Roob's 10 observations: Nick Foles' strange career, Jason Peters' age, 2018 predictions

Roob's 10 observations: Nick Foles' strange career, Jason Peters' age, 2018 predictions

Nick Foles’ strange career, Jim Schwartz’s remarkable defense, Jason Peters' age, some all-time Eagles opening-day records, a prediction for the 2018 season and much more.

It's an opening-day 2018 edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations! 

And don't forget to watch the game tonight (8:20 p.m., NBC10). 

1. Here’s why I think Nick Foles drives everybody crazy: Almost all of his career games have been either really, really incredible or really, really bad. There is very little middle ground with Foles, and the numbers support that. Foles has played in 47 games in his career in which he’s thrown 10 or more passes. He’s had a passer rating under 70 in 12 of them and over 85 in 29 of them. That means he’s only had a rating from 70 to 85 — which is a huge, huge range — six times in 47 games! So he’s frequently extremely good and occasionally crappy but only rarely mediocre. 

2. The Eagles have allowed fewer points at home than any team in the NFL in two years under Jim Schwartz. And it’s not close. The Eagles’ defense has given up 220 points in 18 games at the Linc since opening day 2016. That’s 12.2 per game, and that’s insane. The Vikings (14.5) and Ravens (15.2) are next-best, so the Eagles are allowing nearly 2 1/2 points fewer points per game at home than anybody else. That includes playoff opponents, too. Schwartz is a genius.

3. Five predictions for 2018: 1) Nelson Agholor goes over 1,000 yards, 2) Corey Clement catches over 50 passes, 3) Derek Barnett gets 12 1/2 sacks, 4) Eagles record 50 sacks as a team for the first time since 2002, 5) Dallas Goedert catches at least 40 passes.

4. The most catches in NFL history by a rookie tight end is Keith Jackson’s 81 for the Eagles back in 1988. What an incredible achievement. To this day, only eight players in NFL history have had more catches as a rookie. Only two rookie tight ends have ever come within 25 catches of Jackson’s record, both with the Giants — Jeremy Shockey (74 in 2002) and Evan Engram (64 last year).

5. Here are some Eagles opening-day records:

Passing yards: 371, Ron Jaworski, vs. Redskins, 1982 

Rushing yards: 201, Duce Staley, at Cowboys, 2000 

Receiving yards:179, Tommy McDonald, vs. Steelers, 1963 

Yards from scrimmage: 262, Duce Staley, at Cowboys, 2000   

Sacks: 3.0, Reggie White, at Packers, 1991 

Longest TD pass: 90 yards, Donovan McNabb to Hank Baskett, vs. Rams, 2008

Longest TD run: 81 yards, Swede Hanson, at Packers, 1934

Longest interception return: 34 yards, Joe Scarpati, vs. Browns, 1969                   

Longest fumble return: 70 yards, Reggie White, at Redskins, 1987

Longest punt return: 85 yards, DeSean Jackson, at Panthers, 2009

Longest kickoff return: 105 yards, Timmy Brown, vs. Browns, 1961

6. One interesting thing about this offseason is that the Eagles had no contract issues, no labor unrest. So many championship teams are torn apart because players invariably tend to feel like they contributed more than they were paid for during the Super Bowl run and deserve more money. This leads to holdouts, contract demands and all the distractions that come with all that. But not only were the Eagles an unselfish, team-first group during the season, they were the same during the offseason. And none of the guys whose contracts are up after this season — in particular, Brandon Graham, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi and Jordan Hicks — was a problem, when they easily could have been. What was the over-riding story the summer of 2005 after the Eagles’ last Super Bowl appearance? T.O. and his contract. Nothing like that this offseason, and that speaks volumes about the culture Doug Pederson has built.

7. This is a little ominous: The Eagles are 10-4 in openers since 2004, the second-best opening-day record in the NFL over the last 14 years. But they're 0-2 in openers against the Falcons during that span and 10-2 against everybody else.

8. Two thoughts about Jason Peters.

Thought No. 1: He’s 36 years and 227 days old, and when he starts against the Falcons Thursday night he’ll be the Eagles’ oldest starter since Jeff Garcia in 2006; their oldest opening-day starter since Irving Fryar in 1998; and their oldest starting offensive lineman since 37-year-old right guard Woody Peoples in 1980. 

Thought No. 2: I never worry about Jason Peters.

