1) The Eagles' best deep threat through six games has been Riley Cooper. The veteran wide receiver is averaging 18.6 yards per catch, and three of his 11 catches have been for more than 30 yards.
It is similar to 2013, Cooper's first season as a starter, when he carved a role in Chip Kelly's offense and received a new contract in part because of his ability tracking deep balls downfield. He caught 13 passes of more than 20 yards that season, including touchdowns of 45, 47, and 63. He averaged 17.8 yards per reception.
"His baseball background, you know, he tracks the ball well in the deep part of the field," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "So typically, if the ball is thrown down around Riley, he'll do a good job downfield."
Cooper was once a 15th-round draft pick of the Phillies, and that baseball background has been referenced in the past. When a ball is in the air, he knows how to find and get under it – and his big body allows him to catch the ball in traffic.
However, Cooper was not a deep threat last season. He averaged only 10.5 yards per catch in 2014, and he had only one catch of greater than 22 yards.
"The scheme is the same," Shurmur said. "Maybe the ball just didn't get there as much."
2) One under-the-radar contributor who has stood out to the Eagles' coaching staff is cornerback E.J. Biggers. The seven-year veteran is the Eagles' third cornerback, but his versatility is valued by Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis. He has played 37 percent of the defensive snaps this season in a few roles.
"What E.J. brings is a great quickness and speed, and then his intelligence," Davis said. "We're doing a great job of bringing guys with high football IQs into the building, and what he allows is he can play corner, nickel or dime for us at any given snap. So in every game plan, we can go into it with him and Malcolm [Jenkins] both being able to switch. Malcolm can play anything, but E.J. has got the corner, nickel and dime spots down, which is a little bit different for an offense in their identification and their protection, so that screws with them a little bit."
The Eagles want versatile players in the defensive backfield so they can adjust throughout a game and based on the opponent. In some games, Biggers has played outside – other times, he has played inside. Jenkins and Walter Thurmond have played deep safety, in the box, and in the slot. Nolan Carroll can play inside or outside. So Biggers is another option to give Davis flexibility.
"E.J. has been a real big addition," Davis said.
3) Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly played for Eagles outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern at Boston College, and the two maintain a strong relationship.
"He's one of my favorite coaches," said Kuechly, who is also close with McGovern's family.
McGovern was Kuechly's position coach and defensive coordinator at BC. Kuechly developed into a first-round pick under McGovern's watch.
"I think he pushed me," Kuechly said. "I think the biggest quality he has is his ability to really connect with guys. He loves coaching football. He wants to win. And I think he realizes what's more important is the relationship with players. And that goes a long way. He's super smart Xs and Os-wise, but he's even better understanding his guys, knowing what makes them tick.
"I'm sure he knows about all the guys in his room and what they do and what they like to do, and whether they're married or have kids. That's important for a coach to know: what they like on the field, and what they're like off the field, because they go hand-in-hand."