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August 07, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: After strong practice, Tebowmania hits Philly

Tim Tebow was the story of Wednesday’s practice. Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you will listen to these people:

“Tim Tebow had a really good day, and more specifically, he had a terrific series in which he threw three passes down the field that were all on the money.” – Jimmy Kempski

“Tebow is up and down, but he was a little more up than down. Prior to Eagles training camp, I felt there was a pretty good chance that Tebow would make Philadelphia's final roster. My mind hasn't changed. I'm pretty confident he makes the team.” – Brandon Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation

“Tebow gets hot! He fires a ball down the seam to Mike Johnson for a huge gain. Johnson beat JaCorey Shepherd on the play. Then Tebow lofts a corner route to Pratt and connects again. Finally, a bomb down the left sideline to Mostert on a wheel route. Three huge plays in a row for Tebow.” – Sheil Kapadia, Birds 24/7

“If you’re a Tim Tebow fan — and judging by Tuesday’s Linc practice, plenty of you are — this was your day. Tebow dazzled in first grouping of reps in the 11-on-11 drills.”  – Geoff Mosher, CSN Philly

“As a Cowboys fan, this worries me very deeply.” – Skip Bayless, ESPN

OK, so that last one wasn’t true, but you know deep down Skip believes Tebow is a better quarterback than Tony Romo. Tebow was traveling around the SEC with Paul Finebaum this time last year. Even if he only wins the Eagles’ third-string quarterback job, that would still be a pretty impressive turnaround. We’ll see if he can build on his strong practice.

Wednesday recap

1. Kiko Alonso has a concussion and DeSean Jackson has a separated shoulder. Worth a click just to see Jimmy’s artwork of the unfortunate blocking sled incident down at Redskins training camp.

2. Here is the Chip Kelly Racist Tracker, which may or may not have been an excuse for Jimmy to reveal that he texts with Evan Mathis.

3. Mullin wrote about how things like the Eagles’ high-tempo practices are influenced by Kelly’s philosophy.

What they’re saying

Chip Kelly's growth problem: Jason Whitlock, ESPN

Here is another big name offering a take on the comments that Brandon Boykin (and DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Tra Thomas before him) offered about Kelly on his way out of the door at the NovaCare Complex. Within the piece, Whitlock said that Duce Staley is the only black position coach on the Eagles staff, which is the lowest number in the NFL:

It may be that it is this NFL culture that Boykin is referencing. NFL players are not powerless amateurs. They are adults with lives, families and responsibilities. Kelly may be struggling to relate to those facts, not differences of color or race. You can't lead grown men without being transparent, approachable and understanding of what being a pro football player is about.

Chip Kelly won't make it in the NFL over the long haul if he can't develop comfort with grown men of that culture. If you're going to be a no-nonsense hard-ass in the NFL, you have to show an equal amount of love to your players off the field. By all accounts, Kelly is distant from his players. This won't work. Marty Schottenheimer and Dick Vermeil were as demanding as any head coaches I've seen. They preferred long, grueling practices. They loved their players. Vermeil and his wife basically adopted many of the Chiefs players.

Ryan Mathews doesn't look as if he's playing second fiddle: Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer

DeMarco Murray has missed team drills in two of the first four days of training camp, so some of the focus has shifted to the other big-name back the Eagles signed in free agency:

But it has been virtually impossible to watch the Eagles' first four practices of training camp and not notice Mathews. Murray's limited action has helped. But there may not be a player in camp as freakishly athletic. Mathews is a compact 6-foot, 220 pounds and can still move.

The Assembly Line Approach: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

While Lawlor didn’t mind the Boykin decision, he’s still frustrated that the undersized corner didn’t get a chance on the outside while Bradley Fletcher got continually roasted:

While I think Kelly made the right decision in trading Boykin, I am frustrated that Kelly didn’t give Boykin a chance to play on the outside. The defense was really struggling last year. Why not give Boykin a shot? Even if you just mix him in here and there. Find out for sure.

Those critical of Kelly for dealing Boykin do have to realize that while he never got a fair chance to play outside in Philly, that doesn’t mean Kelly’s judgment was wrong. Boykin might prove to be in over his head when going up against A.J. Green twice a year. The frustration lies in the fact we didn’t get to find out for sure here in Philly.

Jets, Chiefs, Eagles boast most improved secondaries in the NFL: Bucky Brooks,

Brooks likes what the Birds did on the back end of the defense in the offseason:

Consequently, the Eagles needed to overhaul their secondary and add more athletic defenders with superb man-to-man skills on the perimeter. Byron Maxwell comes over from the "Legion of Boom" to serve as the Eagles' CB1. Although he is probably most comfortable on the quarterback's blind side (RCB), Maxwell gives the Eagles a physical corner to challenge the likes of Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and DeSean Jackson in the NFC East. Veteran Nolan Carroll and rookie Eric Rowe are fighting to start opposite Maxwell; right now it appears Carroll will get the nod, with Rowe manning the valuable nickel corner position. Offseason addition Walter Thurmond brings cover-corner skills to the free safety position.

Ron Jaworski ranked Sam Bradford as the league’s 20th-best quarterback:

The last time Sam Bradford played was in 2013. He made seven starts before a torn ACL ended his season. There has never been a question about Bradford’s throwing ability. And many will remember that he played in a speed tempo offense in college that ran more than 80 plays per game in his Heisman trophy-winning season. Here’s what you’ll see in Philadelphia. Bradford in the shotgun, a lot of run-action looks and vertical seam throws. Vertical seam throws are a staple of Chip Kelly’s pass offense. The run-action holds the underneath defenders. Then you get a matchup you like – an athletic tight end on a linebacker. These seam throws versus man coverage demand precise ball location. Bradford, at his best, is that kind of passer.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann