Eagles

Eagles

1. There’s no doubt Jason Peters is a better left tackle today than Andre Dillard. That’s not open for debate. But bringing Peters raises more questions than it answers. Could he get you through 2020? Probably. At least most of it. But he is 38 and going into his 18th season and even J.P. can’t play forever. Dillard played OK in three starts at left tackle last year, but the right tackle debacle certainly raised questions about his make-up.

The Eagles have to consider what affect it will have on Dillard if J.P. is here. If Peters starts out as a backup, how will Dillard handle a Hall of Famer lurking in the shadows? If Peters opens the season as the starter, then the Eagles have essentially given up on a 1st-round pick after just three starts. Dillard is 25 years old and only signed through 2022. If the Eagles bring Peters back, it sure points to one thing: The Eagles have no faith in a player they traded up for in the first round just 12 months ago.

2. You never truly know, but that three-game late-season stretch — Monday night vs. Seahawks at the Linc, the Packers at Lambeau and then the Saints at the Linc — sure looks like it’ll be the defining 14 days of the season. Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are all sure-thing Hall of Famers and they're a combined 16-5 against the Eagles in their careers with 40 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a composite 101.1 passer rating. All three have one of the top seven passer ratings EVER against the Eagles (along with Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Milt Plum and Kirk Cousins). That will be a tortuous stretch for Jim Schwartz’s defense, and if the Eagles can go 2-1 against those three teams they’re finishing 11-5 and winning the division.

 

3. Prediction: Greg Ward leads Eagles wide receivers this year with 74 catches.

4. I’m not saying John Hightower or Quez Watkins won’t become valuable members of the Eagles’ offense. They’re both certainly fast, and that gives them a chance. But just keep in mind that the only wide receivers the Eagles have drafted in the last 40 years in the 5th round or later who ever caught a touchdown pass in an Eagles uniform are 1982 9th-round pick Tony Woodruff (who caught five), 1990 5th-round pick Calvin Williams (who caught 34) and 2010 5th-round pick Riley Cooper (who caught 18). Not being negative, just being realistic. Receivers taken that late are true longshots. Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones were 5’s. Antonio Brown and Pierre Garcon were 6’s. Marques Colston and Julian Edelman were 7’s. It happens. But it’s rare.

5. You know what’s amazing? Dallas Goedert caught 53 passes the last 11 games of last season, and only four NFL tight ends had more catches during that span: Travis Kelce (69), George Kittle (62), Zach Ertz (59) and Tyler Higbee (56). That says as much about Goedert as it says about the receivers Wentz was throwing to during that span.

6. Only two QBs in NFL history have thrown 1,500 passes in their first four seasons but had only one pick-6 against them: Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz. The only pick-6 against Donovan in his first four seasons was by Kwamie Lassiter of the Cards at Sun Devil Stadium in 1999. The only pick-6 so far against Carson is Ryan Kerrigan’s at FedEx in 2017.

7. I’ve always marveled over how remarkable Randall Cunningham’s 1990 season was: 30 touchdown passes, just 13 interceptions and 942 rushing yards. Now think about what Lamar Jackson did last year: 36 touchdowns, just six interceptions and 1,206 rushing yards. How good is Jackson? His 6.9 rushing average is highest in NFL history for someone who ran for 1,200 yards (Jim Brown had the previous high at 6.4 in 1963). So he had one of the greatest rushing seasons ever ... and on top of that joined Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady as only the third QB with 36 TDs and six or fewer INTs. What a challenge he'll be for the Eagles' defense Week 6 at the Linc.

8. Summer of 1988. Randall Cunningham was holding out of training camp for a new contract but a few days into camp he agreed to a new deal. The thing was, we — the beat guys — needed to find out how much the deal was worth. So we’re standing at afternoon practice at what is now known as Vonnie Gros Field just behind West Chester’s Sturzebecker Fieldhouse trying to figure out the contract numbers. At one point during practice we yelled over to a teammate Randall was friendly with and asked how much Randall got. He smiled and held up three fingers and then mouthed the word “years.” And then he held up four fingers and then one finger. And that’s exactly how we learned the new contract was worth $4.1 million over three years.

 

9. One thing the Eagles didn’t do this offseason is address edge rusher. They still have Brandon Graham, who’s 32; Derek Barnett, who’s underachieved; and Josh Sweat, who’s OK. Malik Jackson could give you snaps outside. But beyond those first three, it’s Joe Ostman, Shareef Miller and Genard Avery. How about Vinny Curry? He’s still on the street, and he actually led the Eagles in sack percentage last year. Graham was one every 93 snaps, Barnett one every 110 snaps, Sweat one every 89 snaps. Curry? He had a sack every 71 snaps (5 in 355 snaps). Vinny loves being an Eagle, he's a big-effort guy and at this point can’t be looking for a big contract. I’d snap him up.

10. Jalen Reagor and his dad Montae, who finished his career here in 2007, will become only the second father-son combination in Eagles history. The first was the Goodes. John Goode spent the 1985 season with the Eagles and Najee played here from 2013 through 2017 and is still in the league. I wrote about them in 2013.

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