Eagles

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Cowboys

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Cowboys

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OK, you thought the Raiders game was unwatchable?

This was worse. 

The Eagles finished the regular season with a ridiculously ugly 6-0 loss to the Cowboys, the first time they've been blanked at home since that Monday night game against the Seahawks in 2005 — the night they retired Reggie White's number (see breakdown).

The offense has been brutal the last two weeks, and the playoffs are up next.

So Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo have two weeks to get this thing back on the rails. 

Here are today's 10 freezing observations from the Linc:

1. We talked about it all week, and this was the risk of letting Nick Foles play against Dallas to try to give him something positive going into the playoffs. By the time Pederson got him out of there, nothing positive had happened. Yeah, it was cold and windy. Yeah, Torrey Smith didn't do him any favors with that drop on the first drive (see report card). Still … this was a second straight terrible performance from Foles, and there are no more dress rehearsals. The Eagles have to be terrified internally with his inability to move the offense the last two weeks, and we all know if he's not significantly better it's going to be a very short playoff run. All I can say is Foles has a fairly sizeable career body of work, and although nobody expects him to be Carson Wentz, historically he hasn't been this bad. Just have to hope that two weeks of practice — and maybe some better weather the weekend of Jan. 13-14 — helps Foles find himself. Because what we've seen the last two weeks has been frightening.
 
2. Should Doug Pederson consider starting Nate Sudfeld in the playoffs? I know everybody always loves the backup quarterback and Sudfeld did do some good things against Dallas, but come on now. You can't just bench your backup QB — a guy who has won 16 of 21 starts in an Eagles uniform since 2013 — for a guy with three quarters of NFL experience. I know everybody is frustrated with Foles. And Sudfeld acquitted himself fine in his first NFL regular-season game, although he didn't get any points on the scoreboard. But when you're honest with yourself, the Eagles have a better chance of getting Foles back to where he was two weeks ago against the Giants than they do winning a playoff game with a kid who has thrown 23 passes in his career. It has to be Foles.   
 
3. But … if Foles doesn't play any better through the first, say, four series in the playoff opener? If he's this bad again? Get Sudfeld out there! 
 
4. What impressed me most about Sudfeld in his NFL debut was his accuracy. There wasn't anything down the field — I think the conditions have made that really tough the last couple weeks — but he did complete 19 of 23 passes for 128 yards and also showed some athleticism with a 22-yard run. Sudfeld broke the NFL record for most accurate performance by a player in his first career game (with a minimum of 20 passes). The record of 80 percent was set in 1968 by Sam Wyche of the Bengals, who went 20 for 25 against the Oilers. Definitely something to work with.
 
5. Was nice to see Sidney Jones out there running around. He did look rusty, which is understandable, considering he hadn't played in a game in exactly 365 days. But you got at least a small sense of his skill set, his ranginess and his confidence. Heck, he lined up against Dez Bryant on his first NFL defensive snap and didn't back down (see rookie report). Will Rasul Douglas move to safety? Will Jalen Mills move to the slot? Ronald Darby and Jones outside? They can all play. They're all versatile. Going to be interesting to see how this group of young corners grows over the next few years.

6. As wretched as Foles was, I have a lot of faith in this defense. Even the backups played pretty well Sunday against Dallas before they wore down in the fourth quarter. This defense is why the Eagles have a chance every time they play at home. Even with the backups playing most of the game Sunday, they still only allowed six points to a Cowboys team playing all its starters and clearly intent on trying to win the game. This defense always plays well at the Linc. They've only allowed 11 touchdowns at home this year and 23 at home the last two years, fewest in the NFL. The Eagles are going to be in every game they play at home.
 
7. Do we have to be concerned now with Kenjon Barner? He's fumbled a punt two weeks in a row now, and although he recovered both, he certainly looks shaky back there right now. Just another thing to worry about. 
 
8. He had one bad drop early, but I'm high on Mack Hollins. I see him moving right into that Smith role next year. Remember, when he was drafted, he was considered a special teamer and a big-play specialist. But he's got a well-rounded game and seems comfortable with all the routes. He just needs experience. I see him being a big part of this offense next year.
 
9. Speaking of Douglas, he had a rough time on the Cowboys' touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter, but you have to remember he hadn't played defense since the Denver game, and it definitely showed. He looked super rusty. I like Douglas. He's tough, physical and smart. I have no idea how everything will settle with all these young defensive backs moving forward, but I'll be surprised if he's not a significant part of this defense moving forward.
 
10. Finally, I'm just really disappointed the Eagles weren't able to get Brent Celek the 15 yards he needed for 5,000 in his career. Celek wasn't even on the field for the last drive. Celek has done nothing in his 11 years here other than play hard and practice hard without fail, never complain about his role and serve as a tremendous locker room leader and mentor to the younger tight ends, and he deserved to go out with that milestone. Celek has a $4 million base salary in 2018 but would count only $1 million against the cap if the Eagles release him. Maybe he'll retire. Maybe he'll play somewhere else. Maybe he'll take a pay cut and return to Philly. But there's a chance this was his final regular-season game in an Eagles uniform, and if it was, it kills me to know he fell just two yards shy of 5,000 in an Eagles uniform.

