The Lane Johnson effect, concern about Michael Bennett, pondering Jordan Matthews and remembering Wes Hopkins.
It's all here and much more in this week's Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!
1. Fascinating to me that the Eagles have eight sacks this year and five have been in the fourth quarter. Look at this chart that shows how many dropbacks there’ve been against the Eagles by quarter and how many sacks:
1st quarter – 30 dropbacks, 1 sack
2nd quarter – 27 dropbacks, 2 sacks
3rd quarter – 27 dropbacks, 0 sacks
4th quarter - 41 dropbacks, 5 sacks
That's a sack every 28 dropbacks the first three quarters and one every eight dropbacks in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles rank 18th in first-quarter sacks, 14th in the second quarter, tied for 29th in the third quarter sacks and … first in the fourth quarter. The Giants (with two) are the only NFL team with fewer sacks through the first 45 minutes. But nobody has more in the fourth quarter.
My takeaway? The Eagles’ pass rushers are certainly very fit and tenacious. They don’t back down. They play 60 minutes. They don’t let a poor start get them down. Five fourth-quarter sacks speaks volumes. But three sacks going into the fourth quarter isn’t enough. Quarterbacks have been able to stand in the pocket and make throws for much of the game so far — 5 TDs, 1 INT and a 95.6 passer rating going into the fourth quarter but 0 TDs, 1 INT and a 78.4 rating in the fourth quarter.
What we see in the last 15 minutes the Eagles need more of in the first 45 minutes.
2. Zach Ertz needs only 31 catches to move into the top-five in Eagles history. That’s nuts, considering he’s only in his sixth season.
3. Without Darren Sproles, without much of a return game at all, and without many turnovers, the Eagles have been hamstrung so far by terrible field position. Some 25 of their 34 drives have started at their own 25 or worse, 11 of them inside the 20. Only one has started across midfield and that was at Tampa’s 47-yard-line and went nowhere. Their average drive start is their own 24-yard-line, which is third-worst in the league. Meanwhile, their opponents have started at their own 33, which is the best in the league. That’s a very tough way to win football games.
4. It’s kind of intriguing to think what Jordan Matthews might be able to contribute without the pressure of being a high-paid, high-round draft pick. He may not be a No. 1, but I’ll bet he could be a heck of a No. 3.
5. The work Chris Long is doing in the community is so huge. Long’s latest initiative through his Chris Long Foundation in conjunction with the United Way is the First Quarter for Literacy drive, which aims to provide books to area kids who don’t have them, encourage Eagles fans to help out by donating books and educate parents and caregivers on the importance of raising youngsters who love to read. The focus of Long’s drive is fourth-graders, because of the connection between reading ability at that age and long-term academic success. Long is donating $625,000 — a quarter of his 2018 base salary of $2.5 million — to start the drive. For more info, check out FirstQuarterForLiteracy.org or chrislongfoundation.com.
6. My favorite Carson Wentz number from Sunday was 67.6 percent accuracy. That’s his ninth-highest in 30 career games. Wentz said he was disappointed with his 60 percent completion percentage last year, so it's really encouraging to see him close to 68 percent in his first game in 9 ½ months.
7. Pat Mahomes might extend Andy Reid’s career by 10 years. Heck, he might get Big Red into the Hall of Fame, Super Bowl title or not. Andy is already 10th all-time with 186 wins as a head coach but just 40 wins out of the top five. He’s 10th all-time with 11 playoff wins and five out of the top 5. Andy’s 60. If he coaches five more years and averages, say, 9 1/2 wins, his career average, and adds a few playoff wins? He’s in.
8. The Eagles are 22-4 under Doug Pederson when Lane Johnson plays.
9. It’s still early, but Michael Bennett has five tackles, four hurries and no sacks in 104 snaps. Bennett was a Pro Bowler each of the last three years. He’s 32 now. He hasn’t looked like a Pro Bowler yet. Need to see more from him.
10. I started covering the Eagles in 1987, and guys like Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Andre Waters and Wes Hopkins were like superheroes to me. Just larger-than-life figures. They were immense talents with personalities to match their ability. Those Eagles teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s put football back on the map in Philadelphia, and those defenses are still revered. Even now, 30 years later, mention Reggie, Wes, Jerome and Andre to a random stranger walking down Walnut Street and they’ll know exactly who you mean. I feel so lucky that as a young sports writer just starting out at the Burlington County Times I got to know those guys and got to watch them play football every Sunday and see their antics in the locker room and talk to them after their triumphs and disappointments. I can’t believe they’re all gone. It’s so hard to keep saying good-bye. They've all left us way too young.