Why Duce Staley keeps having visions of Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner

Why Duce Staley keeps having visions of Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner

Duce Staley has seen first-hand all the great Eagles running back tandems of the modern era.

If he didn't coach them, he was part of them.

Duce was an Eagles rookie in 1997, when Ricky Watters netted over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and Charlie Garner added close to 800.

In 2001, Staley had over 1,200 net yards and Correll Buckhalter over 700. By 2003, Brian Westbrook had joined Staley and Buck for the vaunted three-headed monster that carried the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game.

Even Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles each had over 750 net yards under Staley's watch in 2016. And in 2017, he coached Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to big years during the Super Bowl run.

“You know how we do it around here,” Staley said Thursday. “We’ve been doing it as far as running back by rotation for a long time.”

And that’s the case again this year with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders.

Staley spent seven years with the Eagles as a player, and he’s now in his ninth year as coach, having served under Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson.

And after all those terrific tandems, Howard and Sanders could wind up being one of the best.

Both are young, both are talented, both work well together, and they have the benefit of an offensive line that’s playing at a high level.

Nine games in, Sanders has 641 scrimmrage yards and Howard has 594. This is the first time two Eagles running backs have had 500 yards from scrimmage and at least a 4.0 rushing average after nine games since 1973 (Norm Bulaich, Tom Sullivan.

The Eagles have never had two running backs with 1,000 scrimmage yards in the same seaason. Sanders and Howard are on pace to get there

When Duce watches them, who does he see?

“I think, honestly, they remind me Charlie Garner and Rickey Watters, thunder and lighting,” he said. “That’s what it reminds me of every time I see them out on the field.”

Howard has 525 rushing yards,  a 4.4 average and seven touchdowns. Sanders has over 300 yards both rushing and receiving.

In Staley’s scenario, Howard is Watters, a tough, physical inside runner, and Sanders is Garner, a faster, more elusive back.

“You look at Jordan, he’s always falling forward, he’s always falling forward,” Staley said. “What we take pride in is if nothing’s there, getting back to the line of scrimmage. That’s very important. It’s hard to call plays for 2nd and 13, but if it’s 2nd-and-10 it’s a little easier.”

As for Sanders, he just gets better and better each week. Since Week 3, he’s 12th among all NFL running backs in scrimmage yards.

“He’s slowly but surely coming along,” Staley said. “Some of my teachings, some of T.J,’s teachings (T.J. Paginetti, assistant running backs coach). We take pride in ball security, we take pride in protecting the quarterback, and he’s already a natural runner, so slowly but surely he’s coming along.”

The Eagles are among seven teams with two running backs on pace for 1,000 scrimmage yards.

If you want to put the football in the hands of a couple tough, physical, versatile rotational running backs, it’s hard to imagine a better young tandem than Jordan and Sanders.

And if  you're going to pick the perfect guy to coach a couple tough, physical, versatile rotational backs, it’s hard to imagine a better guy than Duce.

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Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Navy pulls off iconic Philly Special at the Linc

Let's just say, the Navy Midshipmen certainly know how to win over a crowd in Philadelphia.

On Saturday during the 120th Army-Navy game, a familiar play call was seen.

You might have seen it before. There's a statue immortalizing it in front of the Linc. It happened during Super Bowl LII. Anything come to mind?

That's right. The Philly Special.

What an awesome moment in the middle of one of the best days in sports. Check it out:

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A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

A myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd and much more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!

Another myth dispelled, thoughts on the Carson Sucks crowd, an observation about Duce Staley and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's Random Eagles Observations! 

1. Dwayne Haskins may develop into a big-time NFL quarterback. He certainly has the arm. But right now he’s a 22-year-old rookie with 3 TDs and 7 INTs in seven career games and a miserable 61.2 passer rating — worst among current starter QBs. This is a quarterback the Eagles need to dominate. Pressure him. Mix coverages and blitzes. Confuse him. When you get your hands on a ball, make the interception. When you get your hands around him, bring him down. He can’t drive the offense 75 yards down the field in 10 plays, but he's got a legit arm so don’t allow big plays over the top. Don’t give the Redskins a reason to keep fighting like you did the last two weeks against bad teams. The Eagles are 4-1 against rookie quarterbacks under Jim Schwartz, allowing 12 points per game. More of that Sunday. This shouldn’t even be a game by 2:30 p.m. But I'm afraid it will be.

