Jeffrey Lurie's handling of DeSean Jackson, the most underrated play of Super Bowl LII and an amazing Irving Fryar stat.
All that and so much more in this week's Roob's 10 random Eagles observations!
1. I’ve heard everything from the Eagles were too hard on Jackson all the way to they let him off too easy. Very difficult situation. No easy answer, and I'm sure Lurie struggled with his response. Honestly, I think he got it right. Nobody benefits from just cutting him. And nobody learns a thing if there’s just a fine. I wrote when this first happened: “DeSean simply can’t be allowed to put on an Eagles uniform again until he displays a true understanding of why his posts were so incredibly hateful and harmful,” and that’s exactly the route the Eagles took, and I believe Jackson is on his way toward doing just that. And if not? He's gone. I give the Eagles a tremendous amount of credit for their restraint, because I would guess Lurie’s initial reaction was outta here. But Lurie has never been one to make rash decisions. He genuinely wants his players — and all his employees — to have every opportunity to constantly evolve and learn and grow. And honestly, that’s what we should all want.
2. I had to laugh at the NFL’s edict that players won’t be allowed to interact or exchange jerseys after games this year as a safety measure. So after blocking each other, tackling each other, sweating on each other and falling on top of each other for three hours they can’t shake hands? Makes perfect sense.
3. And as much as I love football and can’t imagine a Sunday afternoon in the fall without football and desperately hope the NFL can find a way to safely play this fall, I don’t see how it’s going to be possible without either a bubble or accurate testing with immediate results.
4. But the amount of money at stake here is staggering. For each week of football the league can squeeze out, each team will receive about $10 million in TV revenue on the league’s massive $40 billion TV contract. If they have to cancel the season after six weeks? That’s $60 million each team has already pocketed. Is the league putting players at risk to generate as much of that revenue as possible? Whatever happens, don’t feel sorry for the NFL. Based on recent ratings and the new CBA, the next TV deal — which starts after the 2022 season — is going to be even more lucrative than the current one.
5. Let's talk Super Bowl. The Eagles’ fourth-down conversion near midfield with 5 1/2 minutes left in the Super Bowl might be the most underrated play in Super Bowl history. It gets forgotten because of all the other remarkable plays — the Philly Special, the Corey Clement TD and 55-yard gain to set up the Philly Special, the Ertz game-winning TD later on the drive, the Brandon Graham strip sack and so many others. But think about it. There’s 5:39 left in the game, the Patriots are up 33-32, and the Eagles have 4th-and-1 on their own 45-yard-line. The Patriots at that point had scored touchdowns on three straight drives and four of their last five. If that fourth down fails, you’re giving the greatest Super Bowl QB of all-time a 45-yard field in the midst of one of the greatest passing days of his career. But Doug Pederson didn’t hesitate to keep his offense on the field. Nik Foles took the shotgun snap from Jason Kelce with one second on the play clock, dropped back and was instantly under tremendous pressure up the middle from defensive tackle Malcolm Brown. He was backpedaling as he threw and had to throw high to get the ball over charging linebacker Kyle Van Noy. It was astonishing just for him to get the throw off. Ertz went up and secured the ball just past the sticks and held on for dear life as he got drilled by safety Duron Harmon. A few plays later, the Eagles took the lead for good. That play remains the only fourth-quarter, fourth-down completion on a game-winning drive in Super Bowl history. If the Eagles don’t convert, they don’t win the Super Bowl. I've watched that play 5,000 times and it never ceases to blow my mind.
6. Tom Brady only lost 21 home games in his 18 years as the Patriots' starting quarterback.
7. If Nelson Agholor repeated his Super Bowl performance for 16 regular-season games, he’d have 144 catches for 1,344 yards and 1,488 scrimmage yards.
8. The day Ertz was drafted, he gave a lot of credit to three-time All-Oro 49ers tight end Brent Jones, who coached him and mentored him in high school. I called Jones up that day in 2013 and wrote about his relationship with Ertz.
Check out a couple of Jones' comments from that interview:
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Zach surpasses all my numbers before he’s done. He’s going to have a tremendously successful career.”
“But what I’d really love to see is Zach help the Eagles win a Super Bowl. That would be great to see.”
Seven years later, Ertz has done both.
9. The Eagles ranked 22nd in the league with 17 takeaways in 2018 and 19th last year with 20. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve had 20 or fewer takeaways in consecutive years.
10. Looking back, it’s incredible what Irving Fryar was able to do in 1996 and 1997. Despite playing with a rotating group of quarterbacks (Ty Detmer, Rodney Peete, Bobby Hoying), he became the first player in NFL history with consecutive seasons of at least 85 catches and 1,100 yards after his 34th birthday. Cris Carter did it a few years later for the Vikings. Fryar is still the only player in Eagles history — of any age — with more than one 85-catch, 1,100-yard season.
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