Eagles

Hall of Famers, Braxton Miller, and more in Roob's random observations

Hall of Famers, Braxton Miller, and more in Roob's random observations

Some random thoughts on Eagles cornerbacks, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Braxton Miller, Mackey Sasser and much more as we continue to count down the days until these football games actually mean something.

• I like what Carson Wentz said the other day about spending more time in the pocket this year. It’s really part of the natural progression most athletic quarterbacks go through as they truly develop a thorough understanding of their offense. They still can run but they just don’t need to run. Randall Cunningham ran 500 times his first seven years, but by his MVP season with the Vikings in 1998 he ran only 32 times (including 11 kneel-downs). Donovan McNabb ran 349 times his first five years, but in the Super Bowl season, when he had by far his best passing numbers, he ran only 41 times all year (including 11 kneel-downs). Russell Wilson ran over 6.0 times per game his first six seasons but last year, when he had his best passing numbers, he ran only 50 times all year not counting 15 kneel-downs. The key is that when it does make sense to take off and make a play with your legs, you don’t hesitate, and Carson promises he will. I honestly think we could see him take his game to another level this year. With these weapons? I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.

• Cody Parkey went into last year as the 8th-most accurate kicker in NFL history. His 77.8 career percentage from 50 yards and out (on 7-for-9) is 5th-best in NFL history among kickers who’ve attempted at least five of them. He was 21-for-23 with the Dolphins in 2017. Pretty darn good resume. And he can’t get a job. Incredible what hitting a few posts and double-doinking a postseason game-winning attempt will do for you. Tough line of work. 

• Very curious what the Eagles will do with Clayton Thorson. He followed his encouraging game in Jacksonville last Thursday with a very good week of practice. Really looks like he’s turned the proverbial corner. So do they still try to clear him through waivers to get him onto the practice squad and risk losing him? Or do they keep a guy who won’t play this year on the 53-man roster and cut somebody else they want to keep? Right now, I’d say there’s about a 35 percent chance Thorson would get claimed if they cut him. But two more productive preseason games and that number is going to go up significantly. Tricky decision for Howie.

• I don’t know why the Pro Football Hall of Fame continually snubs deserving former Eagles like Eric Allen, Harold Carmichael, Al Wistert, Harold Jackson and Seth Joyner. But I do know that it’s absurd that a franchise that’s been around for 88 years is represented by only six players who spent more than half their career here: Dawk, Reggie, Chuck Bednarik, Pete Pihos, Tommy McDonald and Steve Van Buren. That’s it.

• It’s great that Ronald Darby is back, and it’s not that I don’t like Darby, but I can’t help thinking Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are the Eagles’ two best options right now at outside corner. 

• I hope things work out for Braxton Miller with the Browns. He’s a good kid and things haven’t worked out for him since he got hurt in 2014 and lost his job quarterback Ohio State. He’s changed positions, becoming a wide receiver, and bounced from the Texans to the Eagles to the Browns. It’s been a rough few years. But I’ve got to be honest. I never saw him make one play at training camp. The Eagles were pretty high on him going into camp, but he just never ever flashed. 

• The Eagles and Packers are the only NFL teams that haven’t had a 50-catch running back in either of the last two seasons. As much as the Eagles work with all their backs in the receiving game, I’m not sure they’ll have one this year either. I do think Miles Sanders will eventually become a dangerous NFL receiver, but that’s probably a year or two away.

• What the heck happened to Stefen Wisniewski? I’ve never seen a guy just lose the ability to snap the football accurately like he has. It’s like Macky Sasser. Or Chuck Knoblauch. The inability to execute the most routine play. Wisniewski is still a solid guard, but he’s here to back up the three inside positions, and if you can’t trust him to play center, does it make sense to keep him? Wisniewski has started a ton of games in the league at center and was a Super Bowl starter at guard two years ago, but I’m not sure the Eagles can afford to keep him around.

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Eagles remember Kobe Bryant as 'a champion for the ages'

Eagles remember Kobe Bryant as 'a champion for the ages'

Anybody who’s seen the video of Kobe Bryant celebrating the Eagles’ Super Bowl championship knows how much he loved his hometown football team.

The Eagles joined the rest of the sports world Sunday in mourning Bryant’s death in a California helicopter crash:

The Eagles are shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. He was a champion for the ages, a fearless competitor, and an outstanding ambassador for the city. Our hearts go out to all of today’s victims and their families.

The Eagles and Bryant had a very close relationship. Bryant spoke to the team in December of 2017 while the Eagles spent a week in the Los Angeles area between West Coast games against the Seahawks and Rams, and he was often seen wearing Eagles jerseys and other gear.

Several Eagles players took to Twitter to express their grief, including Zach Ertz, who tweeted out a photo of a signed jersey Bryant gave him.

Sidney Jones tweeted out a photo of himself with Bryant.

Jordan Howard wrote about the impact Bryant had during his 41 years.

Lane Johnson offered his thoughts.

And former Eagle Jordan Matthews posted a video with Bryant congratulating his wife on the birth of their son.

