Eagles

Eagles-Bears: Roob's 10 observations

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Eagles-Bears: Roob's 10 observations

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They are so methodical, so thorough, so dominating right now it's almost like we're all dreaming, isn't it?

With their latest blowout win — 31-3 over the Bears Sunday at the Linc — the Eagles became only the fourth NFL team in the last 64 years to win four straight games by 23 or more points (see breakdown).

They gave up six rushing yards to the NFL's fifth-ranked rushing offense. That's the fewest rushing yards they've allowed in the last 71 years.

Their 24-year-old quarterback now has 28 touchdowns and five interceptions (see report card). Since Week 5, that's 22 TDs and three INTs. 

They're 10-1 with a nine-game winning streak, the last five by double digits.

They're annihilating people.

So let's go to Roob's 10 Observations and take a look at yet another blowout Eagles win!

1. What we're seeing right now is just flat-out scary. Honestly, I don't know how anybody is going to beat this team. I know the Patriots, Vikings and Saints are all really good, and there are some other capable teams out there, but the Eagles are just destroying teams right now, and I just don't see a weakness when I watch them. How do you beat a team that can score at will and isn't allowing its opponents to even breathe on offense? The Eagles have taken this thing to another level, winning these last four by an average of 27 points and allowing just three offensive touchdowns along the way. It's just such a pleasure watching football played like this. Aggressive. Unselfish. Physical. Disciplined. There's something special going on here, and, man, is it fun to watch.

2. What we're seeing from Carson Wentz right now is just off the charts. With all due respect to Donovan McNabb, he's playing at an unprecedented level in Eagles history. These last seven games, Wentz has 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions. That's in less than half a season. This is a 24-year-old kid. He's playing virtually perfect football every Sunday, and the stats, records and numbers are piling up faster than we can keep track of. But all he cares about winning, and the effect he's had on this team is remarkable. To see veteran guys like LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Alshon Jeffery, guys who've been stars with other teams, come here and just follow Wentz's lead is eye-opening. He commands that locker room and leads so naturally and effortlessly. The Eagles are playing with a lot of passion and joy right now, and it all starts with No. 11. He's just on another level right now.

3. One significant development over the last few weeks has been a gradually improving chemistry between Wentz and Jeffery. The last few weeks, Jeffery has really started to look like a No. 1 receiver. He's not putting up huge numbers, but he's distanced himself from the other wideouts as far as targets, production and just being that guy Wentz is looking for at big moments more than any of the other wide receivers. Also great to see Zach Ertz rebound with a huge game — 10 catches for 103 yards and his seventh touchdown. He's been a beast this year.

4. I was curious to see this matchup between the Bears' fifth-ranked rushing attack — averaging 132 yards per game entering Sunday — and an Eagles run defense that went into the game No. 1 in the NFL, allowing 71 yards per game. And wow. The Bears were under zero yards until a late 11-yard scramble by Mitch Trubisky. But even with that, they finished with 14 carries for six yards. That's the fewest rushing yards the Eagles have allowed in a game since 1946. You just can't run on this team. And then you have to chuck it, and that plays right into the hands of their pass rush and secondary. Six rushing yards? It's nuts.

5. Gotta give some props to Brandon Graham, who recorded his career-high seventh sack. Graham, now in his eighth year with the Eagles, has been through so much here but injects this defense with so much energy and life and passion. He came into the league as an under-sized pass-rushing specialist, but he's now really become a two-way player, the Eagles' best pass rusher on the outside and a willing and effective run stopper, too.

6. Doug Pederson has handled everything beautifully this year, but his handling of a potentially difficult running back situation has been brilliant. He has such an innate feel for what situations and plays are best suited to the different backs, and he's managed to keep them all happy and thinking team-first. Blount led the NFL in touchdowns last year. Ajayi was a Pro Bowler. But they've suppressed their egos, and whether those guys are getting the carries or Corey Clement or even Kenjon Barner, they're all supportive of each other and they're all genuinely happy for each other. I think it all starts with Blount. There were some questions about the guy when he got here, but he's been nothing but a team player here, and the other backs, the younger guys, just follow along. And Blount is running the ball great, too. 

7. The Eagles' defense allowed one touchdown in November. 

8. We don't spend much time talking about position coaches, but the improvement we've seen in every position group since last year, and ever since, the start of this year speaks volumes about the hands-on work being done at practice and in meetings by guys like Duce Staley, Mike Groh, Cory Undlin, Chris Wilson, John DeFilippo, Ken Flajole and the others. One of the underrated keys to the Eagles' initial success under Andy Reid from 2000-2004 was Big Red's first staff — position coaches like Ron Rivera, John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Pat Shurmur, Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier, all of whom became NFL head coaches. This is the same sort of staff. Very hands-on, extremely engaged, tremendously respected in the locker room. And in a few years, several of these guys will be NFL head coaches as well. 

9. These next two games are going to be fascinating. The Seahawks have always been unbeatable at home, but they're not quite the same team anymore. And the Rams have been one of the NFL's hottest teams all year. But I think the Eagles win both games on this West Coast trip and get back to Philly 12-1 with only the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys standing between them and a 15-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Beat the Seahawks and Rams, and the road to the Super Bowl will go right through the Linc.

10. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Brent Celek. He didn't catch a pass Sunday, but he did something much more meaningful. By playing in his 170th career game, Celek gained the distinction of playing in more games than anybody in franchise history who's never worn another uniform. Coming into the game, Celek was tied with Chuck Bednarik at 169. Celek, the only guy on the team who's played in a postseason win in an Eagles uniform, has represented that uniform and this franchise with so much class over the past 11 years. If anybody deserves to spend his entire career in Philadelphia, it's Celek. 

