Is it time for a new play caller? Thoughts on Jalen Reagor through five games? Will the Colts bench their quarterback?
It’s 10 Random Eagles Observations on a short week going into a Thursday night game against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
1. The most infuriating part of Nick Sirianni’s refusal to run the football is that the Eagles are really, really good at it. Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell, the only Eagles backs to get a carry this year, are averaging 4.94 yards per carry, which is 4th-highest in the league among RBs, behind only the Cowboys (5.59), Browns (5.55) and Jaguars (5.36). Yet Eagles backs have only 69 carries – 13.8 per game, by far the fewest in the NFL and also the fewest in Eagles history through five games. Including QB runs (because it’s the only way to calculate this), the Eagles are averaging 5.2 yards per carry but only 22.6 carries per game. That’s the highest rushing average in NFL history by a team averaging fewer than 23 carries through five games.
2. It’s been five games, and I’m just about at the point where if Sirianni’s play calling doesn’t improve in the next week or two I want someone else in there. I'm not quite there yet but I'm getting close. Sirianni spoke last month about all the capable play callers on his staff – he mentioned Jim Bob Cooter, Shane Steichen, Kevin Patullo, Jason Michael and Brian Johnson and even Jeff Stoutland. There’s no shame in letting someone else handle play calling. Andy Reid gave those duties to Marty Mornhinweg a few times, and Big Red spoke about how it not only gave the offense a fresh approach but it freed him up to focus on all the other game-day decisions a head coach has to make. And it’s not just pass-run ratio that’s the issue but just play calling in general. Red zone. Getting everybody involved. Being unpredictable. Attacking down the field. Getting Jalen Hurts in a rhythm early. Those things aren’t happening consistently enough right now.
3. And for those who believe the running game is obsolete and unnecessary in the modern NFL because the game has changed so much, consider this: NFL teams are averaging 26.3 rushing plays per game this year. In 1991 – 30 years ago – that figure was 27.4 carries per game. That’s one fewer carry per game per team. Passing games are more elaborate and high-powered and teams are also averaging four more pass plays per game. But the NFL hasn’t changed so much that you can win with no running game.
4. Ryan Kerrigan has played 137 snaps. He has a tackle.
5. Disappointed so far in Jalen Reagor. Was hoping for a lot more in Year 2. But he’s down from 36 yards per game to 28 and 12.8 yards per catch to 8.2 and after catching three passes of at least 30 yards last year, he doesn’t have anything longer than a 24-yarder this year. It seems like his role has been reduced to catching dink and dunks with the hope that he can break a few tackles. Which he hasn’t done for the most part. He’s not even seeing No. 1 corners anymore, because they’re mostly on DeVonta Smith. Not trending in the right direction.
6. No way the Colts are going to bench their quarterback before he hits 75 percent of the snaps just to protect their 1st-round pick. For Brett Hundley or Jacob Eason? As long as he’s playing well and giving the team a chance to win – which he’s been doing – he’s going to play. Any coach that makes a move that significantly damages a team’s chance to win is going to lose the locker room overnight, and Frank Reich knows that. You can’t operate a franchise that way. Plus, even at 1-4 the Colts are in a division where they’re likely to be in the hunt deep into the season. And their schedule gets much easier, too. At their current pace, the Colts are on pace to play 1,169 snaps this year. The QB would have to play 877 of them to turn that 2nd-round pick into a 1st-round pick. He’s already at 339. So eight more games gets it done. Guy in Indy is at 65 percent accuracy, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 99.4 passer rating. He’s not getting benched in the next eight weeks.
7. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts has thrown an interception every 47 pass attempts in his career. Out of 105 quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 300 passes before their 24th birthday, that’s the 10th-best interception ratio.
8. The plan with Lane Johnson out is to line up Andre Dillard at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Jack Driscoll at right guard and Jordan Mailata at right tackle. You could make a case to keep Mailata at left tackle – where he was developing into one of the best in the league – with Dickerson, Kelce, Nate Herbig at right guard and Driscoll at right tackle. But even though it’s not best for Mailata’s long-term development, this is the strongest o-line the Eagles can run out there. And Mailata will continue to grow at RT as long as he’s there. Herbig is fine at right guard and Driscoll is solid wherever you put him, but the way Dillard is playing he needs to stay at LT. Plus the last thing this o-line needs after starting 18 different lines in 21 games is more change. Mailata will be a left tackle long-term, but for now this makes the most sense.
9. Tom Brady in his 20s and 30s: 97.2 passer rating, 260 yards per game, 64 percent completion percentage, 3.0 TDs per INT. Tom Brady in his 40s: 98.5 passer rating, 281 yards per game, 65 percent completion percentage, 3.4 TDs per INT.
10. Jason Kelce missed four games in 2014 with a sports hernia, returning for a Nov. 2 game against the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston. That was nearly seven years ago. Since then he’s played 116 consecutive games at an incredibly physical position at an all-pro level as an undersized center while shrugging off every nagging injury you can imagine. It’s a truly remarkable streak and to put it in perspective, the next-longest current streak in the NFL by an interior lineman is 73 by Browns center J.C. Tretter, who comes to the Linc this week. Kelce has him beat by 43 games, or more than 2 ½ seasons. What’s really remarkable is that Kelce’s streak has come during a period when just about everybody else on the roster has gotten hurt. The next longest consecutive games streak by an Eagles position player? Alex Singleton with 32 in a row. The next-longest streak of consecutive starts? Javon Hargrave with 15 in a row. Kelce is amazing.
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