Based on history, look for Eagles to draft a lineman first again

Based on history, look for Eagles to draft a lineman first again

Since 1991, the Eagles have had 25 first-round draft picks.

Three receivers. Two quarterbacks. One cornerback.

And 19 linemen.

This is Howie Roseman’s philosophy. It’s Joe Douglas’s philosophy. It was Andy Reid and Tom Heckert’s philosophy and, even before Big Red got here, it was Tom Modrak’s philosophy.

Build up the lines first.

And nobody has done it more than the Eagles.

Since 1991, the Eagles have drafted more linemen in the first round than any other team.

They’ve taken 11 defensive linemen — tied for most in the league during the last 28 drafts — and they’ve taken eight offensive linemen, third-most behind the Seahawks and Lions.

The most combined linemen?

19 … Eagles [8 OL, 11 DL]
17 … 49ers [6 OL, 11 DL]
16 … Rams [6 OL, 10 DL]
14 … Seahawks [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Lions [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Saints [6 OL, 8 DL]
13 … Patriots [6 OL, 7 DL]
13 … Cardinals [6 OL, 7 DL]
12 … Jets [2 OL, 10 DL]
12 … Buccaneers [3 OL, 9 DL]
12 … Vikings [8 OL, 4 DL]

The only non-linemen the Eagles have taken in the first round since 1991?

Quarterbacks Donovan McNabb in 19991 and Carson Wentz in 2016, both with the No. 2 pick. Receivers Freddie Mitchell in 2001, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and Nelson Agholor in 2015. And cornerback Lito Sheppard in 2002.

And you know what? There’s a good chance they’ll take another one this year at No. 25.

Much of the rest of the league has adopted the Andy Reid philosophy to build up the lines first and then fill in the blanks.

Most mocks drafts have 17 to 19 linemen going in the first round this year — more than half.

During Roseman’s years as general manager — 2010 through 2018, minus 2015 — the Eagles have taken four defensive linemen (Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett), two offensive linemen (Danny Watkins, Lane Johnson) and Wentz.

With picks in the first half of the draft?

The only non-linemen since 1989 are McNabb and Wentz.

You’re always a product of the people you’re around, and just growing up in this environment and this system and where coach Reid was and someone that really put a huge emphasis on that, it was something that stuck," Roseman said. "We won a lot of games with that philosophy. We try to study what other teams are doing, what successful teams are doing, and you see, it’s important obviously to build along the lines and sometimes you say that, but you have to reflect it also with your actions.

Roseman first joined the Eagles in 2000 as a salary cap intern, so he was around Reid from Corey Simon through Cox.

And Douglas, Roseman’s No. 1 adviser and the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, shares his philosophy to build from the inside out:

Joe and I, when we started talking about building teams, it was quickly apparent that we believe in the same things. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements on certain players, that doesn’t mean there are other things that we kind of see differently because of his background and how he was raised in this business, but that adds to it.

The first round of this draft is jam-packed with talented defensive, and there are some very good o-line prospects as well.

The Eagles don’t generally draft for need, but of their five projected 2019 offensive line starters and four projected d-line starters, only Isaac Seumalo will be under 29 when OTAs start next month.

So you can hope for a receiver, a running back or a cornerback. Based on what we know about Howie? Based on recent history? Based on what just may make the most sense?

It’ll be a lineman. Again.

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Eagles open as big favorites over Washington in Week 1

Eagles open as big favorites over Washington in Week 1

If you quickly thought “W” when you saw the Eagles were hosting Washington at the Linc to open up the 2019 regular season, you’re not the only one. 

The Eagles opened up as eight-point favorites on FanDuel. That’s pretty consistent with other sports books too. I’ve also seen them at 8 1/2. 

That eight-point spread is the biggest of Week 1 in the NFL, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. Maybe if Washington trades for Josh Rosen, that changes. Maybe if they draft a quarterback in the first round, that changes. But for now? That seems about right. 

Washington fell apart last year, but the Eagles beat them 28-13 in Week 13 and 24-0 in Week 17. In the last two seasons, the Eagles are 4-0 against the Skins and have beaten them by an average of 15 1/2 points per game. If that continues, they'll cover easily. 

Elsewhere in NFL Week 1, the Seahawks are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Bengals, the Cowboys are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Giants and the Saints are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Texans. Those three favorites are also at home. 

Taking a quick look at FanDuel’s futures odds, the Eagles are tied for the seventh-longest odds to win the Super Bowl at +1,600. That means if you bet $100, you’d win $1,600. 

Here are current Super Bowl odds: 

Patriots: +700
Chiefs: +800
Saints: +850
Rams: +900
Browns: +1400
Chargers: +1400
Bears: +1600
Colts: +1600
Eagles: +1600
Packers: +1800
Vikings: +2000
Steelers: +2000
Cowboys: +2300
Falcons: +2600
Texans: +2800
Seahawks: +2900
49ers: +3000
Jaguars: +3300
Ravens: +3400
Panthers: +5000
Titans: +5000
Raiders: +5500
Broncos: +6000
Giants: +6000
Jets: +6000
Buccaneers: +6000
Bills: +8000
Lions: +8000
Redskins: +8000
Bengals: +10000
Cardinals: +11000
Dolphins: +12000

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