Roob's 10 observations a month after the Super Bowl

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Roob's 10 observations a month after the Super Bowl

It’s been a month now, and I’m guessing most Eagles fans still wake up some mornings, sit up, look around and then the reality hits them.

“Holy crap … The Eagles actually won the Super Bowl.”

This is called winning. And it's fun.

All of our lives changed in one way or another that frigid February evening in Minneapolis. So let’s take a look back with 10 Eagles Observations One Month after They Won the Super Bowl.

1. One thing I didn’t expect going into the Super Bowl was a big game from LeGarrette Blount. Blount’s productivity had clearly dropped the second half of the season. Through the Bears game in November, he was averaging 4.8 yards per carry — fourth-highest in the NFL. The next seven weeks, Blount averaged 2.9 yards per carry — second-worst in the NFL during that span. The other thing is, the Super Bowl is a young man’s game. Going into Super Bowl LII, only two running backs Blount’s age had rushed for 50 yards in a Super Bowl while averaging 4.0 yards per carry — none since O.J. Anderson in 1991. No running back 31 or older had ever averaged 6.0 yards per carry in a Super Bowl. Or even 5.0. So history was against him. And on the Eagles’ first drive, Blount had two carries for minus-1 yard. But Doug Pederson stuck with Blount, and on Blount's next carry, he plowed through traffic for a 36-yard gain, and on his following carry, he ran 21 yards for a touchdown. Blount finished with 14 carries for 90 yards, unprecedented numbers for a back his age. It was a remarkable performance, even more remarkable considering his age and the way he finished the season.

2. Putting Tom Brady’s performance in context, he became only the seventh quarterback in NFL history — regular season or postseason — with 500 passing yards and no interceptions in a game. That’s what the Eagles overcame.

3. And this: Going into the Super Bowl, 39 teams in NFL history had gained 600 yards in a game and none had lost. The Eagles allowed 613 and won.

4. Keep this in mind when watching the combine: The Eagles’ Super Bowl roster had more players who were undrafted or drafted in the fifth through seventh rounds (28) than drafted in the first three rounds (23). The combine has its purpose, but ultimately how many reps you do or how fast you do the three-cone drill doesn’t make you a champion.

5. For those who still buy into the nonsense that Nick Foles’ postseason was a fluke, consider this: Only six quarterbacks in NFL history have had more postseason games with a passer rating of 100 before their 30th birthday: Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. If Foles was a fluke, then those guys were flukes, too.

6. Let’s put the Eagles’ offensive performance in Super Bowl LII into context: The Eagles netted 374 passing yards and 164 rushing yards. That made them the first Super Bowl team and only the fourth team in NFL postseason history with 350 passing yards and 150 rushing yards. The Eagles recorded the fifth-most passing yards in a Super Bowl and the sixth-highest rushing average. How do you stop that combination? It speaks volumes about Pederson’s play calling that the Eagles were able to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and that he was able to mix up the play calls to the point where whatever he dialed up worked. Doug called a perfect game. The man is a genius.

7. Regarding the Philly Special, I don’t know what’s more incredible to watch: The exchange between Doug and Nick on the sideline or the play itself. I still can’t believe either one actually happened.

8. All year Pederson spoke about how he wanted his guys to just have fun, do what they do best, relax and enjoy every moment. That was just Corey Clement, Trey Burton and Nick Foles being themselves and having fun on that play. You can’t execute that play under that spotlight, on 4th down in a Super Bowl, with 100 million people watching, if you aren’t loose and free and having fun.  

9. I was talking to Clement postgame in the locker room when an emotional Jeff Lurie came over and embraced him. I snapped this with my phone. Love this picture:  

10. The most amazing stat ever is that Foles has 14 incomplete passes combined in the second half of his four career postseason starts. Fourteen. He’s 48 for 62 for 544 yards with five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 130.4 passer rating. That’s not even possible.

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'best ever'

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Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'best ever'

As Michael Bennett watched the Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, he couldn’t help but think about how he would fit with the Birds’ defensive line.

And how he could make an already impressive unit even better.

“Then a month later, it happens,” Bennett said at his introductory press conference in Philly on Monday afternoon. “Things always happen for a reason. This is just another great opportunity.”

