A laughable statement from the NFL, an unbelievable Jalen Hurts stat and Cam Jurgens’ future.
This is our first official edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations. Only a couple dozen more of these and it’ll be football season again!
1. I had to laugh at the NFL’s “statement” about the field conditions at State Farm Stadium last Sunday: “The State Farm Stadium field surface met the required standards for the maintenance of natural surfaces, as per NFL policy.” What a crock. Not surprising the league showed no accountability for the deplorable field conditions and hid behind such a lame statement. How do you play a Super Bowl on a hockey rink? I asked Howie Roseman if the team would make any sort of formal complaint to the league about the field, and he replied in a near-whisper, “Both teams played on the same field.” I pointed out that the field conditions clearly neutralized the Eagles’ biggest strength, their pass rush, and he quietly repeated, “Both teams played on the same field.” And while I appreciate Roseman – and the entire organization – not using the field as an excuse – especially after the way the 49ers whined and cried after the Eagles beat ‘em – the field was completely unacceptable for a preseason game, much less a Super Bowl. We could all see Eagles players slipping on every other snap, and a few Cards players, too. The field had a major impact on the way the game was played, and that can’t happen. Shame on the NFL for hiding behind a hollow statement. I don’t know who would have won if the game were played on a field that allowed guys from both teams to perform the way they’re capable of. But it would have been awfully nice to find out.
2. I like the idea of Cam Jurgens at right guard if Jason Kelce decides to return for a 13th season. I don’t think there’s any way Isaac Seumalo is back – he’s going to command way too much money on the open market – but in Jurgens you get a promising young interior lineman who’s cost controlled for the next three years. The Eagles gave Jurgens guard reps whenever they could this year – mostly at walkthroughs – and his teammates have no doubt he could handle it. Jurgens is smart, tough and athletic, and by the time OTAs roll around this spring, we’ll all know if Kelce is going to be back or not. If Kelce retires and Jurgens takes over at center – and assuming that the Eagles also don’t keep Andre Dillard - then what happens at right guard? Jack Driscoll? Sua Opeta? Brett Toth? Whoever it is, he’ll have Jeff Stoutland as his position coach so you really don’t even worry about it.
3. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Only nine quarterbacks in NFL history have had a postseason game before their 25th birthday with at least three total touchdowns, 65 percent accuracy and no interceptions. Hurts just did it twice.
4. One more crazy Hurts stat: Hurts on Sunday became only the sixth quarterback in history with 70 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in a game – regular season, postseason, Super Bowl. The others are Billy Kilmer in 1961, Greg Landry in 1972, Bobby Douglass in 1973, Daunte Culpepper in 2000 and Russell Wilson in 2012, all in regular-season games.
5. I don’t know how the Eagles can ever trust Quez Watkins in a big moment again. I give Watkins credit for being a stand-up guy and taking accountability for his costly drop in the Super Bowl and other mishaps this year. But think about the second half of the season. His fumble probably cost the Eagles a win vs. the Commanders in November, his soft play against the Cowboys turned into two Gardner Minshew interceptions and may have cost the Eagles a win vs. the Cowboys in December and then he had a horrible drop that potentially could have cost the Eagles a win in the Super Bowl. The Eagles only lost four games all year, and Watkins had major negative plays in three of them. After an impressive season in 2021, he took a massive step backwards this year. I’m happy to bring him back for training camp, but the Eagles need to upgrade that third receiver spot because Watkins this year hurt the Eagles way more than he helped them.
6. I watched that Kadarius Toney punt return 100 times this week, and I still can’t believe the coverage breakdown. When Toney scooped the ball up off the ground and began running to his left, he was immediately surrounded by five Eagles – Patrick Johnson, Zach Pascal, Jack Stoll, Reed Blankenship and T.J. Edwards. The problem is Edwards – who’s been fantastic on defense and special teams all year – lost contain and left an escape route for Toney to the right. Edwards was at the 40-yard-line next to Pascal, but he wasn’t doing any good there because there were a bunch of other defenders in the area. If he had been just a few yards deeper – say at the 37-yard-line – Toney would have had nowhere to go. But when Pascal dove for Toney and was unable to get him down, Toney immediately began running to his right, leaving the entire punt cover team to his left with a wall of blockers in their way. Toney picked up a head of steam racing down the right sideline, and no Eagle came within 10 yards of Toney until Arryn Siposs at about the Eagles’ 45. But he’s blocked out of the play by Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson and then cruises inside the 10, where Nakobe Dean finally gets him out of bounds. It was a catastrophic breakdown that just can’t happen any time of year. But in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl? Special teams have been terrible most of the last two years under Michael Clay. After that play, I don’t understand how he kept his job.
7. The Eagles have played in four Super Bowls. They’ve faced 130 passes – 81 by Tom Brady, 27 by Patrick Mahomes, 21 by Jim Plunkett and one by Danny Amendola. They have no interceptions. No other team has played in more than one Super Bowl without an INT. Of the 28 teams that have played in at least one Super Bowl, only the Chargers and Titans – who’ve played in one each – have no Super Bowl interceptions.
8. Andy Reid’s coaching tree is recognized as one of the greatest in NFL history. But although his initial 1999 Eagles staff included eight future head coaches, it took seven years for the first one – Brad Childress – to get a job. Childress became Vikings head coach in 2006. John Harbaugh was next in 2008, followed by Steve Spagnuolo (2009), Pat Shurmur, Leslie Frazier and Ron Rivera (2011), Sean McDermott (2017) and David Culley (2021). Of that group, only Childress and Harbaugh went directly from the Eagles to become head coaches elsewhere. So for Nick Sirianni to have two assistants become NFL head coaches after just two years, that speaks volumes for his ability to find and develop young coaching talent. And a decade from now we could very well be talking about a Nick Sirianni coaching tree that also includes guys like Brian Johnson, Nick Rallis, Kevin Patullo, Dennard Wilson, Alex Tanney and D.K. McDonald.
9. Reed Blankenship has to be a starter in 2023.
10. No running back in Eagles history had more career postseason scrimmage yards through two seasons than Kenneth Gainwell, who has 291. Correll Buckhalter (227), Corey Clement (172), Heath Sherman (130) and LeSean McCoy (115) were also over 100. The only 5th-round picks in NFL history with more postseason scrimmage yards than Gainwell after two seasons are Washington’s Timmy Smith (351 in 1987) and the Cards’ Tim Hightower (310 in 2008 and 2009).