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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