Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Picking the 1st 2020 starter to get demoted

Eagles mailbag: Picking the 1st 2020 starter to get demoted

As always, thanks for all your great questions. I answered the first bunch yesterday and will get to the rest today. 

I hope everyone is having a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend. 

Let’s go! 

This is an interesting question and there were two positions that came to mind first: Cornerback and safety. 

Let’s start with corner. For now, it seems like Avonte Maddox is the starter penciled into the CB2 spot. He hasn’t won that job yet, but he’ll probably get the first crack at it during training camp this summer. I think Sidney Jones has a chance to win the job but if he can’t, I wonder how long Maddox’s leash would be. 

And at safety, Jalen Mills will get the first chance to start at Malcolm Jenkins’ old spot next to Rodney McLeod, but the Eagles also signed Will Parks and drafted K’Von Wallace. Because of the potential to rotate, I’m not sure this would be a benching as much as it would be a phasing out. We have no idea how Mills will handle this new role and if he struggles, there seem to be two viable options behind him in Parks and Wallace. 

The answer here is second-year player T.J. Edwards, who had a somewhat minimal role as an undrafted rookie in 2019. Edwards isn’t the most athletic specimen, but he’s smart and instinctive and does everything the coaching staff asks of him. In my mind, the three starters for now are Edwards, Nathan Gerry and Jatavis Brown. I think the top two are clearly Gerry and Edwards. Davion Taylor was a third-round pick, but he needs a lot of polishing, so he might be more of a special teams contributor in Year 1. 

https://twitter.com/MDonnell93/status/1263860410643558407

I do not. Now, if Wentz were to get seriously hurt to the point where the Eagles really couldn’t rely on him or he decided to step away from football, I guess it’s possible. But I think Wentz will be the Eagles’ quarterback for at least the next 5-6 years; he’s their long-term starter. That makes Hurts a backup for most of his time in Philly. 

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last couple months. As long as Jason Peters doesn’t have a job, there’s still a possibility that he could return to the Eagles. Now, Doug Pederson’s strong endorsement of Andre Dillard last week was notable. Pederson’s comments on Dillard were as strong as anyone’s so far (see story). 

I’m starting to envision a scenario where we get into training camp and the Eagles see how Dillard looks. If he looks stronger and ready to hold down the left tackle spot, great. If not, they can hope Peters still needs a job and give him a call. What I just can’t see is bringing Peters back as Dillard’s backup. 

I think there’s a good chance of that. I know they have cross-trained Mailata some at right tackle but it might make sense to have him be the backup left tackle and draft pick Jack Driscoll work as the backup right tackle. In the past, the Eagles have used a swing tackle, meaning they back up either side, but in this situation, it might behoove them to specify positions. 

Hey, third question isn’t bad! It is a little strange right now. The way these Zoom calls are working is when we have a question, we use the raise hand feature and then the PR staff picks the person to call on. These calls don’t have much flow because of the format, which also means the chance for natural follow-up questions isn’t there. But it’s a little less chaotic than the typical question face-offs at the NovaCare Complex. 

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A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones, an unbelievable Sam Bradford stat and the continuing saga of Reb Russell.

It's all right here in this weekend's Roob's 10 Eagles Observations! 

1. I keep trying to convince myself, "This will be the year we see the real Sidney Jones." And coming out of last year, I really believed Jones, going into Year 4, had a chance to really get his legs healthy this spring and then show everybody in minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games that he could hold down the CB2 opposite Darius Slay. But if the curtailed offseason and preseason hurts anybody the most, it's Jones. The Eagles have made it clear Avonte Maddox is the projected starter, and as long Maddox stays healthy I don't see how Sidney can win the job. Without any spring workouts or preseason games? Can Jones do enough just in a few weeks of training camp practice to beat out Maddox? I don't think so.

2. Who has the highest 4th-quarter passer rating among Eagles quarterbacks? Going back to 1994, as far back as the Pro Football Reference database logs quarter-by-quarter stats, here's the surprising answer (minimum of 100 4th-quarter attempts):

95.9 ... Sam Bradford

88.4 ... Michael Vick

84.5 ... Carson Wentz

83.6 ... Donovan McNabb

81.9 ... Nick Foles

76.9 ... Rodney Peele

76.7 ... Mark Sanchez

70.3 ... Ty Detmer

64.1 ... Bobby Hoying

62.7 ... Randall Cunningham

59.0 ... Koy Detmer 

(Remember, this only includes Randall's last two years with the Eagles) 

3. As good as T.O. was in 2004, he was on his way to an even bigger season in 2005 before he imploded and got himself suspended. Owens was 47-for-763 with 6 TDs after seven games, which put him on pace for 107 catches and 1,744 yards with 13 TDs. The only players in NFL history to reach those plateaus in a season are Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce. T.O.'s 93.5 yards per game as an Eagle is 23 yards per game more than any other WR in franchise history. DeSean Jackson (69.7), Mike Quick (64.0), Irving Fryar (63.9) and Jeremy Maclin (63.6) are next.