Thoughts on newest Eagles coach Marquand Manuel, LeSean McCoy's Hall of Fame case, more in Roob's 10 observations

Thoughts on newest Eagles coach Marquand Manuel, LeSean McCoy's Hall of Fame case, more in Roob's 10 observations

Thoughts on the Eagles’ new secondary coach, LeSean McCoy’s Hall of Fame case and an unbelievable stat about Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis.

All that and so much more in this weekend’s edition of Roob’s random offseason Eagles observations! 

1. OK, it’s been 18 days since the Eagles fired Mike Groh, and they still don’t have an offensive coordinator. Senior Bowl week is over, the combine is only a few weeks away and free agency starts in less than two months. Of the 10 teams with an OC vacancy, the Eagles are the only one that hasn’t hired anybody. A couple thoughts: 1) Maybe the guy Doug Pederson is going to hire is already in place. Internal candidates Duce Staley and Press Taylor were both at the Senior Bowl practices. Maybe the Eagles are just waiting until the entire staff is complete to announce everything. I doubt it, but it’s possible. 2) Maybe Doug has decided not to hire an offensive coordinator and just do the job himself with his position coaches. I doubt that too, but it’s possible. 3) Otherwise, it has to be Jim Caldwell, right? As long as he’s healthy. By far the most impressive remaining outside candidate. Caldwell was QBs coach of the Colts when they won the Super Bowl and offensive coordinator of the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. If Doug wants a veteran QB guru for the job, this is a no-brainer. Get it done.

2. I do like the Marquand Manuel hire. I like that he’s been a defensive coordinator on the NFL level, I like that he’s coached in a Super Bowl, I like that he played in the NFL for eight years and I like that he’s got a little background with Jim Schwartz — he played for Schwartz in Detroit in 2009 — but still brings a fresh voice to the coach’s room. He’s got his work cut out for him. Getting Sidney Jones on track is priority No. 1. But the Eagles’ secondary as a whole is going to look very different in 2020, and the Eagles needed a capable veteran voice to bring it all together and make it work. He looks like the guy to do it.

3. The last Eagles defensive players to make a Pro Bowl before their 25th birthday were Lewis and Sheppard in 2004. Since then, 94 defensive players league-wide have made a Pro Bowl before they turned 25. 

4. How many QBs would you rather have right now than Carson Wentz? First I’m going to eliminate anybody in their 30s — Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, all those guys. Who does that leave? You’d rather have Pat Mahomes than anybody, but beyond that? Lamar Jackson? Brilliant talent but I wonder how sustainable his style of play is. Dak Prescott? No thanks. Jimmy Garoppolo? Nope. Deshaun Watson? You can make a case, but I’d take Wentz. Jared Goff? Kyler Murray? Daniel Jones? Nah. The injuries are frustrating but no doubt in my mind that despite everything the Eagles have the right QB to build around. 

5. I wonder if the Super Bowl will be McCoy’s final game. He had a nice first half of the season and showed he has something left, but since Damien Williams’ emergence, he’s barely played and doesn’t even have a carry since mid-December. Shady’s a free agent after the Super Bowl and turns 32 this summer, an age where few running backs are still going. Shady’s the only player in NFL history with 11,000 rushing yards, a 4.5 rushing average and 500 catches. Hall of Famer if he retires now? Probably not quite. But one hell of a career.

6. Curious note about McCoy: He’s never had a carry in a postseason victory. The Eagles were 0-3 in the playoffs with McCoy in uniform and the Bills were 0-1. He didn’t have a carry in the Chiefs’ win over the Texans and was inactive for the win over the Titans. 

7. In Eagles history, Jordan Matthews has the most receiving yards after three seasons and Shady has the most rushing yards after three seasons. One of them will win a Super Bowl ring next Sunday. Both will probably be inactive.

8. Chiefs GM Brett Veach is a remarkable story. He grew up in Mt. Carmel, between Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, starred at Mt. Carmel High School, played with Matt Nagy at Delaware and was on track to work in Delaware’s athletic department after college when he landed an internship with the Eagles in the summer of 2004. With his work ethic and uncanny eye for talent, he worked his way up the ladder. When Andy Reid asked him to find a wide receiver the Eagles could take in the second round in 2008, Veach recommended DeSean Jackson, even though he was coming off a poor season. When Reid was hired by the Chiefs in 2013, he brought Veach with him. In 2015, Veach was watching film of Texas Tech offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark and Tech’s unheralded QB kept jumping out at him, and Veach knew even then Mahomes was something special, and in 2017 they traded up for him. Mahomes is now the best QB in the NFL, an MVP and one win from a Super Bowl. In span of 10 years, Veach went from interning in the Eagles’ scouting office to drafting Pat Mahomes.  

9. This is kind of a strange one, but Boston Scott this year became only the seventh player in NFL history with 85 or fewer touches but at least five rushing TDs and 20 catches. The dude definitely made the most of his limited workload.

10. I used to think Harold Carmichael’s franchise record of 589 catches was untouchable. Only seven Eagles even reached 300 during the 30-year period from 1985 through 2015, and only Brian Westbrook got over 400. But Zach Ertz will go into 2020 just 64 catches behind Harold, and at his rate of 5.8 catches per game over the last five years he’ll pass him somewhere around Week 12 if he stays healthy. Harold will go into the Hall of Fame in September and have his most hallowed record broken in November. And knowing Harold, nobody will be happier for Ertz.

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