Is Fletcher Cox an all-time Eagles top-10 defensive player? What's going on with Golden Tate? How good is Michael Bennett?
We're all over the map with this week's edition of Roob's 10 random Eagles observations!
1. Doug Pederson has really done a masterful job the last two years toggling between Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, and it can’t be easy. They’re both great guys, unselfish, close friends, which makes it easier, but it’s still a tricky thing balancing personalities and keeping both guys engaged and positive and supportive when they’re not playing. You know Wentz didn’t want to give way to Foles while his back healed. You know Foles didn’t want to give way to Wentz back in Week 2 after winning a Super Bowl MVP. But Pederson and his staff have not only done a terrific job getting both QBs ready to play — the Eagles are 23-9 the last two years when either Wentz or Foles finishes the game — but Pederson has also managed to navigate the potential minefield of egos and personalities along the way. This is a very underrated and very important part of coaching: Dealing with people. Pederson is very good at it.
2. Someone asked me on Twitter whether I’d consider Cox an all-time top-10 Eagles defensive player, and I don’t think there’s any question now that he is. You can make a case for Jeremiah Trotter and Bill Bergey, and guys like Jerome Brown, Tom Brookshier, Asante Samuel, Wes Hopkins, Hugh Douglas and William Fuller might be in the mix as well. As well as Malcolm Jenkins. But here’s what my top 10 looks like:
1. Reggie White
2. Brian Dawkins
3. Chuck Bednarik
4. Eric Allen
5. Maxie Baughan
6. Seth Joyner
7. Troy Vincent
8. Clyde Simmons
9. Fletcher Cox
10. Bill Bradley
3. It’ll be interesting to see what the Eagles eventually do with Avonte Maddox, who has that rare ability as a rookie fourth-round pick to play safety, outside corner or slot, depending where he’s needed the most. What a find this kid is. I figure long term he’ll wind up in the slot, where his intelligence, aggressiveness and vision are probably the best fit. But I know he'll be somewhere on the field next year and for years to come.
4. It’ll be fascinating to see how next year’s secondary lines up. Assuming the Eagles cut ties with Rodney McLeod and don’t re-sign Ronald Darby, I could see Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones outside and Maddox in the slot, with Jenkins and Rasul Douglas at safety. Now, if they choose, they can probably bring McLeod and or Darby back with cap-friendly deals, since nobody is going to give big money to guys coming off those injuries and we don’t even know when they’ll be cleared to work out for teams. McLeod is due $7.5 million and would count about $4.8 million if the Eagles cut him. It would benefit both sides if they could agree to a restructure. As for Darby, someone might give him a huge deal, but I doubt it. If I could get him back cheap for a year and he's healthy? I’d do it. One thing we've learned this year is that you can never have too many corners.
5. One interesting thing that would seem to indicate the Eagles are capable of playing with anybody is that they’ve only lost one game by more than a touchdown — obviously to the Saints. They’re one of only eight NFL teams that have lost one or no games by more than a TD, along with the Panthers, Saints, Steelers and Seahawks (one) and the Chiefs, Texans and Bears (none). In Pederson's three years, the Eagles have lost only five games by more than one TD. Only the Chiefs have lost fewer. So they’re in almost every game. And if you’re in almost every game, you’re always giving yourself a chance.
6. I have to admit I’ve been kind of shocked at all the anti-Wentz sentiment I’ve seen and heard this past week. And I’m the biggest Foles guy on the planet. How quickly they forget what Wentz did last year and even this year. Foles has played three games this year and had two in which he threw at least one INT and didn’t throw a TD. Wentz has played 24 games the last two years and has had one game in which he didn’t throw a TD and threw an INT. Foles will always be a legend in this city and deservedly so, but that doesn’t mean Wentz is terrible. He’s anything but. Drew Brees has been the best QB in the NFL over the last two years, and Wentz has one less TD and more INT over the last two seasons. Let’s cut it out with the “Wentz sucks” nonsense.
7. Interesting to note the differences in styles between Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood. Adams has 98 carries and Smallwood 74. Adams has six carries this year longer than 15 yards and Smallwood has none. But Adams also has 13 carries for negative yards and Smallwood has only five. Adams is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and Smallwood 4.2, but Adams gives you a bigger chance at a big gain … but also for a big loss. Here's Pederson on Adams on short-yardage issues:
Know the situation. Sometimes he just has to put his foot down and kind of cram it in there and just get the three feet that we need.
Smallwood is 3 for 4 in his career on 3rd- or 4th-and-1 (75 percent) and Darren Sproles is 16 for 23 (70 percent). It will be interesting to see if Pederson sticks with Adams when the Eagles have a big 3rd-and-1 Sunday. I’d go with Smallwood or Sproles at this point.
8. I feel like Jake Elliott needs to make that 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which would have clinched the Eagles’ win in L.A. The rest of the league is 10 for 14 from 53 yards this year, which is 71 percent. Even over the last five years, that’s a 70 percent kick. Kicking has changed. What we once thought of as a crazy long kick is now a layup. Elliott’s been very good, but that’s a clutch kick he should make.
9. This Tate thing is just flat-out weird. Tate has played only 20 and 22 snaps (out of 116) the last two weeks. He’s surpassed only 50 yards in one of six games since the Eagles acquired him, and he’s had only one catch of 20 yards or more. This can’t be what the Eagles had in mind when they shipped a third-round pick to the Lions. I liked the trade when the Eagles made it, but at this point it’s hard to imagine the Eagles bringing Tate back on a long-term deal.
10. Michael Bennett has been so much better than I expected. And more than that. As a person, he’s been nothing like I expected. I should know better than to make judgments about someone based on hearsay. He’s not only a beast on the field, he’s smart, insightful and funny off it. If you missed our Q&A with Bennett this week, you can find it below: