Jay Ajayi’s workload, Jeff Lurie’s legacy, some more Nick Foles stats and some other random Eagles observations as we wait for Jordan Mailata to learn what an offensive lineman does.
1. Alshon Jeffery catches 12 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns in the postseason with a shoulder injury that would require surgery. Carson Wentz throws a touchdown against the Rams a few plays after suffering a season-ending torn ACL. Brandon Graham makes the defensive play of the year on an ankle injury that would require surgery. Everybody in the NFL plays hurt and everybody in the NFL is tough, but these guys – and probably several others we don’t even know about – played and played well on really serious injuries simply because that’s what the team needed. They deserve tremendous credit for putting team goals ahead of individual needs. Really, that’s what this 2017 Eagles team was all about.
2. It’s been 24 years this month since Jeff Lurie bought the Eagles from Norman Braman for $190 million, and it’s been nice to see Lurie finally appreciated by fans for his stewardship of the franchise. But Lurie has always been an exceptional owner, always willing to do what it takes financially to field the best possible team. When Lurie bought the Eagles, they had won FOUR playoff games since the 1960 NFL Championship Game. Since then they’ve won 14. And obviously the playoffs have expanded, but since Lurie took complete control of the franchise after the 1994 season, the Eagles are 206-160-2, the sixth-best record in the NFL and second-best in the NFC. They have been a consistently competitive team during that span, with only seven losing seasons since 1995. They’ve made the playoffs 13 times since 1995, and only the Patriots, Packers, Colts and Steelers have gotten their more. There’s the NovaCare Complex, the Linc, the Eagles Youth Partnership, the Eyemobile, the annual playground build. No franchise in sports is as connected to the community the way the Eagles are. And there’s the way Lurie has embraced the franchise’s history, something Braman went to great lengths not to do. Whether it’s the revived Eagles Hall of Fame, the extensive historical displays at the Linc’s Headhouse entrance or the halftime ceremonies honoring various former stars, Lurie has connected the current franchise with its remarkable past. Bottom line is that Lurie has made this an attractive franchise with a culture of success. People want to be here. People want to win here. It took a quarter of a century, but Lurie really has made this the gold standard.
3. I hope Lane Johnson never stops talking trash.
4. Here’s a ridiculous stat: Jordan Matthews’ 225 catches are 10th-most in NFL history by a wide receiver in his first three seasons. The only wide receiver in the Hall of Fame who had more catches in his first three seasons was Randy Moss, who had 226.
5. I think the Eagles are going to be very careful with Jay Ajayi’s workload, both during training camp and the season. Ajayi averaged only 10 carries per game after joining the Eagles in November, and that number jumped to 14 per game in the playoffs, and he was healthy and productive when the Eagles needed him the most. Ajayi is only 24, but obviously the Eagles are concerned about his knees. I love Ajayi’s ability, but I don’t think he gets more than 200 carries during the regular season (12 ½ per game), and it’s clear the Eagles want to add as much talent as possible around him — Matt Jones, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, perhaps Wendell Smallwood, perhaps Josh Adams, perhaps even Donnel Pumphrey — so the Eagles can rotate guys and keep Ajayi’s workload down. Pederson loves rotating backs anyway, and even without LeGarrette Blount, you’ll continue to see that.
6. Watching one 30-minute stretch of Jordan Mailata running drills was enough to make me think he at least has a chance to one day be a football player. He’s definitely a long-term project, but seeing that size, power and athleticism in person is definitely eye-opening.
7. Nick Foles threw 101 passes last year in the regular season and 106 in the postseason. But his five longest completions were in the postseason (and 17 of his 23 longest). How does that happen?
7a. I just realized Foles and Carson Wentz both threw touchdowns on their last pass of 2017.
8. The Eagles played at the Vet for 32 years. They’ve already played at the Linc for 16 years. Doesn’t seem possible they’ve played half as long at the Linc already as the Vet.
9. Just a reminder that from Week 3 through Week 14 last year, Wentz threw 29 touchdowns and five interceptions, and the Eagles went 10-1. The only other quarterbacks in NFL history with 29 or more TDs and five or fewer interceptions in any 11-game stretch are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
10. James Thrash actually had a pretty good season in 2001. Caught 63 for 833 and eight touchdowns. What’s amazing is that from 1997 through 2003, he’s the only Eagles WR who did that!