Roob’s 10 observations: Agholor, underrated Super Bowler, Shady’s career

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Roob’s 10 observations: Agholor, underrated Super Bowler, Shady’s career

More improvement from Nelson Agholor, an underrated Super Bowl performer, two agonizing yards from a milestone and an incredible accomplishment that LeSean McCoy is closing in on.

It’s all right here in this week’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations!

1. Doug Pederson has found the perfect balance these past few months of allowing his players to really enjoy being Super Bowl champions while still keeping an eye on 2018, and that’s not an easy thing to do. The Eagles have celebrated when it’s time to celebrate and they’ve worked when it’s time to work, and honestly, I feel like most of the guys on this team would rather be at an OTA practice under the hot June sun than at some banquet re-living Super Bowl LII. Which is the beauty of this team. Zach Ertz put it beautifully when he said this: “There’s always going to be one-hit wonders in this league. Teams that won one Super Bowl or players that made one Pro Bowl and then you didn’t hear from them again. But it’s the great players and the great teams that are able to have that sustained success.” And that right there is the mantra for this football team. Last year was incredible. But it’s in the past. It’s time to move on. It’s time to go to work.

2. Five quarterbacks in NFL history have had a passer rating of 101.9 or higher in their second NFL season [minimum of 200 attempts]. Three of them are Hall of Famers – Otto Graham, Kurt Warner and Dan Marino. The other two are … Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

3. This is insanity, but there’s no doubt in my mind T.O. can still help a football team. I know, I know. He’s 44. The oldest player in NFL history to catch a pass is Jerry Rice, Owens’ former teammate, who was 42 years, 67 days, when he caught his last three career passes – 3 for 25 yards from Matt Hasselbeck for the Seahawks against the Jets on Dec. 19, 2004. The only other player to catch a pass in his 40s is Brett Favre, who caught a batted pass that he threw (for minus-two yards) against the Rams at 40 years, 1 day, for the Vikings in 2009. I know T.O. hasn’t played since 2010, when he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine TDs playing for the Bengals. But T.O. is different than other human beings. He’s a freak of nature. He could play till he’s 50. But considering his history, no team is ever going to take a chance on him. It’s a shame, but that’s the reality.

4. It still blows my mind that the Eagles won the Super Bowl just two years after Chip Kelly was fired. Think about that. Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Pederson overhauled the entire franchise from late 2015 train wreck to 2017 NFL champs in 769 days. 

5. During that span, the Browns have won one game.

6. Kind of lost in all the Super Bowl insanity – Philly Special, Nick Foles’ performance, Brandon Graham’s strip-sack, the 4th-down conversion to Zach Ertz – was LeGarrette Blount’s remarkable performance. Blount’s 6.4 rushing average that day (14 for 90) is highest in NFL postseason history by a back 31 or older. The previous record was Tiki Barber’s 5.3 for the Giants in the 2006 wild-card game that the Eagles won at the Linc. Blount destroyed that record. And it came after a stretch in which Blount had averaged just 3.7 yards per carry in his previous eight games. Blount wasn’t here long but what a tremendous impact he made both as an unfailingly unselfish leader and as a battering-ram running back.

7. Hard to believe DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the only Eagles draft picks with a 1,000-yard receiving season since Fred Barnett, who was drafted 28 years ago. I expect Nelson Agholor to do it this season.

8. I’m still sad Brent Celek is sitting there with 4,998 career receiving yards. 

9. Wondering what the heck the Redskins are thinking is a way of life around the NFL, but it still blows my mind that they believe they have a better chance of winning with a 34-year-old Alex Smith and than with a 29-year-old Kirk Cousins. 

10. LeSean McCoy has averaged 101 yards from scrimmage per game in his brilliant nine-year NFL career, and he now has 13,470 net yards from scrimmage – eighth-most in NFL history by a player before his 30th birthday (behind seven Hall of Famers). Every back in NFL history who’s gained 16,000 yards from scrimmage — and there are 10 of them — is in the Hall of Fame. At his current pace, Shady would get to 16,000 in Week 9 of the 2020 season. I’m sure as heck not betting against him. 

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Watching Carson Wentz attack his rehab is nothing short of incredible

Watching Carson Wentz attack his rehab is nothing short of incredible

Carson Wentz has done some of his best work behind closed doors, far from any TV cameras or adoring fans, with just a trainer or two and maybe a few teammates in the room.

While Nick Foles has enjoyed the banquet circuit these last few months and all that comes with being Super Bowl MVP — national TV appearances, a book deal, life as a celebrity — the guy he replaced has had a pretty good offseason himself.

It’s just that nobody has seen it.

For Wentz to do what he did at these spring minicamps — compete in a variety of individual and team drills and look comfortable, fluid and confident six months after hobbling off the field at LA Coliseum with a towel covering his head — speaks volumes about this kid.

We know he’s a competitor on the field. We’ve all seen it. But rehabbing a shredded knee is different.

Throw a touchdown pass, and you instantaneously hear 66,000 fans roaring their approval.

Extend your range of motion by one degree and you get a trainer telling you, “Good. Now do it again 50 times.”

We can talk all day and night about how Wentz has attacked his rehab, but now we’re seeing the fruits of his labor. And it’s impressive.

