Eagles

Roob's 25 Random Points: Jordan Matthews' dislike, Brent Celek, Jason Isbell

ap-jordan-matthews-brent-celek-jason-isbell-roobs-25-points.jpg
AP Images

Roob's 25 Random Points: Jordan Matthews' dislike, Brent Celek, Jason Isbell

Welcome to yet another edition of Roob's 25 Random Points. Dive in!

1. Unlike his predecessor, Doug Pederson is very sensitive to the needs of his older players, making sure to give them time off from practice during training camp when they need it. Whether it's Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Long or some other veteran, we've seen guys throughout camp get a personal day here and there to help them get through the grind of camp. Then there's Jason Peters and Darren Sproles, the two oldest position players on the roster. Peters is a future Hall of Famer, and Sproles is a two-time Pro Bowler. One of the biggest Eagles and one of the smallest. Peters is 35, Sproles is 34. Total combined days Peters and Sproles have missed through the first two weeks of camp? Zero. When I think about leadership, I don't think about rah-rah speeches and all that. I think about the two oldest guys on the team going out there every day — Peters is in his 14th training camp, Sproles is in his 13th — and going full-bore on these steamy hot days and 2½-hour practices without wanting or taking a day off. When the young guys — and even the older guys — see these two legends out there every day without a break, that's inspirational. That's leadership.  
 
2. I didn’t understand the Greg Lewis hiring when it happened and I still don't understand it. The Eagles didn't have very good receivers last year, but I don't think to have a novice NFL position coach for an unproven group made any sense. Now Lewis is gone — he's wide receivers coach for Andy Reid these days in Kansas City, believe it or not — and Mike Groh appears to be a huge upgrade. I was kind of surprised Pederson admitted as much the other day when he was asked if the improvement we've all seen in the Eagles' wide receivers can be attributed to the coaching change. "Yeah, I would say so," he responded. Obviously, they have more talent at wideout now, but they also seem to have somebody coaching these guys who can get the most out of them.
 
3. We've talked all summer about Smith and Jeffery, but I've been really impressed with the depth the Eagles have at wideout. Last year, you would probably rank the Eagles' receivers like this: 1) Jordan Matthews, 2) Dorial Green-Beckham, 3) Nelson Agholor, 4) Paul Turner, 5) Bryce Treggs, 6) Josh Huff. This year, it's probably something like 1) Jeffery, 2) Matthews, 3) Agholor, 4) Smith, 5) Mack Hollins, 6) Marcus Johnson, 7) Greg Ward, 8) Treggs, 9) David Watford, 10) Turner, 11) Shelton Gibson. Guys who played last year — DGB, Treggs, Turner and, of course, Huff — aren't even going to make the team this year. Those four combined for 1,056 offensive snaps last year! Close to 70 per game! None of them will even be on the team this year.
 
4. And as Eliot Shorr-Parks points out, there's actually a good chance none of them will even be in the league this year.
 
5. I feel like we're living in Backwards World sometimes. All of a sudden, everybody loves Agholor, whose career has been a colossal disappointment so far, and everybody can't wait to get rid of Matthews, who has done nothing other than delivering consistently solid production over the last three years. Maybe Agholor will build off his impressive training camp and have a fantastic season. He really does look terrific. But so far it's just a projection. It's just practice. Nobody knows what he's going to do on Sunday afternoons. Matthews, on the other hand, you can pretty much put down for 75 catches, 900 yards and six touchdowns — his NFL averages — every year. He's not a superstar, but that's OK. He's pretty good. Only six other guys — Randy Moss, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald — have had 225 catches, 2,500 yards and 19 TDs in their first three seasons. Maybe 900 yards doesn't seem like very much … until you're trying to replace them. Here's the thing: You're allowed to root for Agholor and Matthews. They're both Eagles. They'll both be Eagles this year. I would think real Eagles fans aren't playing this ridiculous game of Agholor vs. Matthews.
 
