Eagles

DeSean Jackson's future and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

DeSean Jackson's future and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Ominous signs from Jeff Lurie, the search for elite defensive backs, DeSean Jackson's future and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations!

And only 35 weeks until opening day!

1. One of the things that’s always set Jeff Lurie apart from owners like Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones has been the distance he keeps from football operations. He’s always left all that up to his coaches, front-office execs and scouts. Hire good people and let them do their jobs. The fact that Lurie appears to now be meddling in stuff that’s outside his bailiwick is troubling. Lurie needs to focus on owner stuff — The Eagles Charitable Foundation, the Go Green initiative, the Eagles Autism Challenge. All worthy causes that have nothing to do with football. If you don’t think your GM and head coach are doing a good enough job making decisions on their own? Then find better people.

2. Howie Roseman kept emphasizing the other day how the Eagles need to get younger, and of course he’s right. And it’s good to hear him acknowledge it. The Eagles have one young player who I would say is elite, and that’s Miles Sanders. You can make a case for Dallas Goedert. To put this in perspective: 31 NFL players 25 or younger made the Pro Bowl this year, 39 last year. None were Eagles. The Eagles’ only Pro Bowlers 25 and under since the days of Shady and DeSean are Nick Foles in 2013, Fletcher Cox in 2014, Cody Parkey in 2015 and Carson Wentz in 2017. The Eagles don’t just need young players. They need elite young players.

3. Along those lines … there’ve been 88 Pro Bowl defensive backs drafted since the last time the Eagles drafted one. Those 88 draft picks have been selected to a combined 205 Pro Bowls. The Eagles are the only NFL team that hasn’t drafted a Pro Bowl d-back since 2003.

4. Nothing truly capsulizes the current state of the Eagles’ wide receiver situation more than the fact that their biggest play against the Seahawks was a DPI drawn by Shelton Gibson, who was on the Browns’ practice squad all year, hasn’t played a regular-season NFL snap since Week 13 of 2018 and only played one other snap on Sunday. Josh McCown to Shelton Gibson. Just how the Eagles drew it up in training camp.

5. Interesting that WR coach Carson Walch was fired but assistant WR coach Matt Harper — as far as we know — hasn’t been. Harper coached under Chip Kelly at Oregon, and Chip brought him here in 2013. And he’s still here. Wonder if he’ll be your 6th WRs coach in six years. When you keep changing receivers coaches every year I’d think a little consistency might be important.

6. Gotta say I’m pretty intrigued by what Boston Scott will be able to do over a full season. If you take his last five games - once he got a role on offense - and project them over a full season you have 483 rushing yards, 636 receiving yards, 1,119 total yards and 12 touchdowns. That’s a little much, especially projecting Miles Sanders’ full-season workload. But I could see him in the 350 / 350 range. The Eagles have never had two backs the same season with 350 yards both rushing and receiving. The versatility and explosiveness that duo gives you is fun to think about.

7. I expect Nelly to be elsewhere next year. I expect Howie to figure out a way to unload Alshon. But I want DeSean back. I know he turns 34 during the 2020 season. I know he only had one healthy game all year. But you can’t replace an entire wide receiver corps in one offseason. And for some reason I just don’t trust this front office to draft or sign the right guys when it comes to receivers. The Eagles’ best chance to get a game-breaking wideout on the roster next year is to keep the one they already have.

8. A lot of people have asked about Zach Ertz’s future in light of his contract situation — he’s up after 2021 — and Dallas Goedert’s rise to prominence. Ertz will no doubt be looking for huge money at some point fairly soon. And when you look at what Goedert has done — from Week 6 through wild-card weekend he had 60 catches, 3rd-most among all NFL tight ends, behind Travis Kelce and Ertz — it’s an understandable question. But there’s absolutely no reason the Eagles can’t and won’t keep both. It makes sense from both a financial and a football standpoint. Even when (if?) they actually put together a legit wide receiver corps, there’ll always be a place in this offense for two big-time receiving tight ends. Especially as much as Doug Pederson likes two-TE sets. More weapons means more options. And that means a more dangerous offense.