Based on history, look for Eagles to draft a lineman first again

Based on history, look for Eagles to draft a lineman first again

Since 1991, the Eagles have had 25 first-round draft picks.

Three receivers. Two quarterbacks. One cornerback.

And 19 linemen.

This is Howie Roseman’s philosophy. It’s Joe Douglas’s philosophy. It was Andy Reid and Tom Heckert’s philosophy and, even before Big Red got here, it was Tom Modrak’s philosophy.

Build up the lines first.

And nobody has done it more than the Eagles.

Since 1991, the Eagles have drafted more linemen in the first round than any other team.

They’ve taken 11 defensive linemen — tied for most in the league during the last 28 drafts — and they’ve taken eight offensive linemen, third-most behind the Seahawks and Lions.

The most combined linemen?

19 … Eagles [8 OL, 11 DL]
17 … 49ers [6 OL, 11 DL]
16 … Rams [6 OL, 10 DL]
14 … Seahawks [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Lions [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Saints [6 OL, 8 DL]
13 … Patriots [6 OL, 7 DL]
13 … Cardinals [6 OL, 7 DL]
12 … Jets [2 OL, 10 DL]
12 … Buccaneers [3 OL, 9 DL]
12 … Vikings [8 OL, 4 DL]

The only non-linemen the Eagles have taken in the first round since 1991?

Quarterbacks Donovan McNabb in 19991 and Carson Wentz in 2016, both with the No. 2 pick. Receivers Freddie Mitchell in 2001, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and Nelson Agholor in 2015. And cornerback Lito Sheppard in 2002.

And you know what? There’s a good chance they’ll take another one this year at No. 25.

Much of the rest of the league has adopted the Andy Reid philosophy to build up the lines first and then fill in the blanks.

Most mocks drafts have 17 to 19 linemen going in the first round this year — more than half.

During Roseman’s years as general manager — 2010 through 2018, minus 2015 — the Eagles have taken four defensive linemen (Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett), two offensive linemen (Danny Watkins, Lane Johnson) and Wentz.

With picks in the first half of the draft?

The only non-linemen since 1989 are McNabb and Wentz.

You’re always a product of the people you’re around, and just growing up in this environment and this system and where coach Reid was and someone that really put a huge emphasis on that, it was something that stuck," Roseman said. "We won a lot of games with that philosophy. We try to study what other teams are doing, what successful teams are doing, and you see, it’s important obviously to build along the lines and sometimes you say that, but you have to reflect it also with your actions.

Roseman first joined the Eagles in 2000 as a salary cap intern, so he was around Reid from Corey Simon through Cox.

And Douglas, Roseman’s No. 1 adviser and the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, shares his philosophy to build from the inside out:

Joe and I, when we started talking about building teams, it was quickly apparent that we believe in the same things. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements on certain players, that doesn’t mean there are other things that we kind of see differently because of his background and how he was raised in this business, but that adds to it.

The first round of this draft is jam-packed with talented defensive, and there are some very good o-line prospects as well.

The Eagles don’t generally draft for need, but of their five projected 2019 offensive line starters and four projected d-line starters, only Isaac Seumalo will be under 29 when OTAs start next month.

So you can hope for a receiver, a running back or a cornerback. Based on what we know about Howie? Based on recent history? Based on what just may make the most sense?

It’ll be a lineman. Again.

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Eagles open as big favorites over Washington in Week 1

Eagles open as big favorites over Washington in Week 1

If you quickly thought “W” when you saw the Eagles were hosting Washington at the Linc to open up the 2019 regular season, you’re not the only one. 

The Eagles opened up as eight-point favorites on FanDuel. That’s pretty consistent with other sports books too. I’ve also seen them at 8 1/2. 

That eight-point spread is the biggest of Week 1 in the NFL, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. Maybe if Washington trades for Josh Rosen, that changes. Maybe if they draft a quarterback in the first round, that changes. But for now? That seems about right. 

Washington fell apart last year, but the Eagles beat them 28-13 in Week 13 and 24-0 in Week 17. In the last two seasons, the Eagles are 4-0 against the Skins and have beaten them by an average of 15 1/2 points per game. If that continues, they'll cover easily. 

Elsewhere in NFL Week 1, the Seahawks are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Bengals, the Cowboys are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Giants and the Saints are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Texans. Those three favorites are also at home. 

Taking a quick look at FanDuel’s futures odds, the Eagles are tied for the seventh-longest odds to win the Super Bowl at +1,600. That means if you bet $100, you’d win $1,600. 

Here are current Super Bowl odds: 

Patriots: +700
Chiefs: +800
Saints: +850
Rams: +900
Browns: +1400
Chargers: +1400
Bears: +1600
Colts: +1600
Eagles: +1600
Packers: +1800
Vikings: +2000
Steelers: +2000
Cowboys: +2300
Falcons: +2600
Texans: +2800
Seahawks: +2900
49ers: +3000
Jaguars: +3300
Ravens: +3400
Panthers: +5000
Titans: +5000
Raiders: +5500
Broncos: +6000
Giants: +6000
Jets: +6000
Buccaneers: +6000
Bills: +8000
Lions: +8000
Redskins: +8000
Bengals: +10000
Cardinals: +11000
Dolphins: +12000

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