What player surprised me? What player impressed me? Who do I want to see more of? What makes Ryan Fitzpatrick very rare in NFL history? What did I love hearing Troy Aikman say?
It's all here and much more in this week's Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!
1. Gotta admit I wasn’t sure what to think when the Eagles signed Chris Long. He had just eight sacks over the 2014 through 2016 seasons with the Rams and Patriots, and the Eagles already had good pass rushers. What was he going to add at 32 years old? Turns out he added a ton. Leadership, veteran presence and a steady pass rush — 5.0 sacks as a rotational end. I mentioned to Long after the season how much he added and he told me he was really disappointed in his season, which I thought was interesting. He had won a Super Bowl, recorded his highest sack total since 2013, forced four fumbles. But that’s when I realized just how much he expects from himself. He came back this year in even better shape, and his game in the opener was the best I’ve seen him play as an Eagle. At 33, he’s showing no sign of slowing down.
2. Eagles QBs have gone 26 straight games without throwing more than one interception. That’s the sixth-longest streak in NFL history and it dates back to Carson Wentz’s two-INT game against the Redskins in November of 2016. Crazy!
3. One guy I give a ton of credit to is Rasul Douglas, who got two snaps on defense against the Falcons but made the most of them, turning in a huge interception of Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter at the Eagles’ 4-yard line. When Ronald Darby briefly left the field in the fourth quarter, Douglas was ready for the moment, and he responded with a huge play. That’s a pro right there.
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of only three players in NFL history to have a game with at least six TD passes and another game with at least six INTs. The others are George Blanda, Brett Favre, Jim Hardy, Peyton Manning and Joe Namath. Hardy in 1950 and Blanda in 1962 are the only ones to do it in the same season.
5. Hardy, playing for the Chicago Cards in 1950, is the only QB in history to throw eight INTs in a game, and he did it against the Eagles. Hardy was in an accident on the way to the stadium and arrived at Comisky Park just before kickoff. He got benched in the third quarter but had to return to the game when backup Frank Tripucka got hurt. That’s a bad day.
6. Interesting note about Fitzpatrick: On Sunday, he’ll make his sixth career start against the Eagles … all for different teams. Here’s Fitz’s all-time ledger vs. the Eagles:
Eagles 17, Rams 16, 2005: 10 for 24, 69 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 45.8 rating
Eagles 13, Bengals 13, 2008: 29 for 44, 261 yards, 1 TD, 89.3 rating
Bills 31, Eagles 24, 2011: 21 for 27, 193 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 93.4 rating
Eagles 31, Texans 21, 2014: 13 for 27, 203 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 82.8 rating
Eagles 24, Jets 17, 2015: 35 for 58, 283 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 62.6 rating
7. I loved hearing Troy Aikman talk Thursday night on the Ravens-Bengals broadcast about how much he struggled to play at the Vet. When I interviewed Aikman for my book, “The 50 Greatest Plays in Eagles History,” he said this about playing at the Vet: “It was such a dark, grim place. It could be sunny and beautiful outside the Vet, but as soon as you walked in, it just seemed dark and cloudy and gloomy.”
8. Two things I want to see Sunday: Corey Clement in the passing game and 17 carries for Jay Ajayi.
9. And Shelton Gibson on offense. Gibson missed practice Thursday, but he was back Friday, and it sounds like he’s playing Sunday. After the preseason he had, I was really curious to see if he could carry that playmaking over into the regular season but saddled with a heavy special teams workload (22 of 27 snaps) he only got four reps on offense. Newly re-acquired Kamar Aiken should get a ton of those snaps Sunday, freeing up Gibson to play more on offense. Hope so. After what I saw this summer, I think he has a chance to be a player. It’s a long way from making plays in preseason games to the regular season. I think he can do it.
10. Nelson Agholor’s 33 yards against the Falcons were the fourth-lowest by an NFL wide receiver on eight or more catches since 1960.