Eagles

Roob's Random Points, Part 2: Wentz's toughness, Jahlil Okafor, John Mayer's evolution

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Roob's Random Points, Part 2: Wentz's toughness, Jahlil Okafor, John Mayer's evolution

When is it too early to start looking for concerts to attend in Minneapolis Super Bowl week? Also … Carson Wentz's toughness, Jahlil Okafor riding the bench, Japanese ceremonial tea houses, Hank Baskett, Robert Pollard side projects ... we've got it all covered in today's Part 2 of this week's Roob's 25 Random Points!

1. For all his accomplishments — the touchdown passes, the first-down runs, the big plays — Wentz also deserves a tremendous amount of credit just for his toughness. What's he missed, six snaps in his career? How many times has he gotten clobbered and popped back up to throw a big touchdown pass, like he did on the Mack Hollins touchdown Monday night? Just by the nature of the way he plays, keeping plays alive with his legs, diving for extra yards, fighting off defenders in the pocket, Wentz is going to get hit a lot. For him to stand tall snap after snap, week after week is remarkable. Just another reason Wentz is such a natural leader. Just being out there for his team every single play no matter how hard he gets hit makes him a guy everybody on the roster wants to play hard for.
 
2. Bring on the rain Sunday. Bring on anything. It won't bother this football team. I don't know if I've ever seen a more focused group. The 2004 team was incredibly talented, but that team won despite the growing feud between Donovan and T.O. and the distractions their deteriorating relationship created. This team? Mature, focused, disciplined, serious-minded, goal-oriented. No excuses. Only hard work.
 
3. I just don't get not playing Okafor. Yes, he's a defensive liability, but not everybody in the NBA is going to be Rudy Gobert. Okafor has terrific offensive skills and is a competent rebounder. You mean to tell me he can't help this team more than Amir Johnson with 8-12 minutes off the bench? Jah is 21 years old. As a 19-year-old rookie, he averaged 7.0 rebounds and 17.5 points and shot 51 percent from the field! Do you know how many rookies have averaged 17 and 7 and made over half their shots in the last 25 years? Five. Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Karl Anthony-Towns and Okafor. Nobody's saying he's in the class of those other guys, but geez, he's a 21-year-old kid with a unique skill set. Why not coach him up and help him become the player you wish he was instead of burying him on the bench?
 
4. Phil Collins. Incredibly underrated drummer.
 
5. There are more fifth-round picks on the Eagles' roster (11) than first-round picks (10). I'm not sure what that means, but hey, it's working!
 
6. It's also remarkable to me how different this roster is from last year. There are 22 players on the 53 who weren't here last year. That's 42 percent! That's an incredible turnover. For a team to be able to incorporate 22 new players and play at the level the Eagles are playing at is a credit to Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas for bringing in the right guys but also to Doug Pederson and his staff for making it all work.
 
7. Jalen Mills is one of only three players in the NFL with two or more fourth-quarter interceptions. He's been really good this year.
 
8. I can't think of a single musical artist who I've changed my opinion about more dramatically over time than John Mayer. The dude has transformed himself from an irrelevant treacly pop singer-songwriter to an absolutely brilliant interpreter of Grateful Dead material and a worthy successor to Jerry Garcia in the Dead collective.
 
9. My Top 5 Robert Pollard non-GBV albums: 1. From a Compound Eye (Robert Pollard), 2. Blues and Boogie Shoes (Keene Brothers), 3. Choreographed Man of War (Robert Pollard and his Soft Rock Renegades), 4. Ask Them (Lexo and the Leapers), 5. Not in my Airforce (Robert Pollard).
 
10. No player in NFL history has more career TD catches of 85 yards or more than Hank Baskett. This blows my mind. 
 
11. Minneapolis concerts already scheduled Super Bowl week: First Aid Kit, Josh Ritter, Marilyn Manson. Hmmm. Beat the 49ers, Broncos and Cowboys, and I start buying tickets!
 
