Eagles

Roob's 10 observations: The bottom line about Carson Wentz, running back situation, more

Roob's 10 observations: The bottom line about Carson Wentz, running back situation, more

The Eagles' season is over, but it's not the end of Roob's 10 random Eagles observations.

The plan at running back, Jason Peters' future, some surprising Tom Brady stats — it's all here!

1. How bad was Wentz this year? 
I keep hearing how bad Carson Wentz was this season, and while I agree he was inconsistent at times and generally too slow to get started, the bottom line is that even hampered by a knee that wasn’t 100 percent and a broken bone in his back, he still had a higher passer rating than Jared Goff, Andrew Luck, Brady, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers. He played 11 games and was very good in nine of them, mediocre in one of them (Indianapolis) and terrible in one of them (New Orleans). Look for yourself at his season game by game. You’ll be surprised. There’s no doubt in my mind that with a full, healthy offseason, he’ll be a top-five QB in the NFL next year.

2. The plan at running back 
We’ve talked a lot the last week about the Eagles’ running back situation, and I wrote about it a few days ago. I feel strongly that the Eagles need to attack running back with one of their second-round picks, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t welcome a free agent as well. Honestly, I think the Eagles could use one of each. As far as I’m concerned, everybody currently on the roster with the exception of Corey Clement starts out fighting for a roster spot. They need to completely make over the position. Not one defensive coordinator in the NFL sat in a meeting this year and said, “Hey, we have to account for the Eagles’ running backs.” They need weapons.

3. Figuring out which free agents to keep 
It’s interesting when you look at the list of the Eagles’ 17 free agents that there’s not one they have to bring back. There are a few you’d like back, a few who may be back simply because they’re hurt and have nowhere else to go and a few who you wouldn’t mind back if the price is right. But there’s not one who the Eagles are desperate to keep. Even Brandon Graham, as much as most of us love him, is a 31-year-old defensive end who had 4½ sacks last year. What this does is give the Eagles a ton of leverage. They don’t have to overpay to keep anybody. They can set a price, and if that guy wants more, they can move on. It’s a real position of strength.

4. The curious case of Jordan Hicks
Hicks is one of the more intriguing of those 17 free agents. He’s only 27, and we’ve all seen what kind of player he can be when he’s healthy. He actually had his best game of the year against the Saints last Sunday. But he can’t stay on the field. If he had stayed healthy this year, he would have been a pretty sought-after linebacker in free agency. But nobody is giving him much of a bonus considering he’s now missed significant time in three of his four NFL seasons — 21 of a possible 64 games in his career. I sure wouldn’t get into a bidding war for a guy that misses a third of his team’s games. But if nobody else wants him and you can bring him back at minimum wage or close to it? I’d do it in a second because the ability is there.

5. With the 25th pick in the draft, the Eagles take ... 
I’ll be shocked if the Eagles don’t go defensive line in the first round.

6. One for the fire Jim Schwartz crowd
Take a look at the Eagles’ five playoff opponents the last two years and how many points they averaged during the regular season and how many they scored against the Eagles:

2017 Falcons — Averaged 22.1, scored 10
2017 Vikings — Averaged 23.9, scored 7
2017 Patriots — Averaged 28.6, scored 33
2018 Bears — Averaged 26.3, scored 15
2018 Saints — Averaged 31.5, scored 20

Four of the five scored at least 10 points fewer than their season average, and they averaged 9½ points fewer per game against Schwartz’s defense than during the regular season. The one team that increased was led by the greatest QB ever.

Jim Johnson is the greatest defensive coordinator in Eagles history, and his units allowed 16.7 points per game in the playoffs, which from 2000 through 2008 was 4.4 points per game below the NFL average of 21.1.

Schwartz’s defenses have allowed 17.0 points per game in the playoffs in an era in which the scoring average is 22.5, so that’s 5.5 points per game below the average.

7. Some surprising Brady stats 
Check out Brady’s history in road playoff games:

• He’s thrown just eight TDs with eight INTs and completed 57 percent of his passes in seven career road games.

• He’s lost his last three road playoff games and hasn’t won on the road in the postseason since 2006, when the Patriots beat the Chargers, 24-21, in San Diego.

• He’s lost his last three road AFC Championship Games and hasn’t won a conference title game on the road since 2004 in Pittsburgh.

• Mark Sanchez has more career road playoff wins than Brady. David Garrard has a higher road postseason passer rating. Donovan McNabb has more road playoff touchdowns.

