Eagles

Jeffrey Lurie's decision on DeSean Jackson and more in Roob's 10 Eagles observations

Jeffrey Lurie's decision on DeSean Jackson and more in Roob's 10 Eagles observations

Jeffrey Lurie's handling of DeSean Jackson, the most underrated play of Super Bowl LII and an amazing Irving Fryar stat.

All that and so much more in this week's Roob's 10 random Eagles observations! 

1. I’ve heard everything from the Eagles were too hard on Jackson all the way to they let him off too easy. Very difficult situation. No easy answer, and I'm sure Lurie struggled with his response. Honestly, I think he got it right. Nobody benefits from just cutting him. And nobody learns a thing if there’s just a fine. I wrote when this first happened“DeSean simply can’t be allowed to put on an Eagles uniform again until he displays a true understanding of why his posts were so incredibly hateful and harmful,” and that’s exactly the route the Eagles took, and I believe Jackson is on his way toward doing just that. And if not? He's gone. I give the Eagles a tremendous amount of credit for their restraint, because I would guess Lurie’s initial reaction was outta here. But Lurie has never been one to make rash decisions. He genuinely wants his players — and all his employees — to have every opportunity to constantly evolve and learn and grow. And honestly, that’s what we should all want. 

2. I had to laugh at the NFL’s edict that players won’t be allowed to interact or exchange jerseys after games this year as a safety measure. So after blocking each other, tackling each other, sweating on each other and falling on top of each other for three hours they can’t shake hands? Makes perfect sense.

3. And as much as I love football and can’t imagine a Sunday afternoon in the fall without football and desperately hope the NFL can find a way to safely play this fall, I don’t see how it’s going to be possible without either a bubble or accurate testing with immediate results. 

4. But the amount of money at stake here is staggering. For each week of football the league can squeeze out, each team will receive about $10 million in TV revenue on the league’s massive $40 billion TV contract. If they have to cancel the season after six weeks? That’s $60 million each team has already pocketed. Is the league putting players at risk to generate as much of that revenue as possible? Whatever happens, don’t feel sorry for the NFL. Based on recent ratings and the new CBA, the next TV deal — which starts after the 2022 season — is going to be even more lucrative than the current one. 

5. Let's talk Super Bowl. The Eagles’ fourth-down conversion near midfield with 5 1/2 minutes left in the Super Bowl might be the most underrated play in Super Bowl history. It gets forgotten because of all the other remarkable plays — the Philly Special, the Corey Clement TD and 55-yard gain to set up the Philly Special, the Ertz game-winning TD later on the drive, the Brandon Graham strip sack and so many others. But think about it. There’s 5:39 left in the game, the Patriots are up 33-32, and the Eagles have 4th-and-1 on their own 45-yard-line. The Patriots at that point had scored touchdowns on three straight drives and four of their last five. If that fourth down fails, you’re giving the greatest Super Bowl QB of all-time a 45-yard field in the midst of one of the greatest passing days of his career. But Doug Pederson didn’t hesitate to keep his offense on the field. Nick Foles took the shotgun snap from Jason Kelce with one second on the play clock, dropped back and was instantly under tremendous pressure up the middle from defensive tackle Malcolm Brown. He was backpedaling as he threw and had to throw high to get the ball over charging linebacker Kyle Van Noy. It was astonishing just for him to get the throw off. Ertz went up and secured the ball just past the sticks and held on for dear life as he got drilled by safety Duron Harmon. A few plays later, the Eagles took the lead for good. That play remains the only fourth-quarter, fourth-down completion on a game-winning drive in Super Bowl history. If the Eagles don’t convert, they don’t win the Super Bowl. I've watched that play 5,000 times and it never ceases to blow my mind. 

6. Tom Brady only lost 21 home games in his 18 years as the Patriots' starting quarterback. 

7. If Nelson Agholor repeated his Super Bowl performance for 16 regular-season games, he’d have 144 catches for 1,344 yards and 1,488 scrimmage yards. 

8. The day Ertz was drafted, he gave a lot of credit to three-time All-Oro 49ers tight end Brent Jones, who coached him and mentored him in high school. I called Jones up that day in 2013 and wrote about his relationship with Ertz.

Check out a couple of Jones' comments from that interview:

​​​​“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Zach surpasses all my numbers before he’s done. He’s going to have a tremendously successful career.”

“But what I’d really love to see is Zach help the Eagles win a Super Bowl. That would be great to see.”

Seven years later, Ertz has done both.

9. The Eagles ranked 22nd in the league with 17 takeaways in 2018 and 19th last year with 20. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve had 20 or fewer takeaways in consecutive years.

