Eagles

Roob's 10 observations: Jason Peters' future, Nick Foles stats, give Sidney Jones a chance

Roob's 10 observations: Jason Peters' future, Nick Foles stats, give Sidney Jones a chance

A bust at 22? Washed up at 36? More astounding Nick Foles facts and Corey Graham's bounce-back.

It's all here in this week's Roob's 10 random Eagles observations! 

1. After watching Jason Peters last Sunday, I want him back at left tackle next year. I don’t care how old he is, I don’t care what his salary is, I don’t care that he left a couple games early during the regular season. The way Peters neutralized Khalil Mack, one of the NFL’s most feared pass rushers, tells me there’s plenty left in Peters’ tank. Doug Pederson has handled Peters perfectly this year, giving him plenty of time off during the week and saving him for games. And Peters has responded, playing through a couple significant injuries — a torn biceps and a nagging quad — to help the Eagles get to the conference semifinal round. At some point, it’ll be time for Peters to hang ‘em up. I don’t think he’s there yet.

2. In the wake of Cody Parkey’s missed field goal Sunday, I was thinking about David Akers, who owns the NFL record of 19 consecutive postseason field goals. I know people still blame him for the Packers playoff loss in 2010 — he missed a 34-yarder and a 41-yarder and the Eagles lost by five — but don’t forget that after the 2003 conference semifinal win over the Packers (the 4th-and-26 game) and until the 2008 NFC Championship Game, he didn’t miss a postseason kick. A 19-kick streak in the postseason is remarkable. Still the greatest kicker in Eagles history.

3. Hey, please don’t ever call a 22-year-old a bust, OK? Sidney Jones has been rehabbing and injured since he got here, but defining any football player by what he does and who he is at 22 years old is silly. Mike Quick caught 10 passes as a rookie. Brian Westbrook barely played. Brandon Graham and Nelson Agholor were supposedly busts. Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown weren’t even starters until their third seasons. I could go on all day. It takes time to find your way in any job. I probably wasn’t a very good sportswriter as a 22-year-old covering high school tennis for the Gloucester County Times. There’s a reason Jones was a second-round pick. Give him a chance before you give up on him.

4. I found it interesting that rookie Josh Adams, who had averaged 14.3 carries over the last six games of the regular season, was only on the field for one play Sunday in Chicago. The Eagles were pretty clear that Adams had won the job as the team’s lead back after he had big games against the Giants and Redskins. But he averaged only 2.7 yards per carry the last three regular-season games and Pederson went with Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood instead against the Bears. I’m OK with this. Adams has looked a little tentative lately, and the playoffs isn't the time to let a young kid gain experience. I also imagine the Eagles are worried about Adams’ ball security. Unusual for a team to essentially bench its leading rusher for the playoffs, but in this case, it does make sense. Will be interesting to see if Adams has a role Sunday in New Orleans. 

5. This is a truly astounding Foles fact: Even though he didn’t become the Eagles’ starter until Week 14, he’s recorded the third-most wins among all NFL quarterbacks this year over 10-win teams. Foles has beaten the 13-3 Rams, 11-5 Texans and 12-4 Bears this year. Only Tom Brady (4-0) and Jared Goff (4-2) have more wins over 10-win teams, and both started all year. In all, Foles has won six straight starts over 10-win teams, including postseason wins last year over the Falcons, Vikings and Patriots.

6. One more Foles nugget: He has played five postseason games now. His second-half numbers in those five games: 63 for 86 (73 percent) for 667 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs and a 122.6 passer rating. That’s highest in the last 25 years (and probably ever). Second highest? Drew Brees with a 110.1 rating. 

7. I really like the matchup Sunday between Zach Ertz and Saints safeties Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams. Ertz hasn’t been putting up those crazy numbers lately — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the ball has been spread around more since Foles took over — but I think this could be a big game for him and Dallas Goedert.

8. The Eagles have 10 guys on the roster in their 30s and all 10 have been contributing:

30 — Golden Tate, Brandon Graham
31 — Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Kelce
33 — Michael Bennett, Corey Graham, Chris Long
34 — Haloti Ngata
35 — Darren Sproles
36 — Jason Peters

That really speaks volumes about Pederson’s feel for his players and his knack for prioritizing classroom work over practice time later in the year, especially for the older guys. Pederson believes getting guys off their feet as much as possible this time of year is crucial. Wednesday practices the last month and a half have been easy walkthroughs. It’s paying off now with a playoff run and a large contingent of 30-something guys who have had a big role in it. One other guy turns 30 a week from Sunday. That’s Foles. He’s been contributing a little bit, too.

9. Since 2011, five rookie tight ends in the NFL have caught a postseason touchdown pass. Three of the five are Eagles: Ertz against the Saints in 2013, Richard Rodgers with the Packers against the Cowboys in 2014 and Goedert Sunday in Chicago.

10a. Graham has quietly rebounded very nicely from that disastrous 4th-and-15 against the Titans. The Eagles didn’t sign Graham until a week into training camp, and maybe that had something to do with his slow start. Then he got hurt and didn’t play for a month. But during the Eagles’ 6-1 stretch, he’s played 454 of a possible 456 defensive snaps and he’s looked like a different guy. The Eagles definitely miss Rodney McLeod, but Graham — like so many guys in the secondary — has really picked up his game.