2. Here’s one for the Carson Sucks crowd: Despite missing eight games the last two years and with three games still to go, Wentz already has the 9th-most TD passes in NFL history by a QB in his first four seasons. Three more in the last three games move him up to 6th. He’s also thrown 35 interceptions. Of the 10 QBs currently ahead of him in TD passes over their first four seasons, only Russell Wilson has also thrown fewer than 44  interceptions in his first four years, and only Wilson and Dan Marino have a higher passer rating. Worst QB ever.

3. The Eagles have used 18 cornerbacks since 2016.  Eight of them are no longer in the NFL.

4. I’m always up for a good conspiracy theory. Did you know the first manned moon landing was actually fabricated and the astronauts were actually on a film set in Arizona made to look like the moon? For real! I saw it in Capricorn One! Some conspiracy theories are hilarious, like the one making the rounds this week. Did you know Jordan Howard isn’t really hurt, he’s sitting out to protest not having a long-term contract? I swear, I got that from at least a dozen people this past week. Yeah, that’s a great way to get a new contract! Pretend you’re hurt, lie about a neck injury, miss five games, watch your free agency value plummet and hope that the Eagles just happen to forget to inform other teams that you were healthy all along but just didn’t feel like playing. Makes perfect sense!  

5. MYTH: “Jim Schwartz NEVER ADJUSTS.”
REALITY: Since 2016, the Eagles have allowed the 11th-fewest first-half points in the NFL  [11.0 per game], but they’ve allowed the 4th-fewest second-half points [9.6], behind the Vikings, Patriots and Ravens. Among the top 20 defenses in the league over the last four years, only the Vikings [2.1-point differential] have a larger first-half / second-half point differential than the Eagles [1.4 points]. Overall, the Eagles have allowed the 7th-fewest points in the NFL over the last four years.

6. I count 21 Eagles players who’ve missed a total of 105 games so far this year, a figure that will go up considering how many won’t be playing the next three. Two things: 1) The Eagles have to take an honest look at every facet of their training, conditioning and rehab this offseason and figure out why half the team is always hurt. And 2) It really makes you appreciate guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Kelce, the only Eagles to start and finish all 45 games since opening day 2017. Not far behind are Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks (44), Fletcher Cox (43) and Zach Ertz (42). Those guys have been there for their team every step of the way — or almost every step — for three years now. They're all-time Eagles.

7. What the heck is going on with Genard Avery? The Eagles spent a 4th-round draft pick to acquire Avery from the Browns in October, and he’s played 20 snaps on defense in five games since. TWENTY SNAPS. He didn’t play a snap on defense in the Giants game. His snaps were supposed to go up as he got acclimated to the defense. Now he’s not even playing. He’s been here seven weeks now, and he can’t even get a single snap on defense? He’s playing a lot on special teams (19 snaps per game), but that’s an awfully expensive special teamer.

8. How bad are the Redskins? They've scored 79 points in six home games. They have eight offensive touchdowns at Fedex Field this year. And five of them were in their first two games. They've scored THREE offensive touchdowns in their last four home games. The Eagles are actually 3rd-BEST in the NFL in road scoring at 29.3 points per game. This REALLY needs to be a blowout.

9. Rasul Douglas is the Eagles’ best cornerback.

10. Think about Duce Staley’s body of work as Eagles running backs coach: 1) Got a 776-yard, 9-TD season out of Ryan Mathews in 2016. 2) Won a Super Bowl with LeGarrette Blount on his last legs and Jay Ajayi coming in halfway through the season. 3) Undrafted rookie Corey Clement, who had 10 catches all year, had a 100-yard receiving game and miracle TD in a Super Bowl. 4) Got over 500 yards and a 4.3 average from undrafted rookie Josh Adams in 2018. 5) Miles Sanders has already broken the franchise record for scrimmage yards by a rookie. 6) Jordan Howard was in the midst of a comeback year with a 4.4 average and 7 TDs before he got hurt. 7) Darren Sproles netted nearly 1,400 scrimmage yards in just 30 games, all after turning 33. 8) Boston Scott comes off the practice squad to pile up 128 scrimmage yards in a critical win over the Giants. 9) Eagles are the No. 12 rushing team in the NFL in four years under Staley even though nobody on the roster has rushed for more than 850 yards TOTAL during that span. 10) All 11 running backs who’ve gotten at least 30 carries under Staley have averaged at least 4.0 yards per carry under Duce. Nine of them have averaged at least 4.3 yards per carry. The Eagles haven’t had a back with 550 yards in consecutive years since Shady, yet the Eagles always seem to run the ball well. The guy’s really good.

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