want to play 20 years, what's it going to take?' It's going to take getting out of that comfort zone, going home and doing things maybe you haven't done and maybe starting earlier, maybe not playing as much golf, which I didn't get to do," Jones said. "I have such a wonderful opportunity to play for this organization, to play in this league. Maximize the time you can play and that comes from putting the effort in in the offseason."
Also on the Eagles Insider Podcast:
Three-And-Out at the 4:25 mark
Enemy Intel at the 25:29 mark
Game Time at the 31:50 mark
Mailing It In at the 42:29 mark
Each week, Fran Duffy and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell take an in-depth look at the All-22 tape from the week prior, breaking down what worked, what didn't and what lies ahead for the Eagles. In this week's Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, the two took a look back at the Eagles' 23-20 victory over the Bills and previewed the upcoming Sunday night showdown against the Arizona Cardinals.
Heading into last weekend's game, running back LeSean McCoy's return overpowered the storyline of Kiko Alonso competing against his former team, but the linebacker put out one of his best performances since returning from the knee injury that kept him sidelined for seven weeks.
"I thought Kiko Alonso had his best game of the year," Cosell said. "He was noticeable on film. I thought he looked a little quicker, faster laterally. I remember one running play where he stepped up, took on a block and made the tackle. I just thought that he looked like a better player. Whether this is the beginning of him getting back to what he was his first year in Buffalo, only time will tell, but he certainly looked like a better player. Clearly, they think he's doing better because in their dime package, he was the linebacker. They're telling you by how they utilize him now that they think he's playing better as well."
As the conversation continued, the two moved toward the upcoming game against the Cardinals, which will be a challenge for the Eagles. With Arizona sitting at 11-2, it's clear that it is a dangerous team in all areas of the game.
Looking at the Cardinals' offense specifically, the Eagles know they will have their hands full as they work to contain the talented receivers and quarterback.
"They certainly can run," Cosell said. "They can beat you with their concepts. They can beat you with pure speed, and Carson Palmer is as good a deep-ball thrower as there is in the league. He as aggressive of a thrower as there is in the league. He will turn it loose. If it's man (coverage), he's throwing the ball."
Also on the Eagle Eye In The Sky Podcast:
Two-technique with Zach Ertz at the 32:27 mark
Saturday Scouting with Bryan Thomas at the 35:54 mark
On the Journey to the Draft Podcast presented by AAA, Fran Duffy and Alex Smith looked at six prospects who have family ties to the NFL.
1. Notre Dame OL Nick Martin - The brother of former Dallas Cowboys first-round round pick Zack Martin, Nick has position versatility with starts at both guard and center. Duffy said that Martin will be a "tough evaluation" because while the younger Martin is a smart, technically sound player, he is not big, not a great athlete and needs to get stronger at the point of attack.
2. Penn State DE Carl Nassib - A former walk-on, Nassib is the brother of New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib. The Penn Stater just wrapped up an awards tour that included the Lombardi Award (as the nation's top lineman), the Ted Hendricks Award (best end) and the Lott IMPACT Trophy honoring the defensive best in character and performance. Nassib led the nation with a school-record 15.5 sacks this season. At 6-7, 272 pounds, the question, Duffy asks, is whether Nassib is a strong-side 4-3 end of a 5-technique in the NFL?
3. USC LB Su'a Cravens - The Trojan is cousins of Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o and Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron. At 6-1, 225 pounds, Cravens is a linebacker/safety hybrid (think Shaq Thompson, who was drafted by the Panthers). Duffy said that there were questions coming into the year whether he was stout enough to hold up against the run, but the tape vs. Stanford helped put those to rest. Cravens declared for the NFL Draft.
4. USC RB Tre Madden - A big back at 6-1, 225 pounds, Madden's grandfather is former All-Pro running back Lawrence McCutcheon and uncle is Daylon McCutcheon, a former NFL cornerback. The big question with Madden is health, as injuries has plagued his USC career. Duffy noted that Madden does bring value on third downs with his pass protection and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
5. South Carolina T Brandon Shell - Shell's great uncle is Hall of Famer Art Shell. Played right tackle in 2014 before shifting to left tackle this season. Duffy calls Shell a "prototypical right tackle" with really long arms and the ability to move people at the point of attack. Will play at the East-West Shrine Game next month.
6. Utah State WR Hunter Sharp - Cousin is linebacker Derrick Johnson of the Chiefs. Listed at 6-0, 200, Sharp is a versatile quick weapon who can be used as a gadget player. Duffy wonders if Sharp's athleticism is elite enough to make him a threat in the NFL. In fact, Duffy compared Sharp to former Eagle Damaris Johnson.