Eagles fans, Super Bowl weirdness, and more in Roob's observations

Eagles fans, Super Bowl weirdness, and more in Roob's observations

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Harmon Killebrew, spaghetti, NFC East quarterbacks, Brian Mitchell, Buddy Ryan vs. Doug Pederson and greased lamp poles.

Super Bowl LII keeps getting closer and Roob's 10 random Eagles Super Bowl observations keep getting random-er.

1. Vinny Curry was talking Wednesday about all the dumb questions he's been asked by various fringe media during the week. "Somebody asked me, 'Do you like spaghetti?' Seriously? That's your question? You come out to cover the Super Bowl and all you can think of is do I like spaghetti?" How did he answer? "I told her, 'We play in South Philadelphia. How could I not like spaghetti?'"

2. The Mall of America, the NFL's headquarters during Super Bowl week, was built in the early 1990s on the site of Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Twins and Vikings from 1961 through 1981. In 1967, Twins Hall of Famer Killebrew hit a legendary 520-foot home run to left-center field off Lew Burdette of the Angels. When the Mall of America was built, Killebrew's home run was commemorated in the amusement park in the center of the massive mall with the actual chair that the ball hit mounted high up on the wall above a log flume ride — the exact spot where the titanic shot landed. I can't tell you how much I love this.

Reuben Frank/NBC Sports Philadelphia

3. Somebody asked Duce Staley Wednesday about how Philly authorities greased the lamp poles so fans couldn't climb them if the Eagles beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. Here's his response: "You’re actually inviting fans when you say, 'You can’t do it.' Because our fans, the way they think, if you tell them you can't go up there, it just makes them think, ‘OK, how can we get up there.’ They’ll find a way to do it." Some people get it, some people don't. Staley gets it (more on that here).

4. The makeup of Pederson's coaching staff is really interesting to me. No less than six of Pederson's assistants — running backs coach Staley, tight ends coach Justin Peelle, special teams coach Dave Fipp, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, assistant special teams coach Matt Harper and offensive quality control coach Press Taylor — were all here under Chip Kelly. Pederson kept them all. He also kept director of sports science Shaun Huls and director of strength and conditioning Josh Hingst. A lot of head coaches as a rule don't keep any incumbent assistants. Some keep one or two. Pederson kept eight, including the strength guys. I've never heard of that before. But here they all are, part of a Super Bowl staff. This is a tremendous teaching staff, I think equal to Andy Reid's legendary 1999 staff that included seven future NFL head coaches. Give Pederson credit for having an open mind with Kelly's guys and not just coming in and cleaning house. It doesn't matter where you find good coaches as long as you find them.

5. Think about the quarterbacks in the NFC East. The Giants have 37-year-old Eli Manning, who hasn't won a playoff game since 2011. The Redskins have 33-year-old Alex Smith, who's won two playoff games in 13 years. The Cowboys have Dak Prescott, who's never won a playoff game. The Eagles? They have an MVP candidate and a guy who's about to start a Super Bowl. You can really make a case that the Eagles have the two best QBs in the division.

6. I really like the matchup between the Eagles' running attack and the Patriots' subpar run defense. The Patriots allowed 4.7 yards per carry during the regular season, second worst in the league. But it's interesting to note that the first 14 weeks of the regular season, that number was 4.9 — by far the worst in the league during that span — and the last four weeks, it went all the way down to 2.9, which was second best in the NFL over the last two regular-season weeks and the postseason. I still like the matchup. I think the Eagles' backs and O-line can wear down that New England defensive front. But Bill Belichick is the best defensive coach ever for a reason, and he has an uncanny ability to turn weaknesses into strengths.

7. There's only one quarterback at the Super Bowl who completed 82 percent of his passes in any game this year. Not Carson Wentz. Not Tom Brady. Not Nick Foles. Yep, it was Nate Sudfeld. Went 19 for 23 (82.6 percent) in his NFL debut against the Cowboys.

8. It still baffles me that Ryan was so wildly popular among Eagles fans, and watching Pederson this year has only reinforced the notion that Ryan just had no clue what he was doing. He neglected the offensive line for years. He constantly insulted players. He made fun of the owner and co-workers. He created a culture where the scouting and coaching staffs disliked and distrusted each other. A culture where insults were levied more often than compliments, where guys on the two sides of the football were constantly bickering, where some valuable, productive players were seen as outcasts just because Ryan didn't like them. Everything Pederson has done Ryan failed to do. Everything Pederson stands for Ryan ignored. No wonder Ryan didn't win a single playoff game despite a roster that included Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Jerome Brown, Andre Waters, Eric Allen, Byron Evans, Wes Hopkins, Randall Cunningham, Keith Jackson and Keith Byars. Yet Pederson loses Wentz, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos, Jason Peters and Darren Sproles and gets to a Super Bowl. In Pederson's world, everyone likes and respects each other and works well together. It's a winning formula.

9. Ran into Mitchell Wednesday night, and he recalled a conversation with an elderly woman at a small grocery store near his apartment at 19th and Chestnut soon after he signed with the Eagles in 2000 after 10 exceptional years with the Redskins: "I'll never forget it. She said to me, 'You better do for us what you did against us.' My whole career with the Eagles I thought about that. Every game I played in an Eagles uniform, I thought about what she said … 'You better do for us what you did against us.'" And he did. Mitchell had four return TDs in his three years with the Eagles. Only Timmy Brown has ever had more combined punt and kick return TDs in an Eagles uniform.