6. It's often faster to reach the sports complex area by taking I-95 to the Betsy Ross Bridge then zipping down Rte. 130 to the Walt Whitman Bridge and heading back across the river. It's just that you have to pay $5 for the convenience. There should be a rule that if you're in New Jersey for less than 30 minutes you don't have to pay the bridge toll. Kind of like when you're in a parking garage for under 10 minutes you don't have to pay?
 
7. If you take Zach Ertz's production over the last 11 games of last year, once he began recovering from that displaced rib cartilage injury and project it over a full season you get 100 catches for 1,048 yards. So that's my Ertz prediction for 2017.
 
8. Jason Witten's first four seasons: 252 catches, 2,538 yards, 14 TDs. Zach Ertz's first four seasons: 247 catches, 2,840 yards, 13 TDs. Just sayin'.
 
9. Always cracks me up when a waiter asks me, "Have you dined with us before?" Who freaking cares if I dined there before? Why does it matter? No, I haven't "dined" here before, but I am aware how the general concept of restaurants work.
 
10. Back to Matthews for a minute. It's been fascinating watching the Jordan Matthews backlash this summer. All of a sudden fans can't stand him, want him gone, traded, unloaded, not re-signed, etc. Not sure how we got to this point. What's his crime? A sore knee that he's practiced through all of training camp without missing a single rep? Not being DeSean Jackson? Six drops targets last year? He's not a superstar, but every team has about 50 guys who aren't superstars. He's a second-round pick who's been a consistent, steady, durable, productive receiver on a team where for at least the last two years he's been miscast as the No. 1 guy. Only nine wide receivers in history have more catches three years into their NFL career. Matthews has 85 more catches after three seasons than Mike Quick. He has 993 more yards after three seasons than Harold Carmichael. He even has three more TD catches after three seasons than DeSean Jackson. Did he drop a few more passes than he should have last year? Yeah. But he did rank 75th in the NFL with six drops in 117 targets. And a year earlier, he had one drop. This is a locker room leader, a solid citizen, a hard worker, a quality guy. He's exactly the kind of guy Philly usually embraces. Eagles fans were furious when Chip Kelly let Jeremy Maclin leave for the Chiefs. Maclin has averaged 59 catches, 799 yards and 5.8 touchdowns per year since entering the NFL. Matthews has averaged 75 catches, 891 yards and 6.3 TDs per year since entering the NFL. I don't get it. Every successful team has guys like Matthews, complementary pieces, guys who quietly and professionally do their job every day, guys with no ego, guys who go about their business without complaining, guys who unfailingly put team goals ahead of individual goals. If Matthews were on the Jaguars or Chargers, Eagles fans would be dying for a guy like him. But since he's already here, somehow his production is devalued. Classic grass-is-always-greener effect. Jordan Matthews is the least of the Eagles' problems.
 
11. There's a Philly band — and I swear I'm not making this up — called Lito and the Shepperds, and they played Kung Fu Necktie Saturday night. I listened to their stuff on their Bandcamp page … they're not bad! Kind of heavy bluesy rock. Made me wonder what other former Eagles would make good band names. Roderick and the Hoods? Woody and the Peoples? Jeremy and the Blooms? Ryan and the Moats? Casey and the Well-Dones?
 
12. Hey, do you guys think Brent Celek will ever be added to the Eagles Hall of Fame? I've been thinking a lot about this since chatting with him the other day about his career and his future. Celek will go down as one of the top five pass catchers at any position in Eagles history and if he stays healthy this year — and he's missed only one game since the start of high school — he'll be top five in franchise history in games played. There's a good chance he'll finish his career having played the second-most games in franchise history among those who've spent their whole career here. You can argue that he's the greatest tight end in Eagles history. But … he's never made a Pro Bowl, he's never had a 1,000-yard season — although he came within 29 yards once — and he's played on only one team in 10 seasons that's won a playoff game. But he's really been a solid Eagle for a long time, and I think his omnipresent team-first attitude, his gritty, physical style of play and his longevity push him over the top. Interesting call.
 
