A look back at the Eagles' historically bad 1998 offense, my Eagles Mount Rushmore and why Jalen Hurts will almost certainly be the Eagles' starting quarterback after this year.
It's this week's Roob's 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations.
1. I understand that the biggest narrative around the 2022 season is going to be: “Will Jalen Hurts play well enough to be the Eagles’ quarterback after this season?” That’s not going to change. But when you think about it, it’s tough to actually imagine a scenario where he’s not the Eagles’ QB beyond this year. First of all, it’s awfully likely that with Hurts’ tireless work ethic, a second year in the same offense for the first time since high school and the upgraded weapons he’ll have at his disposal, he’s going to improve to some degree, make better decisions and become a more consistent and accurate passer. He’s 23, and he’s always shown improvement. Why would that stop? And he already had a measure of success in his first year as a starter, going 8-7, reducing his turnovers dramatically from his rookie year, generating 26 total touchdowns and 199 first downs — both among the top 16 in the league — and becoming the youngest quarterback ever to start a playoff game for the Eagles. And if Hurts does improve, where are you going to find someone better? Even Howie Roseman’s draft-day wizardry won’t land C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young. Are you going to trade valuable picks to acquire a veteran or sign a free agent? The Eagles don’t operate that way. Plus how often do quality veteran QBs even hit the market? Do you really think Lamar Jackson is going to be available? No way. Is someone like Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo really going to be an upgrade? Nah. Now, if Hurts regresses and doesn’t build on the promise he showed in 2021, there will be no contract extension and the Eagles will have no choice but to scramble and go get a quarterback. But I just feel like that’s unlikely. Howie has done everything imaginable to surround Hurts with players who can help him succeed, he’s got a year of experience under his belt and I just don’t think a big-time regression is going to happen. It’s possible. But there just aren’t many scenarios where Hurts isn’t the Eagles’ quarterback moving forward.
2. Donovan McNabb is the only quarterback in Eagles history to win a playoff game before his 28th birthday. Ron Jaworski and Nick Foles were 28, Randall Cunningham and Rodney Peete were 29, Tommy Thompson was 31, Norm Van Brocklin was 34 and Jeff Garcia was 36.
3. The Eagles scored 17 touchdowns in 1998. All year. Seven passing, 10 rushing. Only five teams have scored fewer TDs in a season since the NFL went to 16 games in 1978. Only two teams have had fewer passing TDs. That 1998 Eagles team won three games — each with a different QB. Koy Detmer beat the Rams, Peete beat Washington and Bobby Hoying beat the Lions. Those three threw for 387 yards in the three wins combined. The 1998 Eagles are one of only three teams in history to play 16 games and never score more than 21 points. They averaged 10 points per game.
4. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts had 29 runs of 10 yards or more last year. Only Jonathan Taylor (50), Nick Chubb (41) and Dalvin Cook (36) had more. That’s the most double-digit runs by any Eagle in a season since LeSean McCoy had 34 in 2014.
5. The Eagles’ 1993 free agent class: Tim Harris (three years, $4.7 million), Erik McMillan (three years, $3.8 million), Michael Carter (one year, $500,000), Mark Bavaro (two years, $2.2 million) and Keith Millard (one year, $500,000). All former Pro Bowlers. Harris played four games as an Eagle and didn’t record a sack. McMillan played six games and was released halfway through the season. Carter retired a week after signing. Bavaro actually caught 43 passes on knees that forced him to retire a year later. Millard started six games in his final NFL season. At least they drafted Lester Holmes and Leonard Renfro in the first round. Yikes.
6. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is an incredible place, jammed with fascinating displays chronicling the history of the game, priceless artifacts from throughout NFL history and interactive exhibits that bring legendary players and teams to life. But the Hall virtually ignores the 1948 and 1949 Eagles teams, the only teams in NFL history to win consecutive NFL Championships via shutout. I don’t get it. The Hall does such a terrific job for the most part, but ignoring one of the greatest two-year runs in the game’s century-long history is a massive oversight.
7. We all say how the NFL is such a passing league these days, but has it really changed that much? As far back as 1989 — 33 years ago — NFL teams averaged 32 pass attempts, 211 passing yards and 1.3 TD passes per game. This past season, those numbers were 35 pass attempts, 228 passing yards and 1.5 TDs per game. Those are very small increases over three and a half decades. What has changed significantly since 1989 is completion percentage (56 percent to 65 percent) and interception percentage (one every 25 passes in 1989, one every 42 this past season). It’s always been a passing league. It’s just a far more efficient one these days.
8. When the Eagles beat the Cards 7-0 to win the 1948 NFL Championship Game in a blizzard at Shibe Park, Eagles QB Tommy Thompson was 2-for-12 for 10 yards, no TDs, two INTs and a 0.0 passer rating. He’s the only QB in NFL history to win a postseason game with a 0.0 passer rating.
9. Lot of questions in the past couple weeks about the Eagles’ Mount Rushmore. It’s not easy. The way I see it, Steve Van Buren, Chuck Bednarik and Reggie White are locks. You can’t do this without them. Guys like Harold Carmichael, Tommy McDonald, Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Pete Pihos, Jason Peters, Fletcher Cox, Pete Retzlaff, Eric Allen, Seth Joyner and Mike Quick are in the conversation. But for me, it comes down to Brian Dawkins vs. Jason Kelce for the final spot. Both made 1st-Team All-Pro four times. Dawk has seven Pro Bowls to five for Kelce (so far), but Kelce got robbed a few years early in his career because he was a sixth-round pick. Dawk is a Hall of Famer, but Kelce will be. Both are among the best ever at their position and both truly altered the way their position is played. How do you choose? For me it comes down to Super Bowl LII. Kelce helped lead this team to its greatest achievement in the last half century. It’s unimaginable to omit Dawk, but I’ve got to give Kelce the fourth spot.
10. Some other Eagles Mount Rushmores: Quarterbacks: Nick Foles, Donovan McNabb, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham. Running backs: LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook, Steve Van Buren, Wilbert Montgomery. Wide receivers: Mike Quick, Tommy McDonald, Harold Carmichael, DeSean Jackson. Pass rushers: Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Trent Cole, William Fuller. Defensive backs: Brian Dawkins, Eric Allen, Troy Vincent, Bill Bradley (by a nod over Malcolm Jenkins). Offensive linemen: Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Tra Thomas, Bob Brown. Linebackers: Chuck Bednarik, Seth Joyner, Jeremiah Trotter, Bill Bergey. Head coaches: Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, Dick Vermeil, Greasy Neale. Specialists: David Akers, Sean Landeta, Jon Dorenbos, Brian Mitchell. Assistant coaches: Jim Johnson, Bud Carson, John Harbaugh, Jeff Stoutland.