9. My first Eagles opener was in 1988. The Eagles hadn’t had a winning season since 1981, but there was a lot of optimism around that 1988 team because the Eagles had gone 7-5 in non-strike games the previous season, Randall Cunningham had shown signs of greatness in 1987, and the draft had brought studs on both sides of the ball —  Jackson in the first round and cornerback Eric Allen in the second. The Eagles couldn’t have picked a better opening-day opponent than the Buccaneers, who were 16-63 over the previous six seasons and were starting a scattershot young QB named Vinny Testaverde. It was a 90-degree day at old Tampa Stadium. The Eagles hadn’t won an opener since 1983, but they jumped all over the hapless Bucs. On the Eagles’ fourth play of the game, Bucs linebacker Kevin Murphy chased Cunningham out of the pocket, and he rolled to his left and floated a 37-yard TD to Mike Quick. By the time the first quarter was over, Anthony Toney had run for a TD and Cunningham had thrown an 8-yard TD to Jackson for a 21-0 lead. The Eagles even scored on a 38-yard TD run by safety Terry Hoage on the only carry of his 13-year career. The final score was 41-14, and that game signaled the Eagles’ arrival as an elite NFC team. They won the NFC East at 10-6, starting a five-year stretch in which they won 10 or more games every year. That team really put the Eagles on the map, and looking back, that opener in Tampa really announced the arrival of Eaglemania. It's hard to imagine now, but the Eagles really weren’t a huge deal in Philly until Buddy Ryan arrived in 1986 and woke a dormant fan base with his boasting and bragging. Since opening day 1988 the Eagles have been one of the best teams in the NFL. Their .571 winning percentage over the last 30 years is fifth-best in the league and second-best in the NFC behind the Packers (.595). And it all really began on that steamy day at Tampa Stadium 30 years ago this week.

10. OK, prediction time. I know nobody repeats anymore. I know how hard it is to overcome the Super Bowl hangover. I know it’s been a short offseason, and it’s been filled with celebrations, banquets, ring ceremonies, TV appearances, book tours and every imaginable distraction a championship team can have. I know everybody is going to pick the Eagles to come back to Earth, maybe go 9-7 and miss the playoffs. I don’t care. I think there’s something special here, and I don’t think that just evaporates overnight. The Eagles showed no signs of complacency or laziness this summer. The Super Bowl was all but a taboo topic in the locker room. They enjoyed the moment and then moved on. NFC East? Yeah, they take it. Super Bowl? Yeah, they reach it. Another championship? Yeah, they win it. You can do what you want. I’m not betting against Doug Pederson.

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Cowboys part ways with OC Scott Linehan, and Dez Bryant has a laugh

Cowboys part ways with OC Scott Linehan, and Dez Bryant has a laugh

After five seasons of ups and downs, the Cowboys have moved on from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and are now in the hunt for a new play-caller. 

Linehan joined the Cowboys as a passing game coordinator in 2014, but was promoted to OC in 2015 and held that title for four seasons. 

But he was the team’s play-caller for the last five seasons and one of his former stars seemed to chime in on social media Friday afternoon: 

After it was announced on Friday, Jason Garrett released a pretty bland statement about the decision. 

The decision was slightly surprising because Linehan was expected to return. But the Cowboys really struggled earlier this past season and Linehan and his play-calling were criticized often. 

Here’s a look at the Cowboys’ offense over the five years with Linehan. 

2018: 21.2 points per game (22nd), 343.8 yards per game (22nd)
2017: 22.1 points per game (14th), 331.9 yards per game (14th)
2016: 26.3 points per game (5th), 376.7 yards per game (5th)
2015: 17.2 points per game (31st), 335.1 yards per game (22nd)
2014: 29.2 points per game (5th), 383.6 yards per game (7th)

Definitely some ups and downs during his time in North Texas. During his five years, the Cowboys had some great rushing years with Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarco Murray. But the passing game never really caught up, even when it had the best offensive line in football. 

Since the Cowboys peaked in 2016, there has been a steady decline the last two seasons. 

We’ll see who the Cowboys hire as a play-caller or if they’d opt to hand that responsibility back to Garrett. The Cowboys might just be limited because Dak Prescott, while a solid quarterback, is also a limited player.

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Exploring top landing spots this offseason for Nick Foles

Exploring top landing spots this offseason for Nick Foles

We’ve already examined all the factors that are going to go into the Eagles’ decision about Nick Foles (see story), but now it’s time to figure out where he’s going to land. 

While oddsmakers left the Eagles on the board, it seems pretty clear that Foles is going to move on to another team one way or another this offseason. I still think the most likely way he leaves is as a free agent, but there could also be a trade if the Eagles can work one out and Foles is agreeable. 

Anyway, let’s try to figure out where Foles will land with the help of some odds. 

OK, let’s go team by team: 

Miami Dolphins
It seems like the Dolphins are ready to move on from Ryan Tannehill as their starting quarterback after six seasons and a 42-46 record. Cutting Tannehill would leave a ton of dead money ($13 million) but would also save $13 million in cap room. If the Dolphins really want to move on, the dead money will be worth it. 

Keeping with the theme of 13, that’s where the Dolphins pick this year. Now, just a few years ago, the Eagles were able to move from 13 to 8 to 2 to draft Carson Wentz, but unless the Dolphins are willing to do that, they’re kind of in no man's land in the middle of the first round wanting a QB in a QB-deficient draft. So maybe they need to go the free agency route. 

