Roob's 10 week-after Super Bowl observations

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Roob's 10 week-after Super Bowl observations

You thought the offseason meant the end of 10 Observations? No way! We'll keep it going as long as there are random observations to be made! 

In this edition, we check in on LeGarrette Blount, Joe Douglas, Zach Ertz, the Eagles' coaching staff and much more! 

1. LeGarrette Blount’s performance Sunday has kind of gone under the radar, but he had a brilliant Super Bowl, with 90 rushing yards on 14 carries, including a 36-yard run and a 21-yard touchdown. Blount averaged 6.4 yards per carry, highest in Super Bowl history by a back in his 30s (breaking the mark of 5.7 by the Bills’ Kenneth Davis in 1992). Blount is only the eighth back in history with two 20-yard runs in a Super Bowl and the third in the last 30 years. His 21-yard TD is seventh-longest in Super Bowl history and third-longest in the last 27 years. Blount had a rushing touchdown in all three postseason games and now has 11 career postseason rushing TDs, sixth-most in NFL history (behind five Hall of Famers). He’s the first player in Eagles history with a rushing TD in three straight playoff games. Blount’s 6.4 yards per carry average was also sixth-highest in Eagles history in any playoff game. I don’t know what Blount’s future is, but he was a beast this year. 

2. And I probably also haven’t written enough about how dominating the Eagles’ offensive line was in the Super Bowl and, really, the entire postseason. They just demolished people. Did Nick Foles even get touched last Sunday? Everything the Eagles wanted to do offensively, they were able to do. Run the ball. Throw deep. Move the chains. Convert on 3rd and 4th down. Foles dropped back 43 times and wasn’t sacked. That’s the third-most pass attempts in Super Bowl history without a sack. He dropped back 108 times in the postseason and was sacked twice — that’s the fourth-most pass attempts in postseason history without being sacked more than twice. The Eagles averaged 442 yards of offense in the playoffs, sixth-highest in NFL history. They’re the first team ever to average 300 passing yards and 120 rushing yards in a postseason. What the Eagles did on offense this postseason is nothing short of historic, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson as a group were one of the biggest reasons why.

3. There were 28 running backs drafted this year, but none of them was Corey Clement. There were 17 running backs drafted in 2010, but none of them was LeGarrette Blount. There were 12 running backs drafted in the first 148 picks in 2015, but none of them was Jay Ajayi. Those two undrafted running backs and a fifth-round pick combined for 255 yards of offense in the Super Bowl. Keep that in mind next time somebody tells you a kid won’t be a good NFL player because he had a bad combine or some nonsense.

4. I know he misses too many PATs but, man, those were a couple clutch field goals Jake Elliott made Sunday, especially the 46-yarder to make it an eight-point game with 1:05 left. Did you know Elliott — a rookie who began the year on the Bengals’ practice squad — became the first kicker in Super Bowl history to make two 40-yarders in a fourth quarter? And that he’s now responsible for two of the four-longest 40-yarders ever made in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl? In fact, Elliott is only the third kicker to make two 40-yarders in any Super Bowl (along with Jim Breech of the Bengals in 1988 and Garrett Hartley of the Saints in 2009). He may not be the most accurate kicker ever, but his mental toughness is off the charts. 

5. This time last year, the Eagles’ running backs were Wendell Smallwood, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner, and their receivers were Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, Bryce Treggs and Nelson Agholor.

6. It happened much later in his coaching career than Year 2, but a big part of Andy Reid’s downfall here was his inability to replace good assistant coaches as they left. That’s the challenge facing Doug Pederson right now. With John DeFilippo now running the Vikings’ offense and Frank Reich hired as the head coach of the Colts, I hope Duce Staley finally gets his chance at offensive coordinator — he’s been an assistant under Andy, Chip and Doug — and I would look for wide receivers coach Mike Groh to move over to quarterbacks, with Press Taylor moving up to wide receivers coach. Pederson has always been big on promoting from within, since it really helps develop a healthy culture. He may go outside on this one, but promoting Duce, Groh and Taylor makes sense.

7. People laughed at me when I said before the season that Zach Ertz was a top-five tight end in the NFL. Now I think he might be No. 2 behind Gronk, although it’s very close between Ertz and Travis Kelce. Including the postseason, Ertz had 92 catches, 1,016 yards and nine TDs this year. When the Eagles needed him most, on a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl, he was unstoppable. 

