Jake Elliott

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!

Potential Eagles Super Bowl hero going unnoticed in Minnesota

USA Today Images

Potential Eagles Super Bowl hero going unnoticed in Minnesota

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — There have likely been thousands of football fans who have walked past Jake Elliott this week without giving so much as a second look.

They're trying to find the football players.

While Elliott's Eagles teammates have been stopped by excited fans as they've been wandering around the Mall of America this week, Elliott has gone unnoticed. At 5-9, 167 pounds, Elliott looks more like the kid who works at Cinnabon than a professional football player.

"Nobody stops me," he said. "It's great."

Little do all those football fans know that Elliott could very well end up winning the Super Bowl for the Eagles in just a few days. It's just something he doesn't think about all that often.

Of course, for a kicker, there's no higher peak than possibly nailing a game-winning kick in the Super Bowl. That's the Mount Everest of kicker accomplishments. You'd probably forgive Elliott if every once in a while he caught himself daydreaming about that exact type of scenario. Hasn't happened. 

"I don't think about that a whole lot," the even-keeled rookie said. "I like to just go in the moment and go with the flow of the game. If that comes up, that comes up."

"Obviously, you kind of visualize kicks a day at a time, but you don't really think about those moments a whole lot until you get there."

During about a six-minute span on Tuesday afternoon, Elliott was asked multiple times about the pressures of kicking in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl and he answered the same way every time. He tries to approach a kick in Week 6 the same way he will in the Super Bowl. It's a boring answer, but it's probably the best one to hear if you're an Eagles fan.

Before this playoff run started, Elliott explained that the only nervousness he ever feels comes from the unknown. So he'll warm up while the offense is on the field, peeking over his shoulder to see their progress. He doesn't know if he'll get a chance to kick and where on the field that chance will come.

But once he gets on the field and starts to line up the kick, the nervousness is gone. Then, he said, he's just doing something he's done a million times before.

"I just take it one kick at a time," he said. "I don't think too much of them. I don't want to make the moment bigger than it needs to be."

This has been a pretty wild season for the 23-year-old rookie. Elliott was drafted in the fifth round out of Memphis by the Bengals in the spring, but lost a kicking competition to Randy Bullock. He joined the Cincinnati practice squad for a little over a week until Caleb Sturgis went down and the Eagles came calling.

Since taking over for the Birds, Elliott has done a pretty good job. His huge moment came in Week 3, when he nailed a 61-yard game-winning kick against the Giants.

Now, he'll get to kick in a Super Bowl.

"Hopefully I get a couple opportunities out there on Sunday," Elliott said, "and I look forward to it."

If he makes a game-winner, good luck not getting stopped in the mall next week.

If any Eagle can truly appreciate Super Bowl run, it’s punter Donnie Jones

If any Eagle can truly appreciate Super Bowl run, it’s punter Donnie Jones

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Only 15 current NFL players have been at this longer than Donnie Jones, who was a rookie in 2004 with the Seahawks back in the era of Shaun Alexander, Trent Dilfer and, yes, Jerry Rice.

And what did he have to show for his first 13 years in the NFL? More than 1,000 punts, about 27 miles of punt yardage and one lonely playoff win over Marvin Lewis and the Bengals back in 2012 with the Texans.

If anybody can really appreciate this Super Bowl run, it's the 37-year-old Jones, the 12th-oldest player in the NFL and soon to be the fourth-oldest punter in Super Bowl history.

"I've been in this league a long time and in my 14th year to have an opportunity to play for a world championship, it means everything," Jones said.

"I look back at the sacrifices I've made, different cities I've lived in, moving my wife and kids around, countless hours of preparation and practice, and finally it's all paying off. I couldn't be happier about the opportunity."

This is only the fourth time in Jones' 14 seasons he's even made the playoffs. The Seahawks lost a wild-card game to the Rams his rookie year, the Texans beat the Bengals in 2012 before losing to Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxboro, and in 2013 he was on the Eagles team that lost to the Saints at the Linc.

"The closest I've ever been to a Super Bowl was 2012," Jones said. "We were 11-1, and we only needed to win two out of our last four to get a bye and home-field (advantage), but we only won one. So we went up to New England (in the conference semifinals), and they beat us."

Jones has spent most of his career punting very well for really bad football teams.

He's by far the best punter in Eagles history, with a net average of 40.5 yards in his five seasons and a gross average of 45.4 — both easily franchise records. 

He's played in 208 consecutive games, the third-longest current streak in the NFL. His 45.4 career average is 14th-highest in NFL history.

His credentials are impeccable. And now, finally, he can do it on the greatest stage in sports.

"I spent a lot of years with some bad football teams and you just never know," he said. "You definitely wonder if you'll ever get here. 

"Jake Elliott, he's a rookie, he's going to a Super Bowl his first year. I told Jake it doesn't happen like that for a lot of guys and I'm an example of that. He's very fortunate to be a part of this group. 

"This is a very special group. Everything we've dealt with all year, the injuries we've had, injuries to key players, guys stepping in and filling those roles, it's a true team and that's what it takes to win. To have all these guys come together and play as one makes this year really special for me."

Jones and the Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

He went into this year with an 85-123 career record, so when he talks about how he doubted he'd ever get here, it's understandable.

"I think throughout the years you always have moments, especially when things aren't going well, where you just want to be done," he said.

"You just want to quit. 'I just can't do this anymore.' Whether it's hard on your family or it's the stresses of performance. There've been times where I'm like, 'Dang, I don't know if I can keep doing this.' 

"But I know my body still feels good and I still feel like I can play and I'm glad I did and now we're in this great situation that we've earned, and it makes it all worthwhile."

When he steps on the field for the first time Sunday night either to punt or hold for Elliott, Jones will become the oldest Eagle ever to play in a Super Bowl.

That honor currently belongs to guard Woody Peoples, who was 37 when the Eagles lost to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV in New Orleans after the 1980 season.

"You're in the Super Bowl playing in a world championship, but you still have to focus on what you do in every other game," Jones said.

"See the ball, catch it, place it, place the laces, swing. Everything's the same. It's the situation outside that's changed. 

"It's like that scene in Hoosiers, where he measures the basket. There's a lot on the line, sure. But it's all the same stuff you've done all your life. You can't look at it like it's any bigger than it is."