9. Crazy that Goedert actually has more catches in his first two seasons than Ertz (100 to 97). He’s one of only 21 tight ends in NFL history with 100 catches in his first two years. The only team that ever had two of them playing together was the Patriots with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

10. You know what’s a hell of an effective formula to win a playoff game? Move the chains on offense and limit points on defense. Coming into this year, NFL teams were 182-10 all-time in postseason history when they recorded 20 or more first downs and held the opposing team to 17 or fewer points. That's a .948 winning percentage. Not bad. That’s now 183-11. Because the Eagles picked up 20 first downs, gave up 17 points and lost. That’s not easy to do. But that’s what happens when you have drives to the 28, 20 and 8 and get field goals and drives to the 24 and 10 and don’t score. Excrutiating way for a season to end. Because even with all the injuries and with 40-year-old Josh McCown out there playing quarterback with a torn hamstring, if they convert that 4th-and-4 where McCown underthrew Miles Sanders and Sanders couldn't make the catch ... I think they win that game.

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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Will both starting safeties return?

Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Will both starting safeties return?

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we’ll look at safeties:

Malcolm Jenkins 

Roob: I find it difficult to believe the Eagles won’t be able to come to a sensible contract extension with Jenkins, who's still one of the Eagles’ best players and an unquestioned leader in that locker room. The franchise that let Reggie go and let Dawk go isn’t going to let Malcolm go.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Malcolm Jenkins has been one of the most versatile and dependable players in the NFL over the past several seasons. He wants to get a pay raise and he deserves it. He doesn’t deserve to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL but he deserves to be top 7-10. And for how much he means to the Eagles, they have to figure out a way to keep him. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: Unlike Roob's choice of Alshon Jeffery, I believe this to be the ultimate stay or go decision for the Eagles this offseason. The club wants to get younger, and giving Jenkins the extension that he is demanding -- and he made it very clear it is a demand this time -- doesn't really mesh with that. On the other hand, the guy pretty much never comes off the field, even on special teams, which makes him almost indispensable. Further complicating the decision, Jenkins looked ordinary early in 2019, but played more like a three-time Pro Bowler down the stretch, so while it wasn't his most dominant season, it's hard to say he experienced a dramatic decline. I won't be surprised if the Eagles trade him, but I think they should keep him as long as he's realistic about the length of a new deal. 

Verdict: Stays

Rodney McLeod 

Roob: McLeod is a pretty solid, under-rated guy, and unless he’s looking to break the bank as a free agent I think he’ll be back. McLeod is the kind of guy who has more value here than as a free agent because he provides Eagles continuity in a secondary that’s going to be changing a lot and he has a comfort level in this defense. 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: A former undrafted player, McLeod has carved out a really nice career, first with the Rams and now in Philadelphia. He has been an important player for the last four years and he obviously likes it here; he took a big pay cut to return in 2019 after an ACL tear the previous season. But he’s 29 and the Eagles should prioritize paying Jenkins and perhaps a free agent corner. This is also McLeod’s last chance for a pay day. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Jenkins wasn't the only iron man in the secondary this season. McLeod was on the field for all but two snaps, and he played pretty strong for a guy the Eagles forced to take a pay cut in the offseason for some reason. He's a free agent and turns 30, which again would seem to fly in the face of an impending youth movement. But also like Jenkins, it's not easy to replace somebody who plays that many snaps at such a high level. If he makes it to the market, McLeod will get scooped up in a hurry. The Eagles should do what they can to try to prevent that. 