8. I wanted to try to put that Foles-to-Ertz fourth-down conversion on the game-winning drive into perspective, so I turned to the Pro Football Reference Super Bowl play finder and learned that there have been 54 fourth-down conversion attempts in Super Bowl history, but only 13 have been successful. Of those 13, six came with the game long decided. Of the remaining seven, only one was converted by a team that was trailing inside the 50. That was Brandon Jacobs’ two-yard run on a 4th-and-1 with 1:34 left and the Giants on their own 37-yard-line in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. Seven plays later, Eli Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, and the Giants beat the Patriots 17-14. The "Philly Special" may be the greatest play in Super Bowl history, but this one — coming with the Eagles losing, inside midfield, with less than six minutes left — was the biggest play of the season. And Foles and Ertz were flat-out money.  

9. A quick Joe Douglas story: During last year's five-game losing streak, I ran into Joe on the field before a game and said something profound like, “Hey, Joe, wassup?” His answer: "The bleepity-bleep losing. I'm sick of the bleepity-bleep losing. I hate bleeping losing. BLEEP losing. I PROMISE we're going to get this turned around." I believed him.

10. I really hope the Eagles play in the Hall of Fame Game this summer, and with Dawk and T.O. both going in, I assume they will. It will make an already short offseason a week shorter, but Eagles fans deserve a Canton, Ohio, takeover weekend. It would also mean only … 174 days until the preseason opener!

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

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Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

The Eagles have found their replacement for Torrey Smith. 

Heck, they found an upgrade. 

On Thursday, the Birds agreed to terms with veteran speedy receiver Mike Wallace on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

This signing makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, especially if they weren’t ready to hand Mack Hollins the starting spot Smith left. Hollins can now split time with Wallace. Even if the Eagles didn’t trade Smith, they weren’t going to keep him at his price tag, so adding Wallace gives the Eagles a veteran with speed at a cheaper cost. 

Wallace, 31, is coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 748 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. For comparison, in 2017, Smith caught 36 passes for 430 yards (11.9) and two touchdowns. And Smith dropped seven passes, while Wallace dropped just three, according to ProFootballFocus. In fact, Wallace's numbers weren't far off from Alshon Jeffery's stats last year (57 receptions, 789 yards, 9 touchdowns). 

While Wallace isn’t coming off his best season in 2017, he went over 1,000 yards in 2016 and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception during his nine-year NFL career. The Eagles hope he'll be the deep threat they thought they were getting in Smith. 

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Wallace is second in the league in 40-yard receptions and in 50-yard receptions. He has 43 receptions of 40-plus yards (behind DeSean Jackson's 56) and 26 receptions of 50-plus yards (behind Jackson's 36). 

If that's not recent enough for you, the Eagles had seven pass plays of 50-plus yards in 2017; Wallace had three on his own. He can still stretch the field. 

The Eagles can now start Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, which will allow them to keep Nelson Agholor in the slot, where he was great last season. Then they’ll still have Hollins and Shelton Gibson (both draft picks from 2017) off the bench. Not bad. 

Wallace will turn 32 before the season starts, so the Eagles have added another veteran player, something they’ve done plenty this season. They already added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. It’s pretty clear the Eagles see the need to maximize their window of opportunity and getting players to join them is probably easier coming off a Super Bowl win. 

Signing veterans on one-year deals certainly worked well for the Eagles last season and if this one works out too, they will have found a good fit for the 2018 season.  

Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

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Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

The Eagles pulled off trades and signed a few free agents after the new league year began on March 14 ... and it's shortened their Super Bowl odds. 

The Eagles' odds to win Super Bowl LIII improved from 9/1 to 17/2 between Feb. 5 and March 22, according to Bovada. Despite beating them in Super Bowl LII less than two months ago, the Eagles still trail the Patriots, who stood pat at 5/1. 

Here's the full top 10: 

1. Patriots: 5/1
2. Eagles: 17/2
3. Vikings: 9/1
4. Steelers: 12/1
5. Packers: 14/1
5. Rams: 14/1
7. Saints: 18/1
8. Falcons: 20/1
9. Texans: 22/1
9. Jaguars: 22/1
9. Raiders: 22/1

As for the rest of the teams in the NFC East, the next closest to the Eagles are the Cowboys, but their inactivity this offseason gave them longer odds, going from 18/1 to 28/1. The Giants' odds stayed at 50/1, while the Redskins' odds went from 50/1 to 66/1. 

And here's a fun prop bet: The over/under for Michael Bennett sacks in 2018 is set at 8. Last season, he had 8½ with the Seahawks. Now, he's playing on a dynamic defensive line but also figures to play less because of the Eagles' rotation.