Eagles

Roob's 10 observations: Competition at Eagles training camp, insane QB stats and more

Roob's 10 observations: Competition at Eagles training camp, insane QB stats and more

Dallas Goedert, Andy Harmon, Motorhead, Nate Gerry, a crazy Nick Foles stat, a crazier Carson Wentz stat and obsessing over the "Philly Special."

It's a Wednesday edition of Roob's 10 random Eagles observations just for you! 

1. For a team coming off a Super Bowl championship, the Eagles have done a nice job creating competition in a lot of spots this summer, and training camp has certainly felt more like a competition than any sort of celebration of what happened six months ago in Minneapolis. Three guys who’ve been battling this summer I’m especially looking forward to seeing Thursday night in the preseason opener against the Steelers are Donnel Pumphrey, Gerry and Sidney Jones, who were all 2017 draft picks. Pumphrey literally looks like a different person. But can he carry it over to the games? Gerry is on track to replace Mychal Kendricks at weakside linebacker and has had a good camp, but Kamu Grugier-Hill, while not as stout at the point of attack, looks like a real playmaker. And Jones has done nothing to make me think he’s not going to be a star. Can’t wait to see those guys Thursday night.

2. One thing about Gerry — he’s really fighting history when it comes to late-round linebackers making an impact. The Eagles have had some late-round linebackers start — guys like seventh-round picks Moise Fokou and Jamar Chaney, sixth-round pick Brian Rolle and fifth-round pick Omar Gaither — but none of them were very good. Honestly, the last linebacker the Eagles drafted in the fifth round or later who has been an above average player was Seth Joyner, an eighth-round pick in 1986 and an all-time great. Gerry’s not Joyner, but he’s not Fokou either. 

3. Standing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday staring at the "Philly Special" football behind a glass case, I couldn’t stop thinking … “Doug Pederson called a trick play where an undrafted rookie running back flipped the ball to an undrafted backup tight end who threw a pass to the backup quarterback … in the end zone … in a Super Bowl … on fourth down … just before halftime … against Bill Belichick’s defense.” I still don’t know if I’ll ever grasp just how insane that really is. 

4. I’m not sure how this is possible, but no Eagles quarterback has ever thrown 25 or more touchdown passes in consecutive seasons. Among the 53 NFL QBs who have? Brian Sipe, Ken O’Brien and Aaron Brooks.

5. I try not to get too carried away by rookies at training camp, but my goodness, Goedert looks scary good. 

6. This is insane: Wentz in his last nine games last year averaged 248 passing yards, three TDs, 60 percent accuracy and 0.6 interceptions per game. The last Eagles quarterback before Wentz with two consecutive games with 248 yards, three TDs, 60 percent accuracy and one or fewer interceptions? Would you believe Randall Cunningham against the Cards and Broncos in September of 1992? Wentz averaged that over nine games.

7. There are 28 quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only six of them have had more career playoff games with a passer rating of at least 100 than Foles (Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Dan Marino and Steve Young).

8. I’ll be surprised if Corey Clement doesn’t catch 50 passes this year.

9. Here’s another weird one: Trent Cole, a fifth-round pick in 2005, is the only player the Eagles have drafted in the last 25 years with a 10-sack season as an Eagle. Before Cole, you have to go back to 1991 sixth-round pick Harmon. Matter of fact, the last player the Eagles drafted in the first four rounds to record a double-digit sack season was 1987 first-round pick Jerome Brown! That ends now. I’ve got Derek Barnett down for 13½.

10. Hey, how many people think I should choose the music at the Linc during Eagles games? Forget the vapid dance-pop they play now. This is football, not a 12-year-old's bowling party. There's nothing worse than watching the defense run on the field to that "I drove my car into a bridge" song. You really think that's going to intimidate the Redskins? We'll go Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Motorhead, Pantera, Megadeth, Metallica, Uriah Heep and Ozzy. If you agree, contact the Eagles at 1 NovaCare Way, Philadelphia, Pa., 19145.

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The 3 areas where Doug Pederson thinks he's grown most as a coach

The 3 areas where Doug Pederson thinks he's grown most as a coach

In less than five years, Doug Pederson has gone from a mostly unpopular coaching hire to being considered one of the top head coaches in the league. 

Earlier this week, NFL.com ranked Pederson as the fifth-best coach in the league. And after the last two years, that’s hard to argue. 

A big reason folks were so skeptical of the hire back in 2016 was because of Pederson’s relative inexperience. Ten years earlier, he was coaching high school ball, he had been an offensive coordinator for just three seasons and a play-caller for minimal time. But even as he enters Year 4, Pederson still isn’t a finished product. He’d be the first to admit he has more to learn. 

But before his team broke for summer, Pederson was asked about where he’s grown most as a head coach in his first three seasons on the job. 

He named three areas: 

Situational football 

“Situational football, you know, in the last three years has really been a top priority of mine. I think I've learned a lot from in-game decisions and different third-down decisions, fourth-down decisions, when to go for it on two-point conversions, things like that. And listen, I've got help in that area, but I think I've become better educated, I've studied that a little bit more, I've grown in that area, quite a bit.”

My take: If you’ve been paying attention to Pederson’s press conferences, especially during teaching times in minicamps and training camp, you’ll already know how important situational football is to him. We’re talking about third downs, fourth downs, red zone, backed up. Success in these situations is paramount to overall success and Pederson realizes it. This is where experience helps and there’s no expediting the process of acquiring it. Remember, Pederson didn’t have much time as a play-caller in K.C., so he’s been learning on the job and doing it well. 

