Eagles

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Steelers preseason game

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Steelers preseason game

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The Eagles played football Thursday night for the first time since the Super Bowl, and like most preseason openers, there was a lot of ugliness, a lot of of mistakes, a lot of sloppy play but also plenty of encouraging signs (see breakdown).

Three more weeks of this and it’s time to do it for real. It can't come soon enough! 

Here are our 10 instant observations off the Eagles’ 31-14 loss to the Steelers at the Linc:

1. Honestly, I’m OK if the key guys on the starting defense don’t play again until Sept. 6. That won’t happen, but I just feel like this group is ready to go. I know the Steelers didn’t play several of their starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but the Eagles’ first defense held Pittsburgh to two yards on two drives and then Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz correctly got it off the field just five minutes into the game. This front seven is lethal, and the secondary is stocked. The defense was very good last year, and it's even better now. There’s not much more I need to see before Sept. 6.

2. With 26- and 19-yard catches over the middle and a 15-yard catch and run for a touchdown, you guys all saw why I’ve been raving about Dallas Goedert all summer. He doesn’t carry himself like a rookie, and he doesn’t practice like a rookie, and he doesn’t play like a rookie. The drop was unfortunate, but it was also the first I’ve ever seen from Goedert, and he gets a Mulligan for a bad drop in his first pro game. The rookie tight end finished with four catches for 66 yards and a TD in his NFL debut despite playing only the first half. I like the way he runs routes, I like the way he secures the ball, I like the way he puts his head down and fights for extra yards, I like the way he blocks, I like everything about his game. I’ll keep saying this — Goedert is going to be a stud. Not next year, not sometime in the future. Now.

3. Nate Sudfeld was all over the place, but he did enough good things that overall I like what I saw. He did throw two interceptions, but it looked like on the second one Bryce Treggs ran the wrong route. Sudfeld was accurate (10 for 14, 71 percent), he got the ball in the end zone (TDs to Goedert and Shelton Gibson) and he showed great touch on a deep ball (63-yarder to Gibson). This is a kid who wasn’t even with the Eagles in training camp last summer and started the season on the practice squad. That first INT was bad, but I’m convinced he can play in the league, and nothing I saw Thursday night made me think otherwise. 

4. Sudfeld to Goedert for a touchdown has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? That's why I tweeted this late Thursday morning! 

5. Man, how about the way Gibson exploded on that deep ball? He separated easily from cornerback Dashaun Phillips and caught that bomb from Sudfeld cleanly and without breaking stride dashed into the end zone. Gibson has looked like a different guy than last year in practice, and it was really encouraging to see him carry that over onto the field on game night. Gibson’s longest catch in last year’s preseason went for 14 yards, and he actually had more yards on the TD (63) than all of last preseason (56) and then just one 11-yard catch all year. He just looks like a different guy. His confidence, shot last year, is sky high, and you saw it on that play. Gibson added a 14-yard catch from Joe Callahan late in the game, finishing 2 for 77. The Eagles have tremendous wide receiver depth this summer, and Gibson might be the most improved guy in the bunch.

6. I wasn’t crazy about Tre Sullivan’s effort on that JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown. Sullivan was late getting over to help Rasul Douglas, and I watched the replay a bunch of times, and he just wasn’t running full tilt toward the play. And then Sullivan just kind of ran along with Smith-Schuster without at least trying to make a tackle. I like Sullivan, but you’re trying to make a 53-man roster and the Eagles just signed Corey Graham at your position, you need a little more effort than that.

7. Good night for Josh Adams. The undrafted rookie running back from Notre Dame was 6 for 30 rushing and caught two passes. Showed a nice burst, a good knack for finding the hole and fought through traffic. Wendell Smallwood had some nice runs but also a bad fumble (that the Eagles recovered). Donnel Pumphrey and Matt Jones didn't play, and they need to get healthy to get back in the mix because they lost ground to Adams Thursday night. The battle for that fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles might go down to the wire, but safe to say that on a day when Smallwood fumbled and Pumphrey and Jones watched from the sidelines, Adams really helped himself.

8. Kamu Grugier-Hill has been almost exclusively a special teamer in his two seasons with the Eagles. He’s played 530 snaps on special teams and just 86 on defense — 53 of them in that meaningless season-ender last year against the Cowboys. But I’ll tell you what, he’s really active, instinctive and quick out there. I wonder about his size — he’s just 230 pounds — and how he can hold up over a full season, but right now he’s been the most impressive of the group in that competition for the weakside linebacker spot, and he showed up Thursday night. Nate Gerry didn’t do anything to hurt himself, but Grugier-Hill is just always around the football, and we saw that against the Steelers.

9. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Cameron Johnston, and the rookie from Ohio State has some big shoes to fill, but he crushed it Thursday night. The heir apparent to Donnie Jones averaged 44.0 yards on five punts, with three inside the 20. And that doesn’t even include an 81-yarder that was negated by a penalty on Richard Rodgers. The concern with Johnston isn’t his leg strength, it’s his consistency, but this was an auspicious debut.

10. It’s about time Clyde Simmons and Seth Joyner find their way into the Eagles' Hall of Fame. You’re talking about two of the greatest late-round picks in NFL history, eighth- and ninth-round picks in 1986 who went on to become flat-out studs. Those rounds don’t even exist anymore. Simmons' 121½ sacks ranked 10th in NFL history when he retired after the 2000 season, and Joyner remains the only player in NFL history with 50 sacks and 20 interceptions. Two all-time greats, and this is long overdue. Now we can work on getting Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters in. 