13. Speaking of tight ends … Trey Burton caught 23 passes the last six games of last season (he had 17 in his previous 40 NFL games). He actually had the seventh-most catches of any NFL tight end the last six weeks of last year (Zach Ertz was second with 43). At that pace, Burton would catch 61 passes in a season. He won't catch 61 with all the other weapons on this team, but I wouldn't be shocked if he catches 40 to 45. We don't talk about him too much, but the kid is such a tremendous athlete and has fantastic hands.
 
14. When have the Eagles had these many weapons on offense? They legit go four deep at wide receiver, assuming Agholor contributes the way I expect him to, with two very capable receiving tight ends plus a trio of running backs who all have a different skill set. And that doesn't even include people like Mack Hollins, Donnel Pumphrey and Marcus Johnson if the Eagles keep a sixth wideout. Put one of the NFL's most promising young quarterbacks behind center with those weapons? Honestly, I don't know how this offense won't score 25 points per game.
 
15. Only four shortstops in Phillies history have more RBIs than Freddy Galvis — and two of them played before 1930. Jimmy Rollins obviously leads the pack with 887, followed by Mickey Doolin, the Phils' shortstop from 1905 through 1913 (445); Larry Bowa (421); Heinie Sand, who played here from 1923 through 1928 (251); and then Galvis with 219. Don't think he'll catch Jimmy, though. At his current pace, he'd get there in 2028.
 
16. One of my favorite moments in open practice at the Linc Sunday was rookie Shelton Gibson's tumbling catch of a deep ball from Matt McGloin with Tra Sullivan in coverage, then crawling the last few yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Gibson had such a nightmarish first couple weeks of practicing, dropping just about everything that's come his way. So to see him make that play in front of that crowd was definitely encouraging. He followed that up with another encouraging day Monday. Give the kid credit for battling.
 
17. While his teammates were out on the field practicing Sunday at the Linc, Jon Dorenbos was on the sidelines signing autographs for everybody he could find. He even did a few impromptu magic tricks for kids and fans on the sideline. The guy is remarkable. I have never seen him turn down an autograph, but he doesn't just sign for people, he engages them, talks to them, jokes with them. And he's been doing this for 12 years now, since joining the Eagles in 2006. I don't think there's an Eagles fan in the city who doesn't have a Jon Dorenbos autograph. The guy is a treasure.
 
18. Ever drive around the Navy Yard? I'm always blown away by the ship sitting there. And the sheer size of the pieces of the ship they work on in the repair shops is mind-blowing. You'll see a section of hull off some massive ship propped up so workers can work on it, and it's up there for months and months. And that's just one section. The size of these vessels is hard to fathom, but if just one section takes months to become seaworthy, how long does it take to fix up an entire ship? It's insane just how enormous these things are. If you enter the Navy Yard off 26th Street and then wind around down Kitty Hawk and back to Broad Street, you can get a great view of the work they do. And, of course, the old moth-balled Navy ships, including the legendary aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, can be seen right from Broad Street just south of the Schuylkill Expressway. Tons of history in that Navy Yard.
 
19. Hey, remember that time Nick Foles and Matt McGloin combined for seven touchdowns in an Eagles-Raiders game?
 
20. Why won't the Eagles trade Matthews for a cornerback? A few reasons. Remember when Howie Roseman said this: "You look at the cornerback position, and what we’ve done at the cornerback position is put band-aids on things.” In other words, instead of building through the draft at corner, the Eagles acquired veteran free agents such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Ellis Hobbs, Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. We all know how that went. The Eagles haven't won a playoff game since Lito and Sheldon were starting, and Howie isn't going to change his philosophy now. The Eagles have a truckload of young, largely homegrown corners, and this year is about figuring out which ones — if any — can play. If you're going to get beat, you may as well get beat with young corners who have upside instead of those tired veteran additions. Secondly, teams are simply not giving away cornerbacks. It's a lot harder finding good corners than good receivers. Nobody's got extra corners. And thirdly, Matthews is a good player. It's easy to say, "Trade Matthews," but if you do, you've got to find a way to replace 75 catches for 900 yards, and that's tougher than it sounds. He's not going anywhere.
 