It takes a certain type of motivation and determination to keep grinding away when nobody is cheering you on and the moments of true progress are fleeting and measured in millimeters.

We saw Wentz out there at practice taking five-step drops, firing dimes to Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor in 7-on-7s and sprinting the length of the field under the midday sun.

What we never saw is what it took to get there.

It’s been about six months since Wentz tore his ACL and LCL.

That means probably about 150 days where Wentz has driven from his home in South Jersey to the NovaCare Complex at dawn and pushed himself through hour after hour of drills to regain his strength, his mobility, his speed, his endurance, his agility.

And then he’s back the next day to do it all over again.

We’re so used to athletes getting hurt and rehabbing it’s easy to forget just how grueling it is, and the fact that Wentz has made the progress he has since Dec. 10 is astonishing.

He’s taken that same ferocious competitive spirit we saw the first 29 games of his career and used it to fuel his rehab.

A month ago, there was no reason to think he’d be cleared to do anything at OTAs and there he was running, throwing, competing and looking every bit like the Carson Wentz we watched evolve into a legit MVP candidate the first 14 weeks of last season.

And if that doesn’t mean he’s ahead of schedule, I don’t know what does.

At this point, I’d be shocked if Wentz isn’t the Eagles’ opening day quarterback in 2018.

There’s always the possibility of a setback. Maybe he doesn’t get completely cleared quite in time to face the Falcons on Sept. 6. But the progress he’s made already has to make every Eagles fan feel confident and encouraged.  

Since he got hurt, Wentz has put the same remarkable level of energy and effort into rehabbing that he put into preparing to play football every Sunday.

Think about Wentz’s 2017 season.

Everything was going perfectly. The Eagles were on top of the football world. He was putting up numbers that were unprecedented for anybody other than Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Before Foles was on anybody’s mind, the Eagles were a Super Bowl contender.

And then disaster.

We’ve all seen Wentz when things are going well. He blossomed into a superstar in front of our eyes.

But you really learn the most about a person when things aren’t going well. When they face adversity. What are they really about? How will they respond?

Wentz has definitively answered those questions.

We didn’t see Wentz in those long, lonely, arduous rehab sessions, but we can see the results.

While Foles was out winning the Super Bowl and taking all the bows, Wentz was doing everything humanly possible to make sure he’s ready to lead the Eagles to another Super Bowl title this year.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m not betting against him.

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White House drama could have destroyed other teams … but not these Eagles

White House drama could have destroyed other teams … but not these Eagles

Four months after the Super Bowl, the Eagles continue to show us how special they are.

This team showed us all year that their greatest strength wasn’t running back depth or wide receiver balance or red-zone offense. It was unity. It was togetherness. It was that unique bond that gave them the ability to navigate through whatever challenge got in their way.

And whether that was losses to the Chiefs and Seahawks, or Carson Wentz’s injury, and all the other injuries, or trailing at halftime in the playoff game against the Falcons, or trailing in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, the Eagles faced those challenges together and sailed through them stronger for the experience.

That’s why this was all so special. This wasn’t just a football team winning games. This was a unique bunch of young men thrown together under a coach who had been booed out of town two decades earlier working together to accomplish something they kept being told was impossible. And they did it together every step of the way.

This is bigger than football. The Eagles taught us some pretty basic but important life lessons about working together, overcoming adversity, the sum being greater than the parts, and never giving up no matter how stacked the odds. Winning football games was awesome, but the fashion they did it in made this maybe the most beloved sports team in our city’s history.

And what we’ve seen since the season ended has only reinforced what the season brought us.

This whole White House drama — “Will they be invited?” “Will they go?” “Who’s not going to go?” “Were they really just disinvited?” — is enough to tear apart a team. To destroy a team. 

We’re talking about 70 players from different religious, economic and political backgrounds. From different parts of the country … and other countries. All types of different racial backgrounds. All with different perspectives of a very complex and very difficult issue.

And still we see the Eagles speaking with one voice. 

You know there are guys on this team who disagree with their teammates about Trump, about the White House visit, about the cancellation. But not one player  — or former player — has made it personal. Not one player or former player has taken a shot at a teammate. Not one has made this about themselves.

Just like they did during the season, this remarkable football team with a Lombardi Trophy but without a 1,000-yard rusher or receiver has continued to place team unity above all else.

There are a lot of reasons teams don’t repeat. Nobody since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004, nobody in the NFC since the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. Most of those reasons are football related, but there’s more to it than that. Super Bowl championships tend to get players thinking, “What can I get out of this?” Or “What’s in it for me?” Or “How can I parlay this into something else?” That can fracture a team because now you have 53 guys thinking about themselves instead of doing what got them there, which was putting the team first.

The beauty of the 2017 Eagles – and quite possibly the 2018 Eagles – is that there hasn’t been one sign of that. Some players have left for more money, but that really had more to do with the Eagles’ cap situation than any individuals desperate to leave.

Whether it was the Eagles Autism Challenge or Carson Wentz’s charity softball game or the events surrounding the planned White House visit, this team has stood as one. It always was about the team and it always will be.

They know they built something unique and special, and they’re not going to let outside distractions – no matter how huge – tear it down. This team grew stronger and stronger throughout the season, and it seems like it’s continuing to grow during the offseason. 

Even now, four months after the Super Bowl, the Eagles continue to show us what being a champion really means.

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