The case for Jeff Stoutland in the Eagles Hall of Fame, some crazy rush defense stats and a former Eagles wide receiver you may have underrated.
That's a sliver of what's in store for you in this Christmas Day edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations.
1. Jim Johnson is the only assistant coach currently enshrined in the Eagles Hall of Fame. And nobody is more deserving. Among former assistants, certainly long-time special teams coach John Harbaugh, Dick Vermeil defensive coordinator Marion Campbell and early 1990s D-coordinator Bud Carson should get some consideration. But there are no position coaches in the Eagles' Hall, and one day Jeff Stoutland has to be the first. What Stoutland has done in his nine years here under three different head coaches is astonishing. He's taken good players and made them great players. Taken average players and made them good players. And taken undrafted free agents that nobody wanted and made them solid players. The names change -- Evan Mathis, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce -- but the results are the same. The Eagles for nine years now have had superb offensive lines, and Stoutland -- as Eagles PR guy John Gonoude exhaustively researched this week -- is one of only five NFL O-line coaches in the Super Bowl Era (since 1970) to coach a Pro Bowl O-lineman nine straight years. But he's so much more than an offensive line coach. Stout is the running game coordinator for the NFL's best running attack and a trusted adviser to Nick Sirianni on everything involving the offense. Hopefully, Stoutland coaches here for many more years. But whenever he does hang it up, he has to be an instant addition to the Hall of Fame.
2. Jordan Mailata had the perfect answer when asked about not making the Pro Bowl team: "The sun's still shining, the check's still clearing and I love playing for this city."
3. Check out these Eagles defensive rankings over the last seven weeks: points allowed (6th), yards allowed (4th), rushing yards allowed (1st), 3rd-down (7th) and first downs (8th). Some of this no doubt has to do with who the Eagles have faced, but there's no question a lot of it is also Jonathan Gannon developing a better feel for his personnel, how to deploy various players and who fits best into what packages, not to mention some guys playing a lot more and others playing a lot less. What makes these rankings really impressive is that the Eagles are still not getting takeaways (they rank 27th) or sacks (30th). Keeping the points down like they have without impact plays isn't easy, but it tells you this unit is doing a lot of other things really well.
4. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts has generated 179 first downs in 13 games, or 13.8 per game. That's 9th-most of all NFL quarterbacks this year behind Pat Mahomes (16.8), Tom Brady (16.7), Justin Herbert (16.4), Josh Allen (15.9), Lamar Jackson (15.3), Matt Stafford (14.4), Aaron Rodgers (14.4) and Dak Prescott (14.3). Pretty good company.
5. Let's put Miles Sanders' 5.45 rushing average in context. The only running backs in Eagles history with a higher average over a full season are Steve Van Buren in 1945 (5.82) and Swede Hanson in 1934 (5.51). So Sanders is on pace for the highest rushing average by an Eagles RB in 76 years (minimum 150 carries). With Hurts at 5.6 yards per carry, the Eagles are on pace to have two players this year with 150 carries and a 5.5 average. No NFL team has ever done that.
6. If the Eagles win either of their last two games, this will be only the third time since 1974 they've doubled their win total from the previous year. They did it in 2000 from Andy Reid's first to second season (5-11 to 11-5) and in 2013 in Chip Kelly's first season (4-12 to 10-6),
7. Everything has improved with this team since Week 8, but maybe the biggest improvement has been the run defense. The Eagles allowed at least 100 rushing yards in each of the first seven games this year and an average of 133 per game, which put them 29th in the league stopping the run through the Raiders game. Since then? They've allowed 100 rushing yards only once in seven games (109 vs. the Saints) and an average of just 79 per game -- best in the league. How about 29th to 1st? This is only the eighth time in history the Eagles have allowed 110 or fewer yards in seven straight games. The last time they had a longer streak over one season was the last eight weeks of 1991, a historic year for the defense. The last 100-yard rusher they allowed was Carolina's Chuba Hubbard back in Week 5. How do you account for the dramatic improvement? Linebacker play, for starters. T.J. Edwards has made a huge difference with his tackling and physical presence, and Alex Singleton has been solid since he re-entered the lineup. Rookie Milton Williams getting more snaps has helped, as has overall improved play by Fletcher Cox. Rodney McLeod getting healthier and able to move better as he distances himself from that ACL rehab has also made a difference. They're all just tackling well and getting numbers to the ball, and stuffing the run as a unit.
8. Combine that rush defense with a historic rushing offense and what do you have? The NFL's best rushing differential for the season -- the Eagles have rushed for 833 more yards than they've allowed. But get this: Over the last seven weeks, that figure is a mind-boggling 947 yards, or 135 yards PER GAME. Since the Lions game, the Eagles are out-rushing their opponents by an average of 214 to 79. Since 1950, only four teams have had a larger rushing differential over any seven-game stretch (1972 Dolphins, 1973 Rams, 1976 Steelers, 2018 Ravens). I can't think of a better formula for winning down the stretch than an unstoppable rushing offense and a stifling run defense.
9. I was thinking about the offensive line the Eagles started Tuesday night against Washington. Lane Johnson, obviously, a 1st-round pick. But Nate Herbig undrafted, Sua Opeta undrafted, Jason Kelce 6th-round pick and Jordan Mailata 7th-round pick. To get that kind of monumental offensive line play -- over 500 yards, over 230 yards rushing -- with two undrafted subs and only one player drafted in the first five rounds is remarkable.
10. This may surprise you: From 2001 through 2004, Todd Pinkston averaged 51 catches for 766 yards and four TDs per season with a 14.9 average. Only five other WRs in the NFL hit those marks during that four-year span (Torry Holt, Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress, Chris Chambers and Eddie Kennison). He was better than you thought.
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