21. Jason Isbell has never written a bad song.
 
22. A couple young corners who've impressed me this summer are Aaron Grymes and C.J. Smith. Grymes, who spent three years in the CFL (and won a Grey Cup in 2015 with the Edmonton Eskimos), is actually 26 and shuttled between the Eagles' practice squad and 53-man roster last year. The 24-year-old Smith, Carson Wentz's former North Dakota State teammate, might be the Eagles' most improved corner this summer. Both have good size and are smart. Just a matter of being more consistent in their technique and putting it all together. But keep an eye on No. 38 (Grymes) and No. 37 (Smith) in the preseason opener Thursday night at Lambeau. In this wide-open cornerback competition, both have shown positive signs.
 
23. Here's a list of the most receptions in NFL history after four seasons by tight ends drafted in the second round: Zach Ertz (247), Rob Gronkowski (226), Zach Miller (226), Freddie Jones (225), Dan Ross (215).
 
24. Hey Sirius XMU — You actually went nine minutes without playing Sylvan Esso. Is everything OK?????
 
25. My XPoNential Festival Top 10: 1) Spoon, 2) Wilco, 3) Conor Oberst, 4) David Bromberg, 5) Foxygen, 6) Dave Hause, 7) Hardwork Movement, 8) Strand of Oaks, 9) Cliff Hillis, 10) Angel Olsen.

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

uspresswire-cowboys-ezekiel-elliott.jpg

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

A person with direct knowledge of the situation says attorneys for Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott are set for an emergency hearing in federal court in New York as they try again to stop the running back's six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

Elliott's legal team filed a request for a temporary restraining order Monday and will get a hearing Tuesday in the Southern District of New York, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the filing hadn't been made public.

Last year's NFL rushing leader is suspended for Sunday's game at San Francisco after a federal appeals court overturned an injunction that had allowed him to play this season.

The case is shifting to New York because the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ordered the dismissal of Elliott's lawsuit in Texas. Elliott's attorneys have indicated they are still pursuing the case with the New Orleans court.

The person told the AP that U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty would hear arguments Tuesday in New York because the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla, is out of town (see full story).

Packers: Rodgers to have surgery on collarbone
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have surgery on his broken right collarbone, and that his season could be over.

McCarthy said Monday that the two-time NFL MVP would have surgery in the near future. He says that there is no timeline for his potential return.

"The key is to get Aaron healthy, it's not to develop a timeline," McCarthy said.

Rodgers got hurt in the first quarter of the 23-10 loss on Sunday at Minnesota.

Brett Hundley is now the starting quarterback. The Packers also promoted third-stringer Joe Callahan from the practice squad to become the backup quarterback.

Cornerback Quinten Rollins was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury to make room for Callahan (see full story).

Steelers: Bryant downplays reported trade demand
PITTSBURGH -- Yes, Martavis Bryant wants a trade.

To the Golden State Warriors.

Otherwise, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver insists he's just fine even after multiple reports that he asked the team to ship him elsewhere.

Asked Monday if he'd like a change of scenery, Bryant reiterated he's happy in Pittsburgh.

"I'm doing fine, everything is good," he said.

Even if -- at least statistically -- in his return from a year-plus suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy has been underwhelming.

Bryant caught two passes for 27 yards in Sunday's 19-13 victory over Kansas City and has just 17 receptions and one touchdown through six games for the first-place Steelers (4-2). His 13.6 yards per catch is more than 4 yards below his career average while splitting playing time with rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster (see full story).

Raiders: Linebacker Bowman signs 1-year deal
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- NaVorro Bowman will make a short move following his release last week from the San Francisco 49ers, signing a $3 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday.

