Eagles

Jason Peters' future and more in Roob's Random Eagles Points

Jason Peters' future and more in Roob's Random Eagles Points

Jason Peters' future, a long-term deal for Jordan Howard, Carson Wentz on third down and a weird Josh McCown stat.

It's Saturday, which means it's time for a new edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points! 

1. We're seeing signs of life from the Eagles' pass rush, which is huge considering the rush was virtually non-existent the first month of the season — three sacks through four games. I don't put a ton of stock in the 10-sack game against the Jets. That wasn't an NFL-caliber team or QB. But for the record, 18 sacks over the last four games is the Eagles' most in a four-game stretch since 2011. More important is seven the last two weeks, four against the Bills. Brandon Graham has 5½ sacks in his last four games, Derek Barnett has 3½ in his last five. Anything the Eagles get from the rest of the ends is gravy. Those two guys have to consistently get pressure and sacks, and it's encouraging to see that's starting to happen. Steady pass pressure combined with a secondary back at full strength should make this a significantly sounder defense. 

2. Dave Zangaro wrote today about how Jordan Howard would like a long-term deal here, and I love the idea. No reflection on Miles Sanders, who we're starting to see some really good stuff from. Sanders has a chance to be very good. I just love the dimension two capable running backs with different skill sets gives an offense. Whether it's Duce and Westbrook, Ajayi and LeGarrette or Miles and Howard, the offense is more dangerous when the defense doesn't know what's coming. 

3. Speaking of Howard and Sanders, they're the first Eagles running back tandem to both average at least 4.4 yards per carry with at least 250 yards at the midpoint of the season in 18 years — since Duce Staley (their position coach) and Correll Buckhalter in 2001. Before that, you have to go back to 1978, with Wilbert Montgomery and Mike Hogan.

4. Jason Peters has been here so long the dude blocked for Donovan McNabb. That seems like an eternity ago. Peters is in his 17th NFL season, his 11th with the Eagles, and once again he's hurt. The guy has been so good for so long it's hard to imagine the Eagles without him. Think about this: The only player in Eagles history to make more Pro Bowls than Peters is Chuck Bednarik. He's tied with Reggie and Dawk. An absolute freak of nature at left tackle, insanely strong, impossibly athletic, frighteningly physical. But it's all coming to an end, and in a way that's tough to see, just because of what J.P. has meant to this franchise for over a decade. Andre Dillard has played better each week and if Doug Pederson puts Peters back out there when he's healthy, the odds are we're going to be right back on that carousel where he's playing, he's hurt, he's playing, he's hurt, and that's a tough situation for everybody. Dillard is solid and he's the future. Peters is an all-timer, but what seemed unthinkable just a few years ago may be reality today. It could be time. 

5. Only one Bears quarterback in the last 75 years has had a passer rating over 100 for a full season, with a minimum of 100 pass attempts. That's current Eagle Josh McCown, who had a 109.0 rating in 2013, throwing mainly to Alshon Jeffery. 

6. I was curious where Carson Wentz ranks in total third-down efficiency, so I put together a spreadsheet that combines third-down passing stats and rushing stats. Here's what I came up with: DeShaun Watson, Jimmy Garoppolo and Wentz are the top three third-down QBs in the league, Watson converting third downs at a crazy 64.5 percent, Garoppolo at 56.8 percent and Wentz at 53.5 percent. Dak Prescott (51.6) and Derek Carr (50.8) are the only other ones over 50 percent. Combining passing and rushing numbers really gives a good overall look at a QB's production on the most critical snaps. Who's at the bottom? Among regular QBs, the bottom three are Marcus Mariota (32.1), Joe Flacco (32.1) and Case Keenum (31.4). League average is 42.6. 

7. On our Tuesday Eagle Eye podcast, Dave Zangaro and I picked our first-half MVPs, and I thought it was a no-brainer. On a team full of guys who have either been inconsistent or struggled, Brandon Brooks has been flat-out exceptional all year. What he's done coming off an Achilles tear is nothing short of astounding. To think that he blew out his Achilles against the Saints in January, was playing at a high level by opening day in September and has just picked up where he left off last year? Remarkable. Brooks sat out 20 snaps at the end of the win over the Redskins on opening day but has played all 486 offensive plays since. At a very high level. An incredible story.

8. I'm not sure what to expect from Genard Avery, but the disturbing thing is that the Eagles like him enough to trade away a 4th-round pick now but not enough to take him in the 4th round last year. They took Josh Sweat with the 132nd pick, and Avery went 18 picks later to the Browns. Now they're giving up another 4th-round pick because — among other reasons — Sweat hasn't performed. He's played 152 snaps and has one sack, against the hapless Jets. If they liked Avery last year as much as they want you to believe, they would have drafted him. 

9. The Eagles have the 8th-most offensive touchdowns in the league.

10. I've never seen a wide receiver do what Mack Hollins did in October: Four games, 141 snaps, no catches. Doug Pederson said this week Mack is "doing everything we ask him to do." So they're apparently not asking him to catch passes.

Is this the year Jordan Mailata goes from project to player?

Is this the year Jordan Mailata goes from project to player?

A couple years ago, when the Eagles drafted Jordan Mailata in the 7th round of the NFL draft, I asked him a question and he gave an answer that has followed him. 