• Brady’s career postseason passer rating is 93.1 in Foxboro, where he’s 20-3. At neutral sites, it’s 98.0 and he’s 5-3. On the road, it’s 75.9 and he’s 3-4.

8. Pondering Peters' future 
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am Peters will be back at left tackle next year. Peters, who turns 37 next week, did leave some games early this year, but he also played 973 snaps — 80 percent of all the Eagles’ offensive snaps this year. When he was out there, he was solid, and although it’s not ideal, I’ll take Peters 80 percent of the time over anybody else. The Eagles would save about $5.1 million in cap space by releasing him, but Peters’ 2019 salary — $7.75 million — is middle of the pack for left tackles and certainly not prohibitive. Halapoulivaati Vaitai isn’t the answer. Jordan Mailata is a year away. It’s easy to say the Eagles should move on from him. It’s a lot harder to explain how.

9. On Alshon Jeffery and the interception
I was thinking about the Saints playoff game and what the Eagles’ chances would have been if Jeffery had caught that pass. It would have probably given the Eagles a 3rd-and-5 at the Saints’ 22-yard line. The Eagles were 7 for 17 this year on 3rd-and-5, which is 41 percent, and they were also 1 for 2 on 4th-and-5. So they basically had two 50 percent chances to convert, which is a 75 percent shot.

Now, what if they had a 1st-and-10 on the opposing 20? That happened six times this year, and the Eagles scored three TDs and three field goals on those drives. Of course they wouldn’t have attempted a field goal this time, and they kicked the field goals on 4th-and-8, 4th-and-13 and 4th-and-15, so I’m going to say it’s a 50 percent proposition to score a touchdown with a 1st-and-10 on the opposing 20. Factor in that the Saints were 23rd in the NFL in red-zone defense and Foles’ career red-zone numbers — 41 TDs, 5 INTs — and my entirely non-scientific conclusion is that, if converting a 3rd-and-5 with two chances is a 75 percent chance and then getting seven points from 20 yards out is a 50 percent chance, the Eagles had about a 38 percent chance to win if Jeffery caught the ball.

It would have been fun to watch Nick Foles try, but the odds were against the Eagles even if he caught it.

10. Predictions 
I’m going with both home teams today. Chiefs 37, Patriots 33, and Saints 31, Rams 27.

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Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

Eagles’ defenders have seen those moves from Boston Scott before

There were plenty of people surprised about Boston Scott’s breakout performance on Monday night against the Giants. 

Eagles defenders were not among them. 

After a year of trying to stop Scott in practice, they were aware of just how dangerous the 5-foot-6 running back can be. They weren’t even surprised about this devastating juke move Scott put on veteran corner Janoris Jenkins in the fourth quarter. 

Heck, it’s even happened to Rodney McLeod before. 

“Yeah,” McLeod said with a laugh. “Well, I don’t know about that bad. I gotta talk to Jenk about that one. But, yeah, he’s given me a move in the open field. He has a good change of direction ability and quick burst. Glad to see him making plays for us.”

In the 23-17 overtime win, Scott finished with 10 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown and added six catches for 69 yards.   

His 128 yards from scrimmage are the most ever in a game for the Eagles from a guy formerly on their practice squad. 

Scott finally got a chance to shine in a game, but he’s been shining in practice for a while now. Eagles defenders seemed happy that this time it was against Jenkins and the Giants.  

“He does that to us,” Nate Gerry said. “He’s done that for the last year.” 

Scott was a sixth-round pick by New Orleans out of Louisiana Tech last year. He arrived to Philadelphia last December after the Eagles signed him off the Saints’ practice squad. He spent the remainder of last year on the roster, but didn’t really get a chance to play. 

This offseason, Scott had a good training camp but Darren Sproles returned, which basically bumped him to the practice squad. He stayed there until Oct. 11 and didn’t really get a chance to play much until Monday night. 

But Scott was impressive all summer and even earlier this year in practice. 

“He definitely has that switch,” linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “He has that burst that’s a little bit different from others. You definitely saw that on the field, that they weren’t expecting because they didn’t know who he was. But he was definitely a big factor.”

Earlier this week, head coach Doug Pederson said Eagles will find a role for Scott in the offense going forward. With four games left, Scott might be able to make an impact. 

Based on the reactions in the locker room since Scott’s breakout performance, he seems to be a favorite of his teammates. Scott is the prototypical hard-worker, gets in early, leaves late, just needed a chance. He finally got it and made the most of it. 

