A look at the Eagles’ terrible run defense, a wasted fourth-round pick and the miracle of DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown.
It’s a bonus Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations and don’t get used to getting these every day like last week, but is one a week OK?
1. One big focus for Howie Roseman this offseason has to be upgrading the run defense. The Eagles wound up allowing 4.7 yards per carry this year, tied for 8th-worst in the league and their worst in more than 60 years. The Chiefs hammered it down their throats Sunday to the tune of 6.1 yards per carry — the highest rushing average vs. the Eagles in a postseason game since the 1947 NFL Championship Game, when the Cards averaged 7.2, and the 8th-highest in Super Bowl history.
In the second half, they ran 19 times for 119 yards for 6.3 yards per carry. This is insane: 11 teams averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry against the Eagles this year. That ties the most in NFL history.
The thing is, with the talent the Eagles had up front, they should have been much better vs. the run. Jordan Davis will have to take on a bigger role next year, and I think he’ll be ready for it. Milton Williams, too. But that’s it as far as guys under contract.
Maybe Roseman can re-sign Javon Hargrave, but he won’t be cheap and the fact that a deal hasn’t gotten done yet doesn’t augur well. I wouldn’t mind bringing back Ndamukong Suh for another year if he wants to keep playing on a low-budget deal. But they definitely need more up front. Reed Blankenship, T.J. Edwards and Marcus Epps graded out well against the run, but Edwards and Epps are also unsigned.
Hard to believe an Andy Reid team committed to the run in a Super Bowl, but in the second half the Chiefs were 19 for 119 rushing. The Chiefs kept gashing the Eagles up front, and the Eagles had no answers. Heck, the Chiefs had more rushing yards than passing yards after halftime. That’s embarrassing. When Reid is running it at will, you know you have issues.
2. Because of the way the game ended, we didn’t spend much time Sunday marveling over Smith and Brown, but they both had massive games against the Chiefs and you couldn’t ask for more from the best Eagles 1-2 WR tandem ever. Smith caught seven passes for 100 yards and Brown was 6 for 96 with a TD, and they each had a 45-yard catch.
Smith is 24, Brown is 25, and they’re the first pair of WRs 25 or younger with 96 or more yards in a Super Bowl. They both make difficult, contested catches, they both match the physicality of even the toughest corners, they both have a tremendous connection with Jalen Hurts and they’re both signed through at least 2025.
Hard to believe we’re only two years removed from the days of Reagor, Fulgham and JJAW.
3. The Chiefs became the first team in 32 years to win a Super Bowl without a pass play over 22 yards. Their longest pass play was a 22-yarder to Travis Kelce in the first quarter. The last team to do it was the 1990 Giants, whose longest pass play was a 22-yarder from Jeff Hostetler to Mark Ingram in Super Bowl XXV over the Bills in Tampa.
The only other team to win a Super Bowl without a pass play over 22 yards was the 1981 49ers, whose longest completed pass in Super Bowl XVI over the Bengals in Pontiac, Michigan, was a 22-yarder from Joe Montana to Mike Wilson.
4. Jonathan Gannon along with Tracey Rocker and Jeremiah Washburn, the Eagles’ defensive line and edge rusher coaches, really shortened the bench Sunday. Fletcher Cox played 82 percent of the defensive snaps, his 2nd-highest total this year; Josh Sweat played a season-high 82 percent, Hargrave played 76 percent, his 2nd-highest; and Haason Reddick played 84 percent, his 2nd-highest total.
Everybody else — Brandon Graham, Williams, Suh, Davis and Linval Joseph — played between 10 and 18 snaps or 33 percent or less. During the regular season, there were only three instances of any of those four guys playing 75 percent of the snaps. On Sunday, three of them did.
Now, the Chiefs didn’t run a ton of plays — just 53. But in the second half they ran 33 plays, and if it looked like the Eagles wore down up front, it sure could be because the main group played a lot more snaps than they have been all year. The d-line rotation has been a key to the Eagles’ production. When you look at the second half Sunday, the Chiefs ran at will and the Eagles’ pass pressure dried up.
Maybe it’s a coincidence that all that coincided with those four guys playing such a high percentage of the snaps but I kind of doubt it.
5. Scanning the Eagles’ snap counts Sunday, this jumped off the page: “Robert Quinn, DE, 2 snaps, 4%.” Roseman didn’t have many missteps this year, but Quinn was a glaring one. You think about the impact Jay Ajayi made on the 2017 team and even Golden Tate in 2018 with the game-winning catch in the playoff win in Chicago.