10b. I wouldn’t be shocked if all four road teams win this weekend.

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Why Duce Staley keeps having visions of Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner

Why Duce Staley keeps having visions of Ricky Watters and Charlie Garner

Duce Staley has seen first-hand all the great Eagles running back tandems of the modern era.

If he didn't coach them, he was part of them.

Duce was an Eagles rookie in 1997, when Ricky Watters netted over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and Charlie Garner added close to 800.

In 2001, Staley had over 1,200 net yards and Correll Buckhalter over 700. By 2003, Brian Westbrook had joined Staley and Buck for the vaunted three-headed monster that carried the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game.

Even Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles each had over 750 net yards under Staley's watch in 2016. And in 2017, he coached Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount to big years during the Super Bowl run.

“You know how we do it around here,” Staley said Thursday. “We’ve been doing it as far as running back by rotation for a long time.”

And that’s the case again this year with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders.

Staley spent seven years with the Eagles as a player, and he’s now in his ninth year as coach, having served under Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson.

And after all those terrific tandems, Howard and Sanders could wind up being one of the best.

Both are young, both are talented, both work well together, and they have the benefit of an offensive line that’s playing at a high level.

Nine games in, Sanders has 641 scrimmrage yards and Howard has 594. This is the first time two Eagles running backs have had 500 yards from scrimmage and at least a 4.0 rushing average after nine games since 1973 (Norm Bulaich, Tom Sullivan.

The Eagles have never had two running backs with 1,000 scrimmage yards in the same seaason. Sanders and Howard are on pace to get there

When Duce watches them, who does he see?

“I think, honestly, they remind me Charlie Garner and Rickey Watters, thunder and lighting,” he said. “That’s what it reminds me of every time I see them out on the field.”

Howard has 525 rushing yards,  a 4.4 average and seven touchdowns. Sanders has over 300 yards both rushing and receiving.

In Staley’s scenario, Howard is Watters, a tough, physical inside runner, and Sanders is Garner, a faster, more elusive back.

“You look at Jordan, he’s always falling forward, he’s always falling forward,” Staley said. “What we take pride in is if nothing’s there, getting back to the line of scrimmage. That’s very important. It’s hard to call plays for 2nd and 13, but if it’s 2nd-and-10 it’s a little easier.”

As for Sanders, he just gets better and better each week. Since Week 3, he’s 12th among all NFL running backs in scrimmage yards.

“He’s slowly but surely coming along,” Staley said. “Some of my teachings, some of T.J,’s teachings (T.J. Paginetti, assistant running backs coach). We take pride in ball security, we take pride in protecting the quarterback, and he’s already a natural runner, so slowly but surely he’s coming along.”

The Eagles are among seven teams with two running backs on pace for 1,000 scrimmage yards.

If you want to put the football in the hands of a couple tough, physical, versatile rotational running backs, it’s hard to imagine a better young tandem than Jordan and Sanders.

And if  you're going to pick the perfect guy to coach a couple tough, physical, versatile rotational backs, it’s hard to imagine a better guy than Duce.

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Eagles vs. Patriots 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Patriots 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (5-4) are hosting the Patriots (8-1) at the Linc on Sunday in a rematch of Super Bowl LII.

Here’s everything you need to know:

3 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP
4:25 p.m.: Eagles vs. Patriots on CBS
7:30 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP
9:30 p.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP

The CBS broadcast team for Eagles-Patriots is Jim Nantz (play by play), Tony Romo (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (sideline).

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP.

The Eagles opened up at 3.5-point home underdogs against the Patriots.

The referee for this game is Bill Vinovich, whose crew has called the fewest penalties in the league this year. In eight games, they’ve called just 100 penalties. The next closest group has called 115. The Eagles have won their last three games with Vinovich as the ref.

Remember the Super Bowl?

It’s hard to go into this game without thinking about Super Bowl LII, the last time these two teams met in a game with stakes. A lot has changed since February 2018, but there’s plenty that’s stayed the same. And that’s why both teams have used the Super Bowl game tape as a tool during this week. The Eagles have claimed they’re able to watch it without emotion, but I have a hard time believing that.

The overall outlook

The Eagles have seven games left in the season and actually have a better chance to make the playoffs than the Cowboys, who also have a 5-4 record. There’s a good chance the entire season could come down to Week 16 at the Linc, but the Eagles have five games before that. These next two games, against the Patriots and Seahawks, are really tough. But after that, the Eagles play the Dolphins, Giants and Redskins. So even if the Eagles lose the next two, they’re not in an awful position.

This particular game

The Patriots have an 8-1 record, but just two of those wins (Steelers, Bills) have come against teams with winning records. In fact, their other six wins are against the Dolphins, Jets, Redskins, Giants, Jets and Browns. So how good are the Patriots? It’s a fair question, especially after they were spanked by the Ravens 37-20 before the bye week. If any team deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s Bill Belichick’s unit, but this team might not be the juggernaut its record suggests.

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