10. Looking back, it’s incredible what Irving Fryar was able to do in 1996 and 1997. Despite playing with a rotating group of quarterbacks (Ty Detmer, Rodney Peete, Bobby Hoying), he became the first player in NFL history with consecutive seasons of at least 85 catches and 1,100 yards after his 34th birthday. Cris Carter did it a few years later for the Vikings. Fryar is still the only player in Eagles history — of any age — with more than one 85-catch, 1,100-yard season.

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Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

DeSean Jackson is 33 years old now and he’s coming off a sports hernia surgery that basically wrecked his 2019 season. 

But he still has it. 

On Friday afternoon, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson shared some 1-on-1 practice video that Jackson sent his way from the Eagles’ ongoing training camp practices. Johnson was pretty excited to get these clips and posted a couple on his Twitter account. 

That one is Jackson going against Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, in his first training camp with the Eagles. This will be a fun battle all camp long. Last year in training camp, DeSean dominated but he didn’t have a top tier cornerback to go against. 

It was fun to watch Jackson do this to the DBs in camp last year, but now he’s going against a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the best corners in the game. And Slay still stood no chance. 

That little hesitation step from Jackson and the explosion out of it is pretty wild. In a regular foot race no one is going to beat Jackson; if he gets the DB flat-footed, forget about it. And Jackson is going to beat corners as long as he’s healthy. That’s why so many defensive coordinators slide any help they can that way. 

And then there’s this hitch route that Johnson posted with some NSFW language.

On that one, you can see that Slay has to respect the deep ball and Jackson has that change of direction ability. One of the misconceptions about Jackson is that he’s just a go route deep threat; but that’s not the case. He can run short and intermediate routes well and it’s all set up from his ability to burn corners deep. 

The Eagles won’t be in pads until Monday, which is also when reporters are allowed to watch practice. I can’t wait to see this battle in person and report back. 

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Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Twenty-five years ago, Randall Cunningham retired after a dismal final season with the Eagles. 

Two years later he came out of retirement, signed with the Vikings and a year later had one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever, earned MVP honors and would have taken the Vikings to the Super Bowl if not for some terrible coaching by Dennis Green.

Cunningham’s offensive coordinator his last year in Philly? Jon Gruden.

Gruden today is head coach of the Raiders, and one of his pet projects is Nelson Agholor.

“A change of scenery worked for Randall Cunningham, maybe it will work for him,” Gruden told the Athletic.

Interestingly, Cunningham, who settled in Las Vegas after playing college football at UNLV, is now the Raiders’ team chaplain.

As for Agholor, he’s trying to rebuild a career that despite some great moments in 2017 and a brilliant Super Bowl never lived up to expectations.

"I trust him and I think he was picked high in the draft for a reason,” Gruden said of Agholor. "He’s a good player. You can pick up the Philadelphia Inquirer and they will probably say something different, but this guy has caught over 200 passes, he’s a young guy, he has played split end, flanker and in the slot. He caught eight or nine passes in a Super Bowl (9-for-84) and won a Super Bowl. So he's a world champion. He's a great person.”

Agholor caught 224 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns in five seasons with the Eagles, who made him the 20th pick in Chip Kelly’s 2015 draft.

He never caught more than 768 yards in a season and he surpassed 64 yards in only nine of his 76 games here.

Agholor said he and Gruden actually have a family connection that goes back to when he was in high school at Berkeley Prep in Tampa and Gruden had just finished coaching the Buccaneers.

“He actually used to hang around after his days coaching in Tampa, he still lived in Tampa, and he would always go to a racetrack near his home, and my brother worked at that racetrack so him and my brother spent a lot of time talking every morning when Jon was getting his coffee about football and about my college career and things like that,” Agholor said in a Zoom call with Raiders writers. 

“So it’s a blessing to be in this opportunity having a previous relationship. But at the end of the day I chose this relationship because he knows the game and all I want to do is learn and be a better player.”

The Eagles, who paid Agholor nearly $19 million over the last five years, made no attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old after last season ended.

He signed a one-year minimum salary benefit deal with the Raiders worth barely above minimum wage - $1.0475 million.

In Vegas, he’ll likely compete for slot reps with Hunter Renfrow, who had 49-for-605 with 4 TDs as a rookie 5th-round pick last year.

“Honestly, this is a beautiful opportunity for me to get a chance to play with a guy like Jon Gruden, who has a background in coaching receivers,” Agholor said. “I chose this opportunity to make myself a better player. There’s no better opportunity to play for a head coach that knows receiver play and can articulate ways you can get better.

“My No. 1 goal is to progress as a player.  Lot of things that happened in the past, some really good things and some things I wanted to grow from. I told myself this opportunity is to be 2 percent better than the player I was in my previous five years.”
 

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