Adam Gase is gone and the presumed new head coach will be the Patriots’ Brian Flores. He’ll likely be hired whenever the Patriots’ season is over, either this weekend or in a couple weeks. Maybe he’ll sign the guy he watched outduel Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII. 

Washington Redskins 
Last offseason, they picked up Alex Smith, but his injury is really significant, so it’s time to find somebody new. It would make more sense for them to try to get a young quarterback to build around, but they have the 15th pick. 

And Dan Snyder can probably talk himself into thinking they’re a QB away. Remember when the Redskins got off to their 6-3 start in 2018. Well, then they had crazy injuries, so he might look at his team and think it's a lot closer than it actually is. 

Jacksonville Jaguars 
These odds actually came out before we learned Jacksonville was about to hire John DeFilippo as its offensive coordinator, so you can argue it should be even higher on the list now. Flip coached Foles for just one year in Philly, but that year ended with a parade on Broad Street. 

The Jags had a disastrous 5-11 season in 2018, but that came after they were 10-6 the year before. So if they think there’s still enough talent in that locker room to be a playoff team, they might just be one QB away. While Foles threw some interceptions this year, he ain’t Blake Bortles in that respect. He could give the Jags the chance to win close, defensive games as long as he doesn’t make mistakes. 

They do have the seventh pick, though, so maybe the Jaguars ought to think about drafting a QB. 

Denver Broncos
Case Keenum is still under contract in Denver, but it shouldn’t let that change anything it does at the quarterback position. In fact, John Elway told Peter King that Keenum was more of a short-term fix. That doesn’t sound good for Keenum. 

Foles is still just 29, so it’s not like he couldn’t be a longer-term fix. And picking at 10th in the draft doesn’t guarantee the Broncos will be able to draft the next QB either. Foles might be as good an option as any. 

Philadelphia Eagles 
Howie Roseman said on Tuesday that the Eagles would like to keep Foles, but how realistic is that? They’ve committed to Carson Wentz being the quarterback, so can they afford to have an insurance policy of over $20 million? The problem here is that’s money they could use elsewhere to build a team around Wentz. And is it fair to the franchise quarterback to always be looking over his shoulder? Even Wentz admitted there’s an added level of pressure after all of Foles’ success. 

The flip side of this is that Wentz hasn’t stayed healthy. He’s been injured in both of the last two seasons and Foles has stepped in for the playoffs. We’d have to just trust that Wentz is going to stay healthy next season. As insurance policies go, Foles is the best one. 

New York Giants 
Eventually, the Giants have to move on from Eli Manning, right? They really should move on from the 38-year-old quarterback now and I think Foles would make a lot of sense. 

The Giants clearly have some offensive weapons and could use a steadying force like Foles, who has played for head coach Pat Shurmur before. 

The big fear about Foles is that he’ll only work in Philadelphia. Well, why not go to a landing spot with an offense that at least has some similarities? Remember, Shurmur was in Philly for Foles’ Pro Bowl 2013 season under Chip Kelly and comes from the Andy Reid tree, which means his offense has similarities to Doug Pederson’s in some ways too. From a purely football standpoint, I like the Giants as a landing spot. But there are some emotional hurdles to get over. 

Oakland Raiders
Head coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock seem to love Foles and they might be ready to move on from Derek Carr in Oakland or wherever the heck they’re going to play this season. Mayock and Gruden both have ties to Philly and are both very familiar with Foles. 

The Raiders also have three first-round picks, so if the Eagles end up trying to trade Foles instead of letting him walk, the Raiders have the firepower to get a deal done — if that’s the way they want to go. 

It doesn’t mean much, but Foles’ seven-touchdown game came against the Raiders in 2013. 

Carolina Panthers
Apparently, Cam Newton might be in danger of missing the 2019 season because of a shoulder injury. So if the Panthers think he’s not around in the 2019 season, they’ll need someone to play quarterback. Enter Foles? 

The problem here is that Foles wants to go to a good situation and I’m not sure this is it. Newton has one more year left on his contract after 2019, which means Foles would have to play well enough to make the Panthers change their organizational direction and go with him instead. Don’t know why he’d choose that as a free agent. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
The Bucs hired Bruce Arians as their head coach, but it seems like they’re sticking with Jameis Winston at QB. If there’s a change, maybe it would make sense for Foles. But if there isn’t, not sure why they’re on the list. 

A bonus one from me: Cincinnati Bengals
I’m not convinced the Bengals are going to stick with Andy Dalton, which would make Foles an attractive option, especially for new head coach Zac Taylor, who is the brother of Eagles QBs coach Press Taylor. The Bengals still have A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, so it might not be that bad of a landing spot for Foles.

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