But the Eagles got exactly nothing for a 4th-round pick. Quinn averaged 15 snaps per game during the regular season but just 8.0 in the three postseason games. And two snaps in a Super Bowl is embarrassing. Hard to believe he had 18 ½ sacks last year. His drop from 18 ½ to 1.0 this year — the one was with the Bears — is the largest sack decline in NFL history from one year to the next.
Quinn is not signed beyond this year, and I’d be surprised if he plays again. Roseman will no doubt conjure up some more draft picks out of thin air, but a 4th-round pick for zippo is a tough one.
6. You never want to put too much weight on the way a season ends when you’re making decisions about a player’s future, but I do believe Miles Sanders’ lack of consistency late in the season might cost him a new contract with the Eagles. Sanders ran for 1,200 yards, a 4.9 average and 11 touchdowns during the regular season and made his first Pro Bowl. A monster season.
But he was a non-factor Sunday with 16 yards on seven carries, a 2.3 average. He’s only the fourth running back ever to gain 1,000 yards during the regular season and average 2.3 or worse in a Super Bowl — the first in more than 20 years. Sanders was also 7 for 16 against the Buccaneers last year.
Now, Sanders did get banged up Sunday and had a wrap on his hand after the game, and although we don’t know how much it affected him, he was healthy enough to play. And injuries certainly are an important factor when determining his value. Sanders has very good career numbers — he’s one of only four players in history to rush for 750 yards with an average of at least 4.6 in each of his first four seasons. But seven of his last 11 games this year he averaged under 4.0 yards per carry, and he’s got a pedestrian 4.2 career postseason average.
I like Sanders and I think he's a good back who’s gotten better each year. But if signing him means not signing Edwards or Chauncey Gardner-Johnson or Hargrave or another key piece, then the Eagles need to move on. Spotrac projects Sanders as getting a two-year deal with over $7 million per year, and I just can’t see it. You can find running backs. Sanders is really good, but not that good.
7. We’ll find out about Jason Kelce soon and Graham as well. But Sunday was certainly Cox’s final game in an Eagles uniform and what a career. Obviously not close to the player he once was, which is always hard to watch. But only Dawk and Kelce started more games in Eagles history than Cox, his 65 sacks are 5th-most in franchise history behind Reggie, Trent, Clyde and B.G., and only Chuck Bednarik, Dawk, Jason Peters and Reggie White made more Pro Bowls. Next stop: Eagles’ Hall of Fame.
8. I know a lot of people are concerned that because of the impending blockbuster Hurts contract Roseman will be so hamstrung under the cap he won’t be able to re-sign anyone. But that’s not the case.
Will he be able to sign everyone? No. James Bradberry is likely off the table because when you have a QB on a massive deal, you just can’t have two corners each making $17 million per year.
Hargrave may be gone because as great as he’s been, do you want to pay a 30-year-old defensive tackle $20 million a year?
Sanders we talked about. Are you going to pay him $7 million a year when you have Kenny Gainwell under a rookie 5th-round contract and you can draft a cheap guy in the third round? Maybe but probably not.
Do you really want to pay Isaac Seumalo $12 million a year when Jeff Stoutland can turn just about anybody (Cam Jurgens? Sua Opeta? Jack Driscoll? Andre Dillard?) into a functional right guard? Nah.
But if Roseman prioritizes, say, Gardner-Johnson and Edwards, he can make that happen. He’s been preparing for this for quite a while and there’s no GM you’d rather have navigating a roster through the challenges of a $250 million QB contract than Roseman.
9. Dallas Goedert quietly had a monster game Sunday. He caught six passes and every one was contested. He just made tough catch in traffic after tough catch in traffic and finished 6 for 60.
He’s always been a big-time postseason player. Get this: Goedert now has six straight postseason games with at least five catches, which is tied for the eighth-longest streak ever. Behind people like Jerry Rice, Travis Kelce, Ja’Marr Chase and Tyreek Hill. Goedert’s streak is second-longest ever by a tight end.
Goedert is also the only Eagle ever with five postseason games with five receptions. Harold Carmichael, Duce Staley and Zach Ertz had four apiece. Second-best tight end in football.
10. Hurts is going to win a Super Bowl.
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