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1980 Super Bowl tickets and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points

1980 Super Bowl tickets and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points

Inflated Super Bowl ticket prices, your favorite Eagle who wore No. 21, an Eagles draft trend and much more in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Points!

1. Maybe he’ll be another Byron Maxwell, another Nnamdi, another DRC. I have a good feeling about Darius Slay, though. I think the Eagles may have nailed this one. The price in draft picks wasn’t too high, and his contract is big but it’s also smart and along the lines of what top corners are getting and has an out after three years. Maybe he’ll be another cornerback bust. There’ve been enough of those. But with his personality and his confidence and his playmaking ability, he reminds me of Asante Samuel, who was the last elite corner the Eagles have had. I remember the day the Eagles drafted Tra Thomas in 1998, he shouted into the phone during a conference call, “I’m not going to be another Eagles first-round bust!” Slay all but guaranteed the same thing. I could be wrong, but I think this time they got it right.

2. Doing some research this week I found a preview story on Super Bowl XV between the Eagles and Raiders from Jan. 25, 1981, by a legendary sports writer and cartoonist Murray Olderman that included this line: “Defense makes all coaches salivate but doesn’t do much to excite the guy paying that inflated $40 ticket (up from $10 last year).” Imaging having to pay an inflated $40 for a Super Bowl ticket! Outrageous.

3. Zero interest in Brandin Cooks. 

4. The last Eagles quarterback to throw the first pass of the regular season and the last pass of the postseason was Michael Vick in 2010. The last Eagles quarterback to start and finish 16 regular-season games and finish a playoff game was Donovan McNabb in 2003. Only 17 years ago.

5. It’s just weird to me that Halapoulivaati Vaitai gets a five-year, $45 million contract just a few hours into free agency, and here we are three weeks later and Jason Peters is still unsigned. I get that Big V is younger, but he’s started four games over the last two years and as we’ve all seen, he isn’t the world’s most consistent lineman. J.P. has been banged up, and he’s 38, but he has started 32 of 35 game the last two years. And let’s be honest: Even at 38 he’s way better than Big V. I wrote the other day about some of the reasons Peters is still on the street. But I’m still surprised. It might not be till after the draft till he finds a home, but I still feel like he’ll be playing somewhere next season.

6. The Eagles have drafted nine Pro Bowlers in the first round since 1990, and six of them were linemen — Fletcher Cox and Corey Simon on defense, and Lane Johnson, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Shawn Andrews on offense. The exceptions are Lito Sheppard, Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz.  

7. I’m fine with the Eagles not landing a receiver in free agency. But, man, they better land the right guy in the first round of the draft. And the second or third round. They simply can't afford to mess this up.

8. The first-round running back trend really tells you a lot about the way the NFL game is changing. As more and more running backs fail to be productive over a number of years and limp out of the game at a young age, first-round running backs have become more and more rare. Only 16 were drafted in the first round this past decade, less than a third of the number taken in the first round during the 1980s and half as many as the previous decade. In the last seven drafts, only nine of 223 first-round picks were running backs.  


2010-2019: 16

2000-2009: 32

1990-1999: 34

1980-1989: 50

9. Interesting to compare Dallas Goedert’s first two seasons in the NFL with Zach Ertz’s:

Ertz: 94-for-1,171, 7 TDs

Goedert: 91-for-941, 9 TDs

10. On our last Eagle Eye podcast, Dave Zangaro and I were talking about Ronald Darby, and Dave asked what player I think of when I see jersey No. 21. I immediately answered … Joselio Hanson. But in all seriousness, it’s Eric Allen. My theory is that we associated jersey numbers with the first player that stuck out to us when we first started watching the Eagles. I think of 55 as Mike Reichenbach, not Brandon Graham. I think of 96 as Clyde and not Derek Barnett. And I even see No. 20 and think of Andre Waters and not Dawk. If there’s nobody significant that wore that number in the 1980s, it’s different. No. 36 is definitely Brian Westbrook (and not Robert Drummond, Stanley Pritchett or Michael Zordich). And No. 27 will always be Malcolm Jenkins (and not Siran Stacy, Eric Zomalt or Norman LeJeune. But for all the numbers that were worn by key guys the last few years of the Buddy Era, that’s where my brain goes. I can’t help it.

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Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey died on Saturday of complications from the coronavirus. Dempsey was 73.

Dempsey contracted the coronavirus in March at the Lambeth House, a retirement home in New Orleans, and is one of at least 15 residents to die from the virus, according to The Times-Picayune.

Dempsey was an Eagle from 1971-1974, but also played for the Saints, Rams, Oilers and Bills.

Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey was known for his small flat kicking shoe. That shoe now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

The year before he joined the Eagles, Dempsey gained fame by kicking a 63-yard field goal to give the Saints a last-second 19-17 win over the Lions at Tulane Stadium in 1970. It broke the previous NFL record for longest field goal by 7 yards.

That was the NFL record for 43 years until Matt Prater hit a 64-yarder in 2013. Others had tied the record but it took over four decades to beat it.

In his four seasons with the Eagles, for whom he played the longest, Dempsey kicked in 47 games and made 66 of 108 field goals (61.1%). He also made 84 of 90 point-after attempts. Dempsey is 18th on the Eagles’ list of all-time scorers with 282 points.

Dempsey retired to New Orleans where he began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in 1969. He had been battling dementia since 2012. 

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More on the Eagles