Philadelphia, PA: The training camp for the Philadelphia Eagles is really heating up, as players close out the first week of practice. Michael Vick is in working order at quarterback, with no obvious injury as of yet. DeSean Jackson has been pushing himself to his limits, so much so that he sustained a toe injury during a padless indoor practice. 1st to 4th round draft pick Matt Barkley is talking as much as ever in the belief that he has a shot to start. Coach Chip Kelly is cracking the whip to the point that NFL officials are telling him to settle down. It seems to be an honorable time to be a Philly fan.
One of the most interesting rumors to come out of the Eagles training camp is the alleged plan to feature 2nd string wide receiver Riley Cooper in an offensive pass formation. In recent history, the only other player to have a formation built around him is Hall of Fame bound quarterback Peyton Manning, whose Squawk formation has followed him from the Indianapolis Colts to the Denver Broncos. Like Manning’s offensive spread, the formation featuring Cooper will be on the field as much as the player himself can sustain it.
Sources report that the Eagle’s formation, tentatively named Broken Wing, will be a decoy pass spread, meant to draw the defense in the opposite direction of the player who will actually be thrown the ball. Riley Cooper will be featured in it, but as the decoy, not the target receiver.
“The Eagles believe that, due to Riley Cooper’s recent…talent, defensive players are focused on making sure that he doesn’t beat them with his elite skills,” explained Philadelphia sports analyst Paul Emmerlan. “While position legends like Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, and Chris Carter would usually draw double coverage from the safeties, the Eagles believe that Riley Cooper may have the talent to draw triple, or even quadruple, coverage from the defense. When that happens, the slotted receiver on the opposite end will be wide open for a completion that can lead to a touchdown.”
The formation looks suspiciously like a way for the Eagles to take advantage of defensive players potentially targeting Riley Cooper on the field due to racial slurs he was caught throwing around at a Kenny Chesney concert via video. Cowboys safety Will Allen confirmed that the targeting could happen.
“Absolutely. I’m just going to be honest,” Allen said. “You don’t want to see that, but somebody is. Somebody is going to be mad and perpetuate the negativity. I don’t think that’s something we should do, but I am sure it will happen.”
Riley Cooper has come under immense scrutiny this past week when the video from June of him tossing out the racial slur to an African-American security guard was released. He has since apologized profusely, to his team, fellow players, the media, his family, and anyone else who might have been offended to the slur, his sleeveless plaid shirt, or the fact that he was at a Kenny Chesney concert. The internet has lambasted him with memes, and the Eagles plan to send him out for a sensitivity training class.
Luckily for Cooper, people are ready and willing to forgive. One of his most vocal supporters is Eagles starting quarterback, Michael Vick.
“[Cooper] being my brother, knowing him for so long, it’s hard to defend him saying that. At the same, time, it happened. We talked about it man to man, one on one. We just know that we have to some way move on. It’s a very delicate situation. But we all understand. Somehow we all have to find a way to get past it. That’s maturity in itself…. Riley is still my teammate,” Vick said. “And he just stood in front of us as a man and apologized for what he said. And somewhere deep down, you have to find some level of respect for that. Riley wished he never said it.”
The Broken Wing formation is slated to be introduced to the Eagles’ offensive scheme once pre-season games begin, and will continue to be used until it proves to be ineffective (i.e. Riley Cooper becomes injured).