12. There's a really cool exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum of Japanese ceremonial tea houses. One entire teahouse is recreated in its entirety, and the backstory is amazing. The museum sent someone to Japan in the 1920s to buy a teahouse and the museum's teahouse expert found one for sale on a property owned by noted Japanese architect Ögi Rodö. The teahouse was dismantled and shipped to Philadelphia, but the museum couldn't find anybody to put it back together. So it sat in storage for more than 30 years before it was finally restored and put on display. Now you know!
 
12½. Prediction: Wendell Smallwood's first career 100-yard rushing game comes against the 49ers on Sunday.

5 Minutes with Roob: Josh Andrews still waiting on his chance 4 years later

5 Minutes with Roob: Josh Andrews still waiting on his chance 4 years later

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles guard/center Josh Andrews:

Roob: Let's clear the air first. You're definitely not related to Shawn Andrews?

Josh Andrews: No, I'm not. No relation to Shawn Andrews at all.

Roob: So that's one positive. Do you get that a lot?

Andrews: I've got it a few times now, but no relation.

Roob: Alright well that's good to know. Now, you've got a really interesting story. You've been here four years now. Talk about when you came here in '14, were there a lot of teams trying to sign you out of Oregon State? How did that whole thing go?

Andrews: Went undrafted, about three teams tried to grab me, but felt like the best fit was for the Eagles and I've been here ever since.

Roob: It's really crazy because obviously, they like you. Obviously, Chip (Kelly) liked you. Obviously, Doug (Pederson) likes you. But you haven't had a chance to play. How do you balance being here, preparing like you're gonna play every week and not having gotten that chance yet?

Andrews: Just gotta have that mindset to get ready every week. That's how I've been since I've been here. My time is coming, I just gotta wait and do what's best for this team right now and keep us winning.

Roob: Now there was a really interesting thing on Tuesday, Jim Schwartz, without prompting, I don't know if you heard about this, he mentioned you as far as talking about how guys on the offense help the defense prepare. And he mentioned that you'll go to him and say, 'Hey we're figuring this out in running scout team.' Because you run scout team center or guard, I guess mainly center I would think. That's kind of unusual for a defensive coordinator to mention a scout team offensive lineman. What do you bring to him? What do you see from the first defense that can maybe help?

Andrews: Just blocking schemes you know, the way that they're ran. Say if (Fletcher Cox) needs help with something I'll be like 'I think this is the best way to go.' And it's been working. They've been getting home a lot this season and it's really been paying off for our defense.

Roob: How hard is it to not play?

Andrews: Man, it's tough. It's really tough. But just gotta keep going. I love playing this sport and I will continue as long as I can. 

Roob: I remember there was one game, I think it was 2015, where somebody got hurt and you ran on the field and then they didn't leave the game. 

Andrews: Oh yeah, that was against the Cowboys in 2015. Lane (Johnson) got hurt, pretty sure it was Lane. And I was about to go in and then he came back on the field. I was like, 'Ah man, that was my shot.' But, I gotta keep positive. Gotta keep that positive mindset. That's how I've been ever since I've been here.

Roob: Now you've actually been here longer than most of the team. (Jason) Kelce's a guy who's been here your whole time. What have you learned from being around him, watching him play, watching him practice?

Andrews: He's such a smart guy man. On the field, the way he just commands attention, the way he commands the offensive line is just impressive to see. I try to mimic that every time I step on the field. I've learned so much from him over these past four years and he's just a great player to learn from and be under. 

Roob: Now preseason games I guess are like your Super Bowl now, right? Cause that's your chance to play. What do those games mean to you? You're not playing a lot. A few of them you're playing a lot. But what does it mean to get out there and have a chance to play?

Andrews: It's gold man. That's everything for me right now. When I get a chance to get on that field, I give it all I got. I've done that ever since I've been here. That's just, like you said, my Super Bowl. Every time I go on that field I give it all I got. 

Roob: What's (offensive line) coach (Jeff) Stoutland meant to you? You've been around him a while now. 

Andrews: Great mentor. Great teacher. He's just been wonderful. He's really hard on us and it's for a good reason, to get us better and get us playing at a high level. That's the way he commands the player and I like that. 

Roob: What's special about this team now? You've been on some good teams and some bad teams since you've been here but you guys are rolling, 8-1, seven-game winning streak going into Dallas Sunday night. What do you like about the kind of vibe in this locker room?

