Alshon’s value, a streak that needs to end Sunday, another mind-boggling wide receiver stat and tons more in this week’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations.
I can’t get over No. 9.
1. I’ve had a few people tell me in the past week they’d prefer if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs because it would force them to take an honest look at the roster instead of being deluded into thinking they have more talent than they really do. Here’s my thing: You’re always better off winning than losing. You’re always better off in the playoffs than out. You’re always better off with a chance to get to the Super Bowl than no chance. It’s up to Howie Roseman, Andy Weidl and their scouts to take a good, hard look at every facet of personnel either way and make the necessary changes. But if the Eagles do win the NFC East, it will likely mean they closed out the season 4-1 or 5-0, and there’s something to be said for being hot going into the playoffs. Ten wild-card teams have reached a Super Bowl and six have won it. Not the best odds. But better than if you’re not even there.
2. If Carson Wentz has a bad game in Miami? Then I’ll be concerned. The Dolphins have one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history, allowing opposing quarterbacks a 106.8 passer rating. That’s 9th-highest ever. They’re also on pace to become only the second team ever to allow 38 or more passing TDs in a season while intercepting 10 or fewer. The only QBs who haven’t had a passer rating of at least 90 against the Dolphins are Sam Darnold (85.4), Mason Rudolph (84.4) and Brian Hoyer (38.8). Wentz has to light this defense up.
3. I love hearing that Lane Johnson wants to retire an Eagle. The last player to make a Pro Bowl and spend every day of his career as an Eagle and retire as an Eagle? Mike Quick, who retired 29 years ago. Now Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Jason Kelce and Johnson all have a shot at it.
4. Alshon is clearly not the player he once was, and I’m on record as saying Howie has to find a way to move on from him after the season. But he’s still better than anybody else the Eagles have right now, and the Eagles need him down the stretch. All the injuries have taken their toll, and he’s nowhere close to the Pro Bowl, 1,400-yard guy he was in Chicago. But if he can just give the Eagles 60 or 70 yards a game it’ll be huge. Just be average. Just give Carson one reliable wide receiver. Just show up and stay engaged and catch the football. Is that too much to ask? Since Jeffery got here in 2017, the Eagles are 29-11 when he starts and finishes and 9-13 when he doesn’t. He still makes a difference. Come on, Alshon! Dare to be mediocre!
5. To put in perspective how bad the Dolphins’ running game is, consider this: Their 63 rushing yards per game is lowest by any team after 11 games since the 1961 Redskins (59.5) and before that the 1946 Lions (42.9). The Dolphins are also the first team since 1946 to average fewer than 70 yards per game and allow more than 145 rushing yards through 11 games. If Doug Pederson commits to the running game Sunday, the Eagles will win by three touchdowns. But …
6. The Eagles’ streak of games without a 100-yard rusher is up to a league-high 44. That’s the third-longest streak in franchise history and the longest in 60 years. Here’s a look at the three longest:
74 games between Swede Hanson rushing for 107 yards against the Giants on Sept. 13, 1936, and Bosh Pritchard rushing for 104 yards against the Dodgers no Nov. 15 ,1942
66 games between Don “Heartbeat” Johnson rushing for 121 yards against the Giants on Nov. 19, 1953, and Billy Ray Barnes rushing for 111 against the Cards on Oct. 25, 1959
44 games since LeGarrette Blount rushed for 136 yards against the Chargers.
7. That streak REALLY needs to end Sunday.
8. Nelson Agholor is on pace to become the 10th wide receiver in NFL history to catch 50 or more passes and average less than 9.0 yards per catch. The lowest yards per catch by a WR with 50 catches in Eagles history was Riley Cooper’s 10.5 in 2014. Nelly is averaging more than 1 ½ yards less per catch.
9. This blows my mind:
Mack Hollins: 396 snaps, 10 catches
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 252 snaps, 5 catches
Jordan Matthews: 137 snaps, 4 catches
Greg Ward: 39 snaps, 6 catches
So the 2nd-round pick has averaged a catch every 50 snaps, the third-year pro has averaged a catch every 40 snaps and the veteran second-round pick averaged a catch every 34 snaps while he was here. But the undrafted converted quarterback from the practice squad plays offense for the first time IN HIS LIFE and catches a ball every SIX snaps? I’m under no illusions that Ward is going to be a star, but I just don’t see how this is possible and how he couldn’t get a shot until Week 11.
10. It sounds like there could be as many as 30,000 Eagles fans in the building Sunday for Eagles-Dolphins, and that reminds me of the 2003 Eagles-Dolphins game in Miami, a Monday Night Football game. I’ve never seen that many Eagles fans at a road game. The Chargers game in 2017 in a small soccer stadium in Carson, Calif., had a higher percentage of Eagles fans, but Joe Robbie was packed to the gills that night 16 years ago. It was a wild back-and-forth game, but early in the fourth quarter it was tied 24-24 and the Eagles were about to start a drive at their own 38-yard-line. All of a sudden, the familiar opening notes of the Rocky theme song stared floating through the stadium. The crowd went berserk, the Eagles drove 62 yards in seven plays and took the lead for good on Correll Buckhalter’s impossible flying twisting upside-down touchdown run. Why the Dolphins would play the one song most associated with Philadelphia at a key point in an Eagles-Dolphins game I’ll never know. But to this day I credit the Rocky theme for that Eagles win.
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