4. If the NFL does wind up reducing rosters from 90 to 75 because of the curtailed or eliminated preseason and for social distancing purposes, the league needs to give each team the opportunity to retain the rights of some or all of the players they're forced to release. Maybe pay them a weekly reduced salary and let them participate in virtual meetings and remain part of the team without actually being at practice. It would be a shame to see the Eagles forced to cut ties with promising kids like Adrian Killians Jr., Grayland Arnold, Raequan Williams, Mike Warren, Sua Opeta or Deontay Burnett because of the current circumstances. The league and the NFLPA need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen.

5. I just remembered the Eagles paid Nelson Agholor $9.387 million last year.

6. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship, but by the early 1930s, they may have been the worst professional sports team in Philadelphia history. They won only 3 of their last 24 games and scored 7 or fewer points in 20 of those 24 games. 

7. What are the odds that the Eagles' two recent Hall of Famers — Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael — went to the same high school? Both graduated from Raines High in Jacksonville. Raines has produced numerous other NFL players, including Lito Sheppard, Shawn Jefferson and Ken Burrough, along with baseball's Vince Coleman. Surprisingly, 16 high schools produced multiple Hall of Famers, including one — George Washington in L.A. — that produced three (James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Bill Walsh). 

8. Carson Wentz's 32 wins are 15th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. He's also one of only five of the top 20 that didn't win a playoff game during those four years. The others are Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Steve Grogan, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Ryan won one in his 5th season, Manning in his 6th and Palmer in his 14th. Dalton and Grogan never did win one. One of these years, Wentz will win one. Right?

9. Donovan McNabb had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games by the end of his fourth season.

10. Everyone seemed to enjoy last week's excerpt from newspaper coverage of the Eagles' first game in franchise history in 1933, so here's an excerpt from the Inquirer story reporting the first win in franchise history, 6-0 over the Reds later in 1933: 

"Tall, slab-sided, loose-limbed Swede Hanson, the new Galloping Ghost of the commercial gridiron, raced over the last white stripe today, as the Philadelphia Eagles achieved their first conquest of the season, 6-0. Hanson, lean and lank and lantern jawed, was the hero of this game, as he has starred in all of the frays in which the Eagles have been a part. For two periods, the Birds and their Red foes battered away at the line or sought the air but all in vain. In the third quarter, however, the Wraymen turned into a devastating horde." 

The story goes on to describe Hanson's touchdown, the game's only score: 

"It was fourth down now and the goal line beckoning in tantalizing fashion straight ahead. Then Hanson and (Reb) Russell outwtitted their foes. Reb came tearing in as if to shoot off tackle. The Reds tumbled through upon the former Purple hero, however, who was ready for this emergency. As the gang tried to pile up, Russell flipped a lateral, straight and unerring, right into Hanson's arms. Like a flash, the Swede lighted out for the end, slipped past two tackles and went over the line."

Wraymen? Really? Remember, that team's coach was Lud Wray. Guess I should start calling the Eagles the Dougmen?

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Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Just two days after we learned the NFL’s plan to cut the 2020 preseason in half, the NFL Players Association is reportedly recommending that the league cancel the entire preseason. 

The NFLPA’s board of representatives voted unanimously on the recommendation, according to ESPN. 

On Wednesday, ProFootballTalk reported that the NFL was cutting the preseason in half because of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping Weeks 2 and 3 but eliminating Weeks 1 and 4. Other reports indicated that those preseason games would be pushed back later into August. 

If the Eagles end up playing the original Weeks 2 and 3 of their preseason schedule, they will face the Dolphins on the road and the Patriots at home. They were originally scheduled to be at Indianapolis in Week 1 and at home against the Jets in Week 4, but those games have already been canceled. 

The NFL is still planning for training camps to begin on July 28 with rookies and select vets allowed to report earlier. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said earlier this offseason that his team will need the entire five-to-six-week training camp to get ready for the 2020 season, especially after missing the entire spring workout schedule because of the pandemic. 

The Eagles are scheduled to begin their 2020 regular season in Washington on Sept. 13. 

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