Eagles

Eagles

In today's 10 random Eagles observations, we riff on all the calls for the Eagles to acquire Kareem Hunt, what I really want to see from Golden Tate, a crazy streak that the Eagles should be embarrassed by, Pro Bowl Eagles and lots more!

1. The Eagles and Kareem Hunt

The number of people who have tweeted to me suggesting that the Eagles claim Kareem Hunt on waivers is truly disturbing. A lot of them use Michael Vick as a rationalization. "The Eagles signed Vick, why not Hunt?" First of all, the situations are totally different. It took Vick years, including 18 months in prison, to become the kind of person the Eagles would even consider signing. And even then he had to go to extreme lengths over a period of time to convince Andy Reid, Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie that he had genuinely changed as a human being enough for them to sign him. And Mike has been nothing but a model citizen since they did sign him nine years ago.

Also — and this is not an excuse — Vick's crimes were widely seen as acceptable in the culture he was raised in. That's something he's spent a lot of his time post-football life with, educating people about dogfighting and working with lawmakers to eliminate it. Violence against a woman isn't acceptable anywhere. Does Hunt deserve a second chance? Maybe one day. If he can demonstrate in time that he's become a genuinely different person. That time is a long, long way off.

2. Expectations for Golden Tate

I really want to see progress from Golden Tate Monday night. Big progress. Not just in terms of his production but in terms of Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery being fully integrated into the game plan and not forgotten while the Eagles try to force-feed Tate. I want to see the targets and catches balanced. He's been here a month. He shouldn't be hurting the offense at this point, he should be helping it.

 

3. One defender who's been very good

I wrote about two months ago how disappointing I thought Michael Bennett was the first month of the season. And he had been at that point. Since then? Bennett has been the Eagles' best pass rusher and really their only consistent pass rusher. Bennett has 6½ sacks over the last eight games. All the other Eagles defensive ends have 7½ sacks during that span. And it's not just sacks, Bennett is really the only DE to get consistent quarterback pressure. I wasn't sure about him. He's 33 years old and pass rushers tend to lose their effectiveness at his age. But he's been very good. 

4. Assigning blame for the sacks

The Eagles are on pace to allow 50 sacks this year for the first time since 1998. I would say 60 percent of that is on the offensive line, 20 percent is on Carson Wentz's reduced escapability and hesitance in the pocket, and 20 percent is on Doug Pederson for not keeping a semblance of balance on offense most of the year.

5. The inevitable Carson Wentz backlash

For the first time in his three years as a pro, we've seen a bit of an anti-Carson faction bubble up the last week or two, and it's ridiculous. What Wentz did last year wasn't a fluke. He was a legit MVP candidate before he got hurt, and the Eagles never would have been in position to be No. 1 seed if he hadn't gone 11-2 in his 13 starts. And without the No. 1 seed there's almost certainly no championship.

No, Carson hasn't been as magical this year, but he's still less than a year out from a really major injury that's obviously hampering him. Carson hasn't gotten a lot of help from his offensive line or his coaches or from a running game. And still, his numbers are really good. There is no reason to believe Carson Wentz in 2019 won't be that MVP-type quarterback we saw last year.

6. What happened to Rasul?

I really liked the way Rasul Douglas played last year while Ronald Darby was hurt. This year, we haven't seen the same guy. Not even close. He was a sure tackler and solid in coverage a year ago. This year, he was neither before he got hurt against the Saints. Douglas played two snaps last weekend but should be back in the regular D-back rotation Monday night. I'd really like to see some positive signs from him the rest of the season. He has to be better than he's shown so far this year. 

7. An embarrassing Eagles stat

The Eagles have gone 12 straight games without having two interceptions in a game. That's the sixth-longest streak in franchise history and tied with the 49ers for the longest current streak in the league. Their last two-INT game was the NFC Championship Game, when Patrick Robinson and Corey Graham picked off Case Keenum.

 

8. Josh Adams can make history

Can Pederson pound the rock two weeks in a row? If he does, Josh Adams has a chance to become the first Eagle with consecutive games with 20 carries since DeMarco Murray in 2015. The last Eagles rookie with back-to-back 20-carry games was LeSean McCoy in 2009. The last undrafted rookie? It's never happened.

9. Eagle Pro Bowlers

The only guys I see making the team this year are Zach Ertz, Brandon Brooks and Fletcher Cox. 

10. What about the punter?

He probably won't go, but you can also make a case for Cameron Johnston as well. His 48.8 average is highest in NFL history by a punter after his first 11 games. He's got 17 punts inside the 20 and just six touchbacks, and he's allowed only 153 return yards on 45 punts. With five games left, Johnston has a 42.7 net average — fourth-highest in the NFL — and is on pace to break Donnie Jones' single-season franchise record of 41.6 set in 2015.

It's incredible how far this kid has come. A few weeks into the preseason, he was so inconsistent that I thought there was a chance he wouldn't even make the roster. The Eagles had the best punter in franchise history last year and found someone who may be better.

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