"It's a refresher for me," Bowman said after taking part in a walkthrough with his new team. "It's a new picture, new scenery. The guys are a special group of guys. You can just see the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. I'm excited to go out there and play for an offense that is eager to score points. I look forward to it."

Bowman visited the Raiders on Monday and then signed the deal shortly after that, cancelling a planned visit to the Dallas Cowboys. He went right into meetings with the assistant coaches and could be ready to play when the Raiders (2-4) host the first-place Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Bowman said he will do extra work this week to learn the defense and said he plans to play this week if he's prepared enough. The Raiders will be happy to get him on the field to add some experience to a young group of inside linebackers (see full story).

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

usa-jay-gruden-redskins.jpg
USA Today Images

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

ASHBURN, Va. — Quinton Dunbar takes pride in the way Washington Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray makes every member of the secondary prepare as though he's starting.

"When you get in, you are expected to play like a starter," Dunbar said.

That approach has come in handy this season. Already 2015 All-Pro Josh Norman, fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland and safety Stefan McClure have gone down with injuries, and second-year safety Su'a Cravens left the team to contemplate retirement.

It's possible Breeland, who sprained his left knee Sunday against San Francisco, and Norman, who has been out with a broken rib, play Monday night.

If they can't go, Washington will lean heavily on Dunbar, Kendall Fuller and rookies Montae Nicholson, Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey against quarterback Carson Wentz and the NFC East-leading Eagles.

"It'll be a great challenge because he's playing extremely well," Gruden said.

"Our guys will have to step up. That's just the way it is. There's a lot of teams around the National Football League this time of year that are dealing with key injuries at certain positions and we just had a couple of them at the corner spot. Fabian, Dunbar, they'll have to step up and play well (along with) Holsey, Fuller."

Breeland began the 49ers game as the top cornerback with Norman out and took a block at the knee from offensive lineman Joe Staley. Gruden said Breeland escaped serious MCL damage and is a quick healer, so he could be ready to face the 5-1 Eagles.

Norman will ramp up his running and exercise this week, and Gruden said "there's a chance" he plays Monday.

The news isn't so good for rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who could miss three weeks or more with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, and kicker Dustin Hopkins, whose right hip rotator muscle strain will force the Redskins to work out free agent kickers this week.

Even with all the injuries in the secondary, Washington hasn't yet had to look for external help because it has four 2016 or 2017 draft picks on the roster and able to take on extended roles.

"We are as strong as our weakest link and we always talk about not having the drop-offs," said Fuller, a 2016 third-round pick. "Anybody who is in there, we trust to make plays."

The Redskins have had no choice but to trust their young players, including Dunbar, a 25-year-old converted receiver. Injuries to D.J. Swearinger and Nicholson on Sunday almost forced Fuller to move from cornerback to safety where he saw no snaps at practice, and Moreau had to take over on the outside when Breeland was hurt in the second half.

Moreau, a third-round pick who missed the start of training camp with a torn pectoral muscle, said players follow Swearinger's lead to be ready for any situation.

"We got dogs," Moreau said. "We all trust each other. We all feed off of him, and we know that."

Of all the young defensive backs, no one has made a bigger leap than Dunbar, who was a receiver at Florida. Gruden joked that Dunbar isn't "really smart enough to know the magnitude of the situation he's in" and just goes out and plays.

Dunbar said after what he went through growing up that football's a pleasure for him and he doesn't blink. But he has made incredible strides since shifting to cornerback.

"Mentally I'm a thousand times better," Dunbar said. "I always had the physical attributes, man. It was more mental for me -- just breaking down the offenses, learning what's coming and stuff like that."

That'll come in handy against Wentz as the 3-2 Redskins try to close the gap and keep this a competitive division race.

From the coverage to the pass rush, Washington's defense must be better against Wentz than it was in a 30-17 loss in Week 1.

"We've got to figure out a way to contain Wentz," Gruden said. "He killed us with the off-schedule plays, and he's been doing that consistently throughout the year. That's why they're 5-1. It's a big game for us. We know that."