“It wasn’t a surprise for me at all,” McLeod said. “I’m just really glad he got his opportunity to get out there and showcase what he can do.”

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A record for Boston Scott and more in this week's Roob Stats!

A record for Boston Scott and more in this week's Roob Stats!

If you want Boston Scott stats, you know where to go. If you want Carson Wentz, second-half defense and Eagles-Giants all-time series stats, you know where to go. Most importantly, if you want stats on two-yard touchdowns — and who doesn't? — you know exactly where to go.

Right here.

One thing we've learned over the years: The stranger the game, the better the stats. And Monday night's Eagles-Giants game was really strange.

HOT START FOR WARD: Greg Ward’s 11 catches are most in Eagles history by an undrafted player in his first four games. The previous high was nine, by both Paul Turner in 2016 and Mike Siano of Springfield (Delco) in the 1987 strike replacement games.  

HISTORIC SECOND HALF: The Eagles only allowed 29 yards after halftime in their 23-17 overtime win over the Giants. The last time they allowed fewer yards after halftime was Sept. 23, 2001, when the Seahawks netted only 23 in the second half of a 27-3 Eagles win in Seattle.

LEAVING SHADY BEHIND: With 69 scrimmage yards Monday night, Miles Sanders increased his total for this year to 948, most ever by an Eagles rookie running back. LeSean McCoy had 945 in 2009. Sanders now needs just 61 yards to break the overall franchise rookie scrimmage record of 1,008, set in 2008 by DeSean Jackson.

AND STILL CHASING SHADY: With 45 rushing yards, Sanders increased his season total to 565, passing Billy Ray Barnes (529), Mike Hogan (561) and Bryce Brown (564) and moving into a tie with Po James for 4th-most ever by an Eagle rookie. He needs 13 to pass Keith Byars, 22 to pass Correll Buckhalter and 73 to pass McCoy.

THREE QUICK ONES ON BOSTON SCOTT:
1) Scott's 120 scrimmage yards after halftime Monday night are the most by an Eagles RB after halftime since Shady had 170 in the second half in the Snow Bowl against the Lions in 2013.
2) Scott’s 128 scrimmage yards are the most ever by an Eagle who had been on the practice squad.
3) Scott is only the 7th Eagles running back since 1991 to net at least 128 scrimmage yards on 16 or fewer touches. Herschel Walker, Brian Mitchell, Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook, McCoy and Sproles also did it.

FINALLY GAINING THE ALL-TIME EDGE: The Giants won the first three Eagles-Giants games [in 1933 and 1934] and 17 of the first 20 meetings. As recently as 2008, the Giants led the series 80-66. Going into Monday night, the all-time series was tied 84-84-2. The Eagles now lead the all-time series for the first time ever.

THREE QUICK ONES ON ZACH ERTZ:
1) This was Ertz’s 19th game with nine or more catches. The only tight ends in NFL history with more are Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [21]. Gonzalez played 270 games, Witten has played 252, Ertz has played 104.
2) Ertz has 827 receiving yards. He needs to average 58 in last three games to become the 9th tight end in NFL history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
3) By surpassing 800 yards on Monday night, Ertz became the first Eagle in history with five straight 800-yard seasons. Mike Quick, Tommy McDonald, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Harold Carmichael have all had four straight. The only other tight ends with five straight 800-yard seasons are Gonzalez (7), Witten (7), Travis Kelce (6) and Greg Olsen (5).

ELITE COMPANY: Carson Wentz has 22 TD passes and 7 INTs. If he throws three or more TDs in the final three games and no more than three interceptions, he’ll become only the 4th QB in NFL history with three straight seasons of at least 25 TD passes and 10 or fewer interceptions. That’s only been achieved by Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

A DUBIOUS DISTINCTION: With Alshon Jeffery’s season over at 490 receiving yards, Nelson Agholor stuck at 363 yards with a knee injury, Mack Hollins next with 125 yards and now on the Dolphins, there’s a real possibility the Eagles won’t have a wide receiver with 500 yards this year. The last time that happened was 1964, when their top wideout, Ray Poage, had 479 yards.

THREE QUICK ONES ON 2-YARD TOUCHDOWNS:
1) The Giants game was the first in franchise history in which the Eagles scored three 2-yard touchdowns.
2) Ertz became only the 5th player in NFL history and the first Eagle with two 2-yard touchdown catches in the same game.  
3) Ertz had more 2-yard touchdowns Monday [2] than he had in his previous 103 career games [1].

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