We all know the Eagles use analytics, but some of it comes down to Pederson’s gut, too. He’s managed to find a real balance of the two over his first three years. What’s been most impressive is that in three years, Pederson managed to find his aggressive style fairly quickly. He knows the type of coach and play-caller he wants to be and backs it up with gutty calls all the time. In his first three seasons, the Eagles have gone for it on fourth down 76 times, the most in the league. The next closest team (Green Bay) has 65 attempts. The average of the other 31 teams during the three-year span is 46. 

Managing personalities

“I think just overall managing the football team with a lot of the different personalities that kind of come and go with your team and, you know, being able to handle the LeGarrette Blounts and Jay Ajayis and now DeSean Jackson back on your team and guys that are unique personality types and profiles, I mean, just being able to manage all that and listen to the team. I think I've had a pretty good handle on just listening to the guys and understanding where they are.”

My take: You’ve heard the cliche, but it’s true. The locker room really is a melting pot. This is where we get back to Jeff Lurie’s “emotional intelligence” comment during the coaching search of 2016. Pederson has emotional intelligence and his time as a player in the league has informed his knowledge about the variance of personalities in a locker room. He holds his players accountable, but he doesn’t treat them all the same; they’re not. Treating players the same is a high school/college mentality that doesn’t seem to fly when you’re coaching professional athletes who are making a ton of money and are at varying stages of their careers and lives. This is something Chip Kelly never seemed to understand. 

One of the most important things Pederson has done was when he set up his veteran council to report back to him with concerns of the whole team. Pederson immediately understood the more players are listened to, the more invested they’ll be, which can never be a bad thing. 

Building a staff

“And then I just think building a staff each year, because coaches are going to come and go, and being able to replace them with quality guys and teachers. And I think that's another area where I've gotten better in the last four years.”

My take: This is important for a team that’s having success because coaches will leave for promotions. I think it’s fair to question some of these decisions — promoting Mike Groh, hiring Gunter Brewer — but overall, the Eagles have so far been able to remain successful from a coaching standpoint. Promoting from within is something always stressed by Andy Reid and Pederson seems to feel the same way. Pederson got off to a good start in 2016 by bringing on Jim Schwartz and then having the humility to keep a bunch of good coaches from Kelly’s staff. Pederson thinks he’s grown in this area, but it’s hard for us to judge this just yet. We’ll learn more about this skill in the coming years. But Pederson’s willingness to listen to his coaches makes finding quality coaches to surround him even more important.  

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Will DeSean Jackson be a Hall of Famer?

Will DeSean Jackson be a Hall of Famer?

DeSean Jackson is the latest in a series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL.

Friday, July 19: Fletcher Cox
Saturday, July 20: Zach Ertz
Today: DeSean Jackson
Monday, July 22: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Wednesday, July 24: Jason Peters
Thursday, July 25: Darren Sproles

Numbers: 589 catches, 10,261 yards, 17.4 average, 53 receiving touchdowns, 4 rushing touchdowns, 4 punt return touchdowns.

Postseason numbers: Has 21 catches for 338 yards and two touchdowns in seven career playoff games, all but one with the Eagles between 2008 and 2013.

Honors: Three-time Pro Bowl pick (2009, 2010, 2013).

Favorite stat: With 1,156 yards and an 18.6 average in 2009 with the Eagles and then 774 yards and an 18.9 average last year with the Buccaneers, Jackson is the only player in NFL history with seasons of 750 yards and an 18.5 average at least nine years apart.

Records and rankings

• Jackson’s 17.4 yards per catch career average is highest in the NFL over the last 35 years.

• Jackson's 24 career touchdowns of 60 yards or more are most in NFL history (Jerry Rice had 23). He has 24 TD catches of at least 50 yards, fifth most in NFL history.

• He’s the only player in history to lead the NFL in yards per catch four times and the only one to do it for more than one team (he did it for three).

• Jackson is 45th in NFL history in receiving yards, but he’s one of only six guys ever with at least 10,000 receiving yards and a 17.0 average. Three of the five others are Hall of Famers.

• Jackson has had four seasons with 1,000 yards and a 17.5 average. Only Lance Alworth and Don Maynard — both Hall of Famers — have had more.

• Jackson has 29 total career TDs of at least 50 yards, which is one every five games over his entire career.

• D-Jack’s 6.4 career rushing average is seventh highest in NFL history by non-quarterbacks with at least 70 attempts.

Analysis

With 1,739 more yards and assuming he keeps his career average over 17.0 — and it will be hard for him not to at this point — D-Jack will join James Lofton as only the second player in history with 12,000 receiving yards and an average over 17 yards per catch.

He truly is one of the greatest deep threats in the history of the game, and his return to the Eagles and an opportunity to finish his career playing with Carson Wentz should give Jackson a chance to continue being productive late in his career.

When you ask yourself whether someone is a Hall of Famer, you ask if there’s anything he did better than anyone else in the game, and there’s never been anybody quite like Jackson.

I do think he needs two more seasons to even get himself into the mix, and I think even then he’ll always be a long shot, just because he’s not going to be one of those 15,000-yard career guys.

But he’s such a unique player and such a consistently explosive one, he definitely will deserve consideration five years after he does retire.

Verdict: Will not be a Hall of Famer. 

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