Some thoughts on Amari Cooper, Eagles' free agent cornerbacks over the years and of course Donnel Pumphrey as we muddle our way through the first few lonely weeks of an endless offseason.
Here's this week's Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations!
1. I've heard people say they don’t want any part of Amari Cooper because he’s a Cowboy and what about Orlando Scandrick and who wants a former Cowboy on this team? That's nuts. If the Cowboys, who are already knee-deep in trying to deal with Dak Prescott’s contract demands, decide not to keep Cooper I’d be all over that. Five years, $100 million? Works for me. You don’t rule out a potential big-time free agent because another guy from the same team is a jerk. Cooper has over 350 catches and over 5,000 yards before his 26th birthday. Good size, physical, durable. Donovan McNabb had an elite receiver for 21 games for the first nine years of his career until DeSean Jackson came along. Carson Wentz has never had an elite WR – well I guess one game with D-Jack – but if it means bringing in a former Cowboy to get him one? The Eagles need to bring in as many impact players as they can. Who cares where they come from?
2. Just for the sake of comparison, Cooper has 357 catches, 5,097 yards and 33 TDs since he entered the league in 2015. The Eagles’ leading receiver during that span is Nelson Agholor with 224 catches, 2,515 yards and 18 TDs.
3. I miss football as much as anybody else during the offseason, but gimme a break with the Donnel Pumphrey XFL updates. Who cares.
4. There’s a perception that NFL passing numbers are increasing by huge margins every year, but the reality is they’re not. Teams threw an average of 34.9 times per game this past year, but as far back as 1995 that number was 34.8 times a game. That 1995 number was a bit of an anomaly, but since 2009 it's never been lower than 33.3 and has been as high as 35.7. What’s also interesting is that plays per game hasn’t really gone up the way you would expect with teams using so much no-huddle. Teams averaged 63.5 plays this year, which is lower than most years in the 1950s, believe it or not. Running plays have decreased steadily but not as much as you’d expect - 27.8 in 1990, 27.6 in 2000, 27.2 in 2010 and 26.1 this past year. That's a decrease of 1.7 runs per team per game over three decades. Guess it all means the more football changes the more it stays the same.
5. The big criticism of Rich Scangarello in his one year as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator was his play calling. Understandable, since the Broncos were near the bottom in every offensive category. But he won’t be calling plays here, and it is encouraging to see the work he did with Drew Lock, the rookie from Missouri. Lock started the Broncos' last five games and went 4-1. He completed 64 percent of his passes with 7 TDs and 3 INTs. His 89.7 passer rating was highest ever by a 2nd-round rookie. On this team it’s all about getting the most out of Carson Wentz, and if Scangarello can help that happen it was a great hire.
6. You know what scares me? Here are the big-ticket free agent corners the Eagles have signed or traded for since Howie Roseman became GM in 2009: Ellis Hobbs, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll and Ronald Darby. Byron Maxwell was Chip’s and doesn’t count, and I didn’t include Patrick Robinson because he was a one-year, $775,000 contract. But however you line it up, it’s pretty grim. And the corners they’ve drafted in the first three rounds since Lito and Sheldon are Matt Ware, Curtis Marsh, Eric Rowe, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones. Those aren’t all on Howie, and they did find Jalen Mills in the 7th round and he’s been OK. But as far as searching for an elite corner? The Eagles are really 0-for-more than a decade.
7. The Eagles have the 4th-best second-half defense in the NFL in four years under Jim Schwartz (behind only the Vikings, Patriots and Ravens) at 9.3 points per second half. (For the record, they're 11th in the first half at 10.8 and 7th overall at 20.1)
8. He didn’t play late in the season or in the Super Bowl, but LeSean McCoy was very good the first half of the season for the Chiefs, and when the Chiefs beat the 49ers last weekend Shady became only the 11th running back in NFL history with 11,000 rushing yards and a Super Bowl ring. The others are Corey Dillon, John Riggins, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Jim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Jerome Bettis, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith. All but Dillon are Hall of Famers.
9. And how about Stefen Wisniewski? His teams didn’t reach the playoffs in his first six NFL seasons, but he’s now won Super Bowls as a starting guard in two of the last three seasons. And was benched for Isaac Seumalo in between. He’s only the 6th offensive lineman in NFL history to win a Super Bowl as a starter for two teams, joining Bart Oates, Mark Schlereth, Bill Curry, Harry Dwayne and Adam Timmerman. Pretty solid company.
10. I love the Eagles bringing Brent Celek, Connor Barwin and Darren Sproles into the front office. Three guys who played a combined 36 years in the NFL. Three guys who care deeply about this franchise. Smart guys. Good people. Guys Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie like and trust. This isn’t the 76ers hiring Elton Brand as GM. These are entry-level positions. Bring these guys in and see what they bring to the table. There is no downside.