Bennett is 32 now, but is coming off his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. He clearly thinks he has plenty left in the tank and the Eagles obviously agree. They traded with the Seahawks to get him and then released a more expensive Vinny Curry.

The Birds then brought in Haloti Ngata and let Beau Allen walk in free agency. So the Eagles’ defensive line now includes Bennett, Ngata, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Derek Barnett. The group includes five former first-round picks and has a combined 11 Pro Bowls between them.

On Monday afternoon, Bennett put the quarterbacks of the NFC East on notice (see story) and then didn’t mince words about how great this defensive line can be in 2018.

“I think it can be one of the greatest,” he said. “I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game if we approach the game every single way. Just go out there and just keep doing what they’re doing and just finding a way to add and just keep showing how many great players.

“I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State. You want to be able to have those guys who can come in and shoot and shoot and score every time.”

This isn’t the first time an Eagles defensive lineman has compared the unit to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, it was Curry who said it last October after the Eagles tortured San Francisco's C.J. Beathard for an afternoon at the Linc (see story). Curry’s out and Bennett is in, but the rotation is still going strong.

Bennett played 934 defensive snaps for the Seahawks in 2017. That was the third-most of any defensive lineman in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Graham led the Eagles’ defensive linemen in snaps with 666 in the regular season; that ranked 43rd in the NFL among defensive linemen.

So maybe that means that the disruptive numbers Bennett put up in Seattle were because he played so much. Or, on the flip side, staying fresh might actually help increase his productivity and lead to more longevity. The Eagles are hoping for the latter.

“I’m comfortable with taking less plays, man,” Bennett said. “But, like I said, I came here to be an All-Star, just like I’ve been, to continuously play at a Pro Bowl level and I don’t think that’s no different. Just taking snaps off, being able to have a [longer] career, it’s something that every player wishes and dreams about. And this organization, when you think about play snaps and counts and keeping guys fresh for the moments that count.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s not about September or October or November; it’s about January and February. To be able to keep guys fresh and to have those opportunities where you have guys to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can. You gotta go out there and play savage every single play and I think less snaps can give me the opportunity to do that.”

Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

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Michael Bennett's strong message to NFC East QBs

It wasn't quite a WWE throwdown message, but Michael Bennett definitely put NFC East quarterbacks on notice during his introductory press conference at the NovaCare Complex on Monday afternoon.

He's coming for them.

And so are the rest of his defensive line teammates.

"I know Eli Manning is probably watching this and thinking, like, yes I'm coming," said Bennett, whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with the Seahawks. "I know Dak (Prescott) is watching this like, 'Yeah, he's coming.' Yeah, I am.

"And Alex Smith, he knows he can't run from me. I told him at the Pro Bowl. So it's definitely going to be a great season and it's going to be fun to chase quarterbacks. I just know third down it's just going to be ... and second down and first down, it's just going to be fun."

When Bennett, 32, named all three of the starting quarterbacks from the NFC East, he was actually answering a question about comparing the defensive schemes from Seattle and Philadelphia. Bennett began by saying that he played with some great players in Seattle, before saying he doesn't think there's a tight end in the NFL that can block him.

From there, he started to name the QBs.

Manning in New York. Prescott in Dallas. And recently-acquired Smith in Washington. They'll all be seeing Bennett twice this season.

Bennett is basically replacing Vinny Curry on the Eagles' defensive line, and Haloti Ngata is basically replacing Beau Allen. While Curry and Allen are younger, many think Bennett and Ngata are improvements in the short-term, which means the strength of the Eagles' defense from 2017 is even stronger in 2018.

While Curry had just three sacks in 2017 and has gone over the four-sack mark just once in his six-year career, Bennett has had at least five sacks in all of those last six seasons. Bennett has 48 sacks since 2012 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons.

While there was a report that surfaced saying Seattle was trying to part ways with socially active players, Bennett said he didn't give it much credence. His relationship with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll goes beyond football and he knows Seattle was just trying to unload him to get something back in return; it's part of the business.

It seems likely that in Philly, Bennett will get a chance to play both inside and outside. His versatility was used in a similar fashion in Seattle, but he also played a ton of snaps, which he won't have to do in the Eagles' rotation. It should keep him fresh.

And it will probably keep opposing quarterbacks up at night.