Would benching Jalen Hurts ever be the right thing to do? What was the real mistake the Eagles made when they released Rasul Douglas? Can the Eagles keep both Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard?
While we all endure a second consecutive December Sunday without Eagles football, here are 10 Random Eagles Observations to help you pass the time!
1. As the Eagles hit the stretch run, an intriguing question is whether Nick Sirianni’s first priority should be getting as deep a look as possible at Jalen Hurts or doing all he can to get the Eagles into the playoffs. You can make a pretty good argument both ways.
Let’s say Hurts starts Tuesday night and looks the same against Washington as he did against the Giants. Couple interceptions, some bad decisions, missing open guys. Let’s say it’s the middle of the third quarter, and Washington is up 13-7. The game is winnable, Hurts is struggling, the offense is sputtering … what do you do? Do you let Hurts play through it to see how he handles adversity, to see how he responds to a difficult situation, to learn if he can pull it together late in a critical game after a bad start? Or do you get Gardner Minshew in there to try and jump start the offense?
The stakes are pretty high here. Beat Washington and the Eagles are one big step closer to the postseason. Lose to Washington and their playoff chances virtually disappear. I understand that the Eagles as a franchise need to know as much as possible going into the offseason about Hurts, and you don’t learn anything when he’s sitting on the bench. But to me, reaching the playoffs has to be every team's ultimate goal, and every coach owes it to his players, coaches, owner and fans to do everything possible to get there. You can’t put an audition for a struggling quarterback ahead of trying to win.
Winning has to be THE goal. Now, I do expect Hurts to play well down the stretch. He has most of the year. But if he doesn’t? I’m making a change.
2. This one just blows my mind: Jason Kelce has started 118 consecutive games. The next-longest streak of starts on the Eagles’ offense belongs to Landon Dickerson with 11.
3. The Jalen Hurts-Carson Wentz conversation always gets so ugly. So many people feel compelled to hate one of them and blindly worship everything the other one does. There’s no room for nuance. But the real world isn’t like that. They’re both talented quarterbacks who have some pretty clear flaws. And the irony is that their 2021 numbers are so similar, Wentz in 14 games, Hurts in 12:
✓ Total touchdowns: Wentz 24, Hurts 21
✓ Total yards per game: Wentz 228, Hurts 261
✓ INTs: Wentz 6, Hurts 8
✓ Yards per play: Wentz 6.6, Hurts 6.6
✓ 1st Downs: Wentz 157, Hurts 163
✓ Completion Pct.: Wentz 62.7, Hurts 60.1
4. Roman Gabriel, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Wentz are the only Eagles QBs in the last half century to start every game in a season.
5. Despite his back-to-back pick-6’s, I have no problem with the Eagles cutting Rasul Douglas (and Sidney Jones) after the 2019 season. Remember, Douglas regressed badly in 2019, and by the playoffs he wasn’t even playing defense. Didn’t get one snap against the Seahawks. He wasn’t good in 2019, and it’s not like the Eagles didn’t give him chances to show some consistency. He played in 52 games here, got 1,667 defensive snaps over three years, and while there were some good moments – especially in 2018 – he was a year away from free agency and the Eagles did the right thing letting him go. Remember, he also spent time with the Panthers, Raiders, Texans and Cards before landing in Green Bay, so it’s not like the Eagles were the only team that wasn’t thrilled with the way Douglas was playing. That said, I’m thrilled for Douglas because he’s a good kid who’s been through a LOT in his life. But don’t act like the Eagles goofed on this one. Douglas is with a team now that gets tremendous pressure and that’s allowed him to jump some routes and make some huge plays. The Eagles did goof, though. After cutting Douglas and Jones, they went into 2020 with Avonte Maddox opposite Darius Slay at outside corner, and we all knew he’s not an outside corner. The top backup was Craig James, who’s played 15 snaps the last two years, and the other backups were Nickell Robey-Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc. James, Robey-Coleman and LeBlanc are all on practice squads these days. The mistake the Eagles made wasn’t cutting Douglas, it was doing nothing to replace him.
6. Jalen Reagor needs only 15 yards the rest of the season to surpass Kevin Curtis’s 221 yards in 2007. Against the Lions.
7. The Eagles are going to have some very interesting decisions to make this offseason regarding their running backs. Do they extend Miles Sanders, whose contract is up after 2022? Do they extend Jordan Howard, whose contract is up next month? Boston Scott is due to hit free agency as well. Sanders is a top-10 running back when healthy, but staying healthy has been a problem. Howard has been fantastic when he’s played, but he’s had injury issues as well. Backs like Sanders are getting $7 or $8 million per year. But he’s missed all or part of 10 games the last two seasons. Howard would be cheaper, but he’s had injury issues too. The Eagles are at their best when they’re springing both Sanders and Howard on defenses. They’re both so gifted but so different it’s hard for defenses to stop both. Especially behind this monster offensive line. The Eagles rarely pay big money for running backs, LeSean McCoy being the only recent exception. But he was so explosive and so durable for so long while most RBs really have short shelf lives. Anybody seen Todd Gurley lately? Sanders is only 24 and maybe he can get past the injuries. I’d hate to lose him. If the Eagles can find a way to keep both Sanders and Howard within their salary cap limitations, they have to do it. I just don’t know if it’s possible.
8. The Eagles over the last four seasons have had 10, 11, 8 and 9 interceptions. They still have four games to fix this, but right now they’re on pace to become only the second team in NFL history to record 11 or fewer interceptions in four straight seasons. Their 38 INTs since the start of 2018 are 4th-fewest in the NFL. Before this streak began, the fewest interceptions the Eagles ever had in a four-game span was 54 from 2011 through 2014.
9. Andy Reid’s teams have had two losing seasons in the last 22 years.
10. The Eagles have only been involved in two games in franchise history where one team led by at least eight points going into the fourth quarter but allowed at least 21 points in the fourth quarter and lost. They were a week apart. On Sept. 17, 1989, the Eagles trailed Washington, 30-21 going into the fourth quarter before outscoring Washington 21-7 in the final 15 minutes and winning 42-37 at RFK Stadium. Seven days later at the Vet, the Eagles led the 49ers 18-10 going into the fourth quarter before Joe Montana threw four TD passes to rally the 49ers to a 38-28 win. Two of the most dramatic comebacks the Eagles were ever involved in and they occurred seven days apart.