10. Mind-boggling Nick Foles Stat of the Day: Foles has more playoff wins since 2012 than every other quarterback in the NFC East combined.

Eagle Eye: Eagles facing a unique situation with Darren Sproles

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Eagle Eye: Eagles facing a unique situation with Darren Sproles

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Darren Sproles' upcoming retirement. Does it put the Eagles in an awkward position on game days? Why do players care so much about their ratings in Madden? Also, Barrett shares how he decided on his jersey numbers throughout his football career?

1:00 - Derrick is back! What did he do with his time off?
5:30 - Barrett spent time with his grandson ... who ate pancakes with ketchup.
10:00 - Darren Sproles says 2018 will be his final year.
15:00 - Why do players care so much about their Madden ratings?
19:30 - If you can script your career, how would you want to retire?
22:30 - How did Barrett decide on his jersey numbers?

Subscribe and rate Eagle Eye: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

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Howie Roseman using what he learned from Andy Reid

One thing Andy Reid was spot on about during his long tenure with the Eagles was the importance of building around both lines. 

Big Red always made the offensive and defensive lines a priority, and during the Eagles’ stretch of deep playoff runs — from 2000 through 2009 — the O-line was anchored by guys like Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Todd Herremans and the D-line by Corey Simon, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson and Hugh Douglas.

During that 10-year stretch, the Eagles had the most wins in the NFC and the third-most wins in the NFL, and the one constant during that stretch was solid line play. 

Donovan McNabb was very good when healthy most of those seasons, and the Eagles always had good running backs and corners, but the heart of those teams was up front.

Just look at how Big Red drafted. Eight of his 11 first-round picks were linemen. After taking McNabb in 1999, all six of Reid's picks in the first half of the first round were linemen.

They obviously didn’t all work out, but Reid was committed to both lines, and Howie Roseman, then a young, rising personnel executive, was paying attention.

The Eagles have done a lot of things differently in the five years since Reid's final season here, but one thing Doug Pederson and Roseman believe in is building around the lines, and it sure paid off last year.

According to figures on salary cap website Spotrac, the Eagles in 2017 were the only team ranked among the top five in the NFL in both offensive line and defensive line spending.

And the only team that had a parade in February.

And they’re only going to spend more this year.

The Eagles will spend 22.36 percent of their 2018 cap money on the offensive line, fourth most in the league, and 28.84 percent to the defensive line, fifth most.

That’s more than half their 2018 payroll on the big guys up front.

The Jets — sixth in O-line spending, 10th in D-line — are the only other team in the top 10 in both.

Seven of the Eagles’ 10 highest-paid players last year were linemen, as are eight of their 13 projected highest-paid players in 2018.

And five of those guys — Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Vinny Curry and Jason Peters — are actually holdovers from the Reid era.

Think of them as Reid’s parting gifts to the 2017 championship team.

Creating a Super Bowl roster was a complicated process for Roseman, and to be able to make this sort of financial commitment to the two lines means you just don’t have much money left for everything else. 

The only way to make that work is to build with cheap labor elsewhere. 

And that means younger players on bargain-basement rookie contracts, cheap but productive quarterbacks and low-round picks and undrafted players with cheapo contracts excelling.

It means drafting well and making exceptional free-agent decisions without overspending.

It’s a crazy juggling act, and Roseman juggled all those things magnificentely last year.

In fact, according to Spotrac’s data, the two lines are the Eagles' only positional groups ranked even among the top 15 in the NFL.

The secondary and QB positions rank 16th in cap allocations, tight end 18th, running back 21st, wide receiver 27th, linebacker 31st and special teams 32nd.

These numbers are all based on the 53 highest-paid players currently under contract, so they will change slightly once the final roster is set, but they won’t change much.

The Eagles were very good in a lot of areas last year — really, in every area — but their offensive line was the best in football and the best in Eagles history, and the defensive line was easily one of the two- or three-best in football.

Everything the Eagles did, everything they accomplished, started up front.

Put Peters back on the O-line and add Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett to the D-line with an increased role for Derek Barnett, and both lines could conceivably be even better this year.

It’s going to get harder for Roseman to keep paying the Eagles’ linemen the way he has. Once Carson Wentz signs his next contract, the Eagles’ entire salary cap balance will change. 

Those $25 million annual cap hits for one guy have a tendency to make roster decisions way more challenging.

So it will be tricky for the Eagles to re-sign Graham. He wants a fortune, and he deserves a fortune. 

But even if Roseman can’t get that done, Barnett has three more years on his rookie deal, and that’s the key to making this whole thing work. 

You can’t re-sign everybody, so if you want to remain elite, you have to draft well so you can replace the people you invariably lose.

You lose Patrick Robinson, you have Sidney Jones waiting. You lose LeGarrette Blount, there’s Corey Clement ready to go. You lose Mychal Kendricks, you hope a Nate Gerry can contribute. Trey Burton leaves, and Dallas Goedert is cheaper and better.

You get what you pay for. And the Eagles right now are paying for the best in the business.

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