What impresses me the most about Doug Pederson, Darren Sproles’ impact, a look back at a pivotal play in 2008 and a reminder of just how good Carson Wentz is.

It’s all here in a Week 17 edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations. 

1. Whatever happens Sunday with the Eagles and Redskins at FedEx Field and the Bears and Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, one of the biggest things I’ve learned from the Eagles’ season is just how closely Doug Pederson has his finger on the pulse of his team. For him to get this thing back on the rails when the Eagles were 4-6 flying back from a 48-7 embarrassment in New Orleans has been impressive to watch. This Eagles team has had good games and terrible games, but they never stopped playing hard for Doug. He has such a keen sense of when to push them, when to back off, what they need. The QB situation can’t have been easy to navigate through, but Pederson has done it seamlessly. Most importantly, he listens to his players and isn’t too stubborn to change based on their feelings. He's constantly learning, constantly getting better. Which may be a weird thing to say about a guy who won a Super Bowl last year, but all I know is I feel really good about Doug going into 2019.

2. Avonte Maddox is the Eagles’ most impressive rookie defensive back since … since who? Lito, Sheldon and Michael Lewis were rookies in 2002 and you could tell they were all going to be good, but none of them were full-time starters. Probably Dawk in 1996. Maddox is so smart, so versatile, so productive, so physical. Can’t wait to see where his career goes from here. That’s a big fourth-round slam out of the park by Howie.


3. I’m getting pretty emotional about Golden Tate’s final regular-season game as an Eagle. Seriously, what a strange couple months it’s been for the former Lions Pro Bowler. I was stoked about the trade when the Eagles made it, but Tate has become really almost an afterthought the last few weeks, and he’s actually played less the longer he’s been here (32 snaps per game his first four weeks, 24 per game the last three). He doesn’t have a catch longer than 11 yards the last three weeks and he has just one longer than 15 yards in seven games. I still think it was a good trade. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work out. Just wasn’t a good fit, and I can’t imagine he’ll be back. But it was worth a shot.  

4. For those of you worried that the Rams will be blowing out the 49ers so early Sunday that the Bears won’t have any shot at a first-round bye and coach Matt Nagy will pull his starters early, consider this: The Vikings have only gone into the fourth quarter of two games this year with more than an 11-point lead. They led the Cards by 17 on their way to a 10-point win, and they led the Eagles by 14 before hanging on to win by two. And the 49ers have only been out of two games going into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, one of those was against the Rams. But that was two months ago with a different QB. Bottom line is that the odds say the 49ers can keep that game close enough so the Bears can sniff the No. 2 seed long enough to give a fair effort against the Vikings. And as an Eagles fan that’s all you can ask for. 

5. If Zach Ertz has another season next year like he did this year, he’ll be among the top 10 tight ends in NFL history in receptions by next Christmas.

6. When you look at what’s changed for the Eagles over the last five weeks, you can’t overlook the impact that 35-year-old Darren Sproles has made. After missing most of the season, Sproles has played in four games, averaging 5.1 yards per carry with a big TD against the Redskins and has nine catches for 126 yards, including a TD and 25-yard catch and run in Dallas and a 37-yard TD and 31-yard catch against the Texans Sunday. He’s as electrifying as ever. As decisive as ever. As fast as ever. Very few players can make the impact he makes with a minimum number of touches. Sproles has 35 offensive touches since coming back, and more than a third of them — 13 — have gone for at least 10 yards. That's crazy. Sproles has really added some big-play juice to the offense. I'm going to beg him not to retire. He's just too much fun to watch.


7. The first 10 games of the season, the Eagles had seven takeaways, third-fewest in the league, and they were 4-6. The last five games they have nine, sixth-most in the league, and they’re 4-1. When you look at what's changed this last stretch, that's among the biggest things. 

8. It occurred to me Saturday that if Rod Hood defended Kevin Curtis today the exact same way he did on the Eagles’ final snap of the 2008 NFC Championship Game, he’d be called for pass interference.

9. I hate calling a player injury-prone because as physical as the NFL is, I feel like it’s a miracle when anybody is able to play 16 games. But I really am starting to have doubts about Jordan Hicks, and I think the Eagles need to plan for 2019 without counting on him. He missed eight games in 2015, 12 games in 2017 and four so far this year. If he wants to come back on a cap-friendly deal, I’m fine with that. You can find a role for him. It’s not like anybody’s going to open up the free agency vault for a guy who’s made it through 39 of a possible 66 games the last four years. The Eagles just can’t afford to give him a big deal or rely on him going into 2019. 

10. Five Carson Wentz facts I’d like to remind people of:

Wentz is among only eight quarterbacks in NFL history with back-to-back seasons with a passer rating over 100 (minimum of 250 attempts per year).
Wentz this year became only the fifth quarterback in NFL history with consecutive seasons with 20 or more TD passes and fewer than 10 interceptions (along with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees).
Wentz’s 70 TD passes are sixth-most in NFL history by a QB in his first 40 games (behind Dan Marino, Kurt Warner, Matt Stafford, Johnny Unitas and Carson Palmer).
Wentz has averaged an interception every 51.7 pass attempts in his career, eighth-best in NFL history.
 Wentz has had a passer rating of at least 85.0 in 28 of his 40 career starts. Only Marino and Warner (29 each) have had more.

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