Andrews: The vibe is awesome. Everyone's on the same page. Everyone's with each other. It's been really different from the past three teams I've been on. I feel like we're gonna go far with the team we got right now. 

Roob: Alright last question. Chip Kelly, do you think he's going to take the Florida job?

Andrews: Sheesh, I don't know. We'll see. That's a good question.

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

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Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

Forget for a moment all the record-setting touchdown passes, all the dazzling third-down conversions and the highlight-reel red-zone heroics.

One of Carson Wentz's greatest accomplishments these last two years has just been playing football every Sunday. Being out there for his team without fail every week.

That alone puts him in an elite group.

Look around the league. Tyrod Taylor just got benched in Buffalo with the Bills in the playoff hunt. Trevor Siemian was benched just before the Broncos came to Philly. The 49ers benched Brian Hoyer a few weeks before facing the Eagles

Last we checked, the Browns have already benched DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan this fall.

Heck, even one-time Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco was benched by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during a loss to the Jaguars.

We've been through all of that. That quarterback carousel. It never leads anywhere.

Wentz on Sunday night will start his 26th consecutive game. Every game the Eagles have played since opening day last year. He's one of only 12 quarterbacks who's started all his team's games over the last two years.

Elite quarterback play is huge for any football team, but quarterback stability is just as important. And Wentz is finally giving this franchise something it's lacked for much of the last quarter century.

Think about it.

From 1991 through 2015, a 25-year span, the only years an Eagles quarterback started 16 games were Donovan McNabb in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008. And McNabb got benched in 2008.

From 2010 through 2015, the six years between McNabb and Wentz, the Eagles used seven different quarterbacks. Not only did the Eagles not win anything during that span, there didn't seem to be much of a future either. 

The Eagles were stuck trying to build a championship team without an elite quarterback. Which is almost impossible to do.

All of which led Howie Roseman to make the franchise-altering decision that the Eagles had to do anything possible, no matter how drastic, no matter how extreme, to get that guy and turn the franchise over to him.

That realization, that organizational decision and the series of trades that landed Wentz in Philadelphia guaranteed that the Eagles would have quarterback stability and a chance for sustained success for the foreseeable future.

Just by starting 25 games in a row, Wentz has done something no Eagles QB had done since McNabb started 31 straight from opening day 2003 through Week 15 of 2004. With the No. 1 seed locked up, he didn't play the last week of the season.

McNabb started 51 straight games from midway through 1999, when he replaced Doug Pederson, through Week 10 of 2002, when he broke his ankle against the Cards (but threw four touchdowns anyway).

And along with those two McNabb streaks and streaks by Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham, Wentz's run of 25 starts is already the Eagles' fifth-longest since Norm Van Brocklin started 36 straight from 1958 through 1960.

You've probably already picked up on the fact that the Eagles' greatest periods of success in the NFL's modern era — the 1960 championship and the 1980 and 2004 Super Bowl appearances — just happen to coincide with periods of tremendous quarterback stability.

And maybe very soon we can add another era to that list.

Just by being out there every Sunday, Wentz has separated himself from most quarterbacks in the NFL.

Of the 12 QBs who've started every game since opening day last year, only six have a career winning record. And of those six, only Wentz and Dak Prescott — both 24 — are under 28.

They'll meet for the third time Sunday night in Dallas, and whatever happens, both franchises are in good hands for the foreseeable future.

For the Eagles, these are heady days. Wentz is having an MVP season and Roseman and Joe Douglas have surrounded him with a deep and talented roster.

An entire generation of quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer — will be retiring in the next few years. And most of the young QBs lining up to replace them are unproven. Even guys like Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will be in their mid-30s in five years.

How many NFL teams know who their quarterback will be in, let's say, 2023? The Texans with Deshaun Watson, the Rams with Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota in Tennessee and probably Jameis Winston in Tampa. And the Eagles and Cowboys. Anybody else?

Most NFL teams are in a constant search for that elite quarterback. Not around here. Not anymore.

The most important question facing almost every NFL team is one the Eagles won't have to even think about for a decade.