Verdict: Stays

Marcus Epps 

Roob: Epps didn’t join the Eagles until November but he gradually  became a pretty significant guy, averaging close to 20 defensive snaps in the last five games. Jim Schwartz likes him, he’s under contract, he's cheap and there are literally no other promising young safeties on the roster. All all that gives him a fair shot at the 53.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: Epps was a sixth round pick of the Vikings but got to Philly in November and by the end of the season was playing a significant role on defense. He’s young and cheap and wasn’t bad. No reason to toss him aside just yet. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Here's the other problem with letting either Jenkins or McLeod go: Epps is currently the top reserve safety on the roster. That means if the Eagles' free agency or draft plans fall through, a sixth-round pick who was released by the Vikings in the middle of his rookie year is potentially your starter. Nothing against Epps, but they can't afford to have that happen. And since the club needs to infuse the position with some quality young prospects, he may not even hold on to his current role.

Verdict: Goes

Rudy Ford 

Roob: Ford played a ton on special teams the first two months of the season – a team-high 213 snaps through 10 games -- before winding up on IR. He'll be in training camp if he's healthy, but assuming the Eagles bring in a bunch of young db’s, finding his way back to the 53 will be a challenge.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Ford ended the season on IR but he was a special teamer before that. That’s probably his most important role, on special teams. But that can be important too. We’ll have to see if the Eagles draft a safety or bring another one in, but for now, I’m cool with keeping Ford as a cheap special teams player. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: For some reason, the Eagles seem really high on Ford as a special teams ace. Yet, this is a guy who accounted for 3.7% of the team's total penalties for the entire season while playing less than 1% of the total plays. He'll be back, but hopefully returns a more disciplined player. 

Verdict: Stays

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Eli Manning is retiring and the Eagles will miss him

Eli Manning is retiring and the Eagles will miss him

After 16 seasons and two Super Bowl wins, Giants quarterback Eli Manning will announce his retirement at a press conference on Friday afternoon, according to ESPN.

The Eagles will probably miss him.

Because over Eli’s 16-year career, he played the Eagles more than any other team. And he finishes with a career record of 10-21 against Philadelphia, which doesn’t even include both playoff losses to the Birds.

And recently, it was even worse for Manning against the Eagles. Including the game back on Dec. 9 this season, when Manning started for an injured Daniel Jones, Manning lost the last six times he faced the Eagles.

The Eagles have never faced another quarterback more; they have also never beaten an opposing quarterback more.

Here’s a look at Manning’s numbers in his 31 career games against the Eagles:

Record: 10-21
Comp %: 59.3
Yards: 7,994 or 257.9 per game
Touchdowns: 54
Interceptions: 34

Manning threw for more yards, touchdowns and interceptions against the Eagles than any other team. And on the flip side, Manning is the all-time leader in those three categories among opposing QBs facing the Eagles too.

But Manning didn’t have trouble with the other division teams like he did against the Eagles. His record against the Cowboys was 13-17; his record against the Redskins was 19-10.

So now the question for the next five years becomes about Manning’s Hall of Fame odds and worthiness. It’s a question we’ve already been trying to ask for years. Reuben Frank gave his best assessment of that question during the season.

I think the answer to that question in Philadelphia is going to be different than the answer from the rest of the country.

I’m interested to see how different it is.

Manning’s Hall of Fame candidacy is going to be one of the trickier cases we’ve ever seen. Overall, he was a slightly above average quarterback who will finish with a .500 record but who also had moments of greatness, especially when it mattered most.

Manning was the MVP of Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI. Both wins came over Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and one of the most impressive dynasties in the history of American sports. But his combined numbers in those two games aren’t even very impressive: He completed 66 percent of his passes for 551 yards (275.5) with three touchdowns and one interception.

Still, the four other players to win multiple Super Bowl MVPs are Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Three are in the Hall of Fame and the other will be there the split second he’s eligible.

The crazy thing is that I’d imagine his career record of 117-117 will be one of Manning’s biggest hurdles to get into the Hall. He can thank the Eagles for that. If he never had to play the Birds, his career record would be 107-96, which sounds a heckuva lot better.

He'll probably get into the Hall either way. But it might have been a lot easier for him if he never had to play the Eagles.

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