How much did you know about American football just a few months before the Eagles drafted you? 

“Mate, as little as peanuts.” 

By the end of his first training camp, Mailata said he had reached a quarter of a bag of peanuts. And it’s clear he has made progress. But now, entering Year 3 in the NFL, it’s time to start asking if Mailata has finally filled that bag. 

In other words, is this the year Mailata goes from a project to a real NFL player? 

“Look, I’m always as honest as I can be. I don’t want to lead you down a garden path, OK,” offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said last week on a Zoom call with reporters. “So I always try to tell you that absolute truth; you guys know that. … I can’t answer that question right now.” 

Hopefully, we get our answer soon enough. 

Stoutland said the reason he couldn’t answer that question is because he needs to see Mailata do it on the field. That might have hit a snag last week, when Mailata was one of three Eagles placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning he either tested positive for COVID-19 or was exposed to somebody who did. Lane Johnson said publicly that he tested positive. 

So, obviously, everyone is hoping Mailata is healthy; that’s more important. But he also can’t afford to miss any grass time, especially in a training camp that won’t have preseason games. With such limited game experience in his life, those preseason games were more important for Mailata than any other player on the roster. And now he’ll have only training camp practices and that will only happen once he’s off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

The good news is that Stoutland is very optimistic. 

“I can say this: In the meetings that we have, the virtual meetings, he was a completely different guy in the meetings,” Stoutland said. “And, you’re going to say, ‘What do you mean by that?’ His confidence level. Because we require these guys to know a lot and to be able to convert blocking schemes and calls. Completely, completely different in the meeting. 

“Now, will that carry over to the field? Every morning when I come here I pray that’s what will happen. Do I think that will happen? Absolutely. But I can’t guarantee that. We’re going to find out, though. That’s what this is all about. And if it does carry over then we got action. We’re going to be in good shape.”

This offseason, Halapoulivaati Vaitai left in free agency and got a big contract with the Detroit Lions, which means the Eagles’ depth at offensive tackle took a big hit. But then they drafted two players with tackle experience and brought back Jason Peters to play guard and also be insurance at tackle. 

So the Eagles have options if Mailata doesn’t work out or if he isn’t ready. But in Year 3, it’s probably time to get past the project phase. 

Mailata is still just 23 but in his first two NFL seasons he still hasn’t played in a single regular-season game. And he has ended both years on Injured Reserve with back injuries. 

But all the traits the Eagles saw in Mailata when they drafted for former rugby player to play offensive tackle are still there. 

Mailata is 6-foot-8, 346 pounds, incredibly strong, athletic and willing to learn. And in last year’s preseason, he looked good. We saw progress. Really, we’ve seen progress every time Mailata steps foot on a football field. 

But is he ready to be an NFL player and not just the guy trying to become an NFL player? 

We’ll find out soon enough. 

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Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

On Friday, two days before Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, several of his assistant coaches spoke about how effective they believe the Eagles’ safety protocols are inside the NovaCare Complex and how safe they consider the facility.

The Eagles, under the direction of vice president of football operations and compliance Jon Ferrari, reconfigured the South Philadelphia facility over the last several weeks to comply with NFL safety measures once the players arrived.

On Monday, the Eagles' so-called IDER plan – that stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan – was approved by the league, meaning the team's plan to deal with the virus in the facility met the safety standards required by the league and the players' association.

Yet here we are.

Without knowing how or where Pederson contracted the virus, it’s impossible to determine whether the safety measures are working. 

If nobody else in the building contracts it, they’re working. If it turns out there are additional positive tests within the building in the coming days, it’s possible that even the strictest adherence to the safety measures isn’t enough.

We’ll know more in the coming days, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, running backs coach and assistant head coach (and interim head coach) Duce Staley and special teams coach Dave Fipp all spoke on Friday about how effective the measures the Eagles took to create a safe working environment appeared to be.

Stoutland: “Coming through the front door, going through the gate, getting tested each morning, I gotta tell you guys, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I told my wife that, I told my kids that. Mr. (Jeff) Lurie, he cares about his team, his coaches, and just proves it once again with the group of people that he’s put together to organize this whole operation. It’s all different, it’s all new, (team president) Don Smolenski, Jon Ferrari, it’s unbelievable. Every little detail that’s going on right now, the door handles, everything that I notice, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, they think of everything to keep us safe.’ That part of it is great I think for all of us because it kind of lets you (know), ‘OK, let me just focus on my job and detail what I have to do and the other stuff, we’re good. We’re going to be in good hands.’”

Staley: “We have to be careful, that’s something that all coaches are being redundant with. We’re talking with our players, we’re talking amongst ourselves. We’re all reminding each other how serious this is, reminding ourselves as coaches and reminding the players. This is a different time for us and as a team we must make the adjustments so we can be successful down the road. We must make the adjustments. I think the Eagles, this organization, Howie, Jeffery, along with Jon Ferrari, they’ve got a great plan here for us while we’re in the building, so we feel 100 percent safe in the building. Now, we understand everything going on, how it can be contracted, but we feel safe.”

Fipp: “I think common sense is the biggest thing. Gotta be smart, obviously. There’s definitely an issue going on out there. I think we feel good about it as long as we wear masks and take care of our responsibility outside the building. I feel great about being inside the building.”

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