Eagles

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.

More on the Eagles

Eagles snap counts: Mack Hollins has become invisible

Eagles snap counts: Mack Hollins has become invisible

Remember when Mack Hollins had nine catches for 112 yards in a two-week span? 

It actually happened in Week 2 and Week 3 — of this season! — but that feels like it was years ago at this point. 

Since then, Hollins has disappeared and the former fourth-round pick was completely invisible again in Sunday night’s 37-10 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. 

Hollins, 26, played 30 snaps and was targeted just once. He didn’t catch a pass. 

That means that in the last four weeks, Hollins has played 138 offensive snaps. All he has to show for it is one catch for 13 yards on six targets. In the last three games, he’s played 98 snaps without a catch. 

It seems nearly impossible for someone playing as much as Hollins to be a complete non-factor, but here we are. 

And to make matters worse, since Hollins is playing so much on offense, he isn’t playing special teams, where he’s supposedly good. He had just three special teams snaps Sunday. 

More offensive notes 

• To be fair to Hollins, there wasn’t a ton of offensive production from anyone on Sunday aside from Dallas Goedert, who had four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown on 36 snaps (but he did fumble). 

Nelson Agholor: 57 snaps, 2 catches, 24 yards, 4 targets
Alshon Jeffery: 57 snaps, 2 catches, 38 yards, 5 targets
Zach Ertz: 49 snaps, 2 catches, 38 yards, 5 targets 

• For the first time since the Lions game, Miles Sanders (33) had more snaps than Jordan Howard (23). Sanders again struggled on the ground, picking up 21 yards on six carries. Howard went 11 for 50. 

• The entire O-line played every snap, including Andre Dillard, making his first-career start at left tackle. 

Offense

Andre Dillard: 61 snaps (100%)
Isaac Seumalo: 61 (100%) 
Brandon Brooks: 61 (100%) 
Lane Johnson: 61 (100%) 
Jason Kelce: 61 (100%)
Carson Wentz: 61 (100%) 
Nelson Agholor: 57 (93%) 
Alshon Jeffery: 57 (93%) 
Zach Ertz: 49 (80%) 
Dallas Goedert: 36 (59%) 
Miles Sanders: 33 (54%) 
Mack Hollins: 30 (49%) 
Jordan Howard: 23 (38%) 
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 12 (20%) 
Boston Scott: 8 (13%)

Defensive notes

• Sidney Jones was not on the injury report all week, but still didn’t play on Sunday. Craig James got four snaps over Jones. It seems like Jones might have been benched. Ronald Darby, coming back from a hamstring injury, didn’t play at all either. 

• In his first game action in nearly a year, Jalen Mills played 64 snaps (91%) and held up fairly well. It was impressive he was able to play as much as he did. 

• Nate Gerry played all 70 defensive snaps, followed by Kamu Grugier-Hill (59) and T.J. Edwards (22). In addition to his 70 defensive snaps, Gerry played 17 on special teams. That’s a really heavy workload and Gerry struggled on defense. 

• In addition to Gerry, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod played all 70 snaps. For the season, Jenkins is 475/475. 

• Since Hassan Ridgeway got hurt, Akeem Spence played 47 snaps, his highest total yet with the Eagles. 

Defense 

Malcolm Jenkins: 70 (100%)
Nate Gerry: 70 (100%) 
Rodney McLeod: 70 (100%)
Jalen Mills: 64 (91%) 
Rasul Douglas: 63 (90%)
Kamu Grugier-Hill: 59 (84%)
Derek Barnett: 53 (76%) 
Fletcher Cox: 51 (73%) 
Brandon Graham: 50 (71%) 
Akeem Spence: 47 (67%) 
Orlando Scandrick: 36 (51%) 
Vinny Curry: 26 (37%) 
Andrew Sendejo: 24 (34%) 
Josh Sweat: 23 (33%) 
Hassan Ridgeway: 23 (33%) 
T.J. Edwards: 22 (31%) 
Daeshon Hall: 9 (13%) 
Duke Riley: 5 (7%)  
Craig James: 4 (6%) 
Rudy Ford: 1 (1%)

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More on the Eagles

The question hanging over Eagles' locker room after awful loss in Dallas

The question hanging over Eagles' locker room after awful loss in Dallas

ARLINGTON, Tex. — Some guys were angry. Some guys were pissed. More than a few seemed near tears.

When you get blown out twice in eight days, the second time by your biggest rival in a nationally televised battle for first place in the division, the only real way to react is by playing a whole lot better.

But the question hanging over the visiting locker room at AT&T Stadium late Sunday night was whether the Eagles are good enough to do that.

Right now, it sure doesn’t seem that way.

“Ultimately, if the players here can’t do it, that’s how this business works, they’ll find somebody else,” Lane Johnson said. “So that’s always in the back of everybody’s mind. Moving forward it’s a kill or be killed world. Knowing that, we’ve got to move forward.”

The 38-20 loss to the Vikings seemed like a low point.

A week later, the Eagles suffered their worst loss to the Cowboys since a 34-0 embarrassment at the Vet in 1998.

But that was Troy Aikman and one of the NFL’s best teams vs. Bobby Hoying and one of the worst. 

This was different.

This was supposed to be a chance for the Eagles to bounce back from a bad loss in Minneapolis and lay claim to first place in the division.

Instead, they suffered their second-worst loss of the Doug Pederson Era behind only the 48-7 clunker in New Orleans last November.

But that was a Saints team that would go on to win 13 games. This was a Cowboys team that had lost three games in a row, including one to the lowly Jets.

It can’t happen. But it did happen.

“Tonight was embarrassing,” Zach Ertz said. “One of the most embarrassing games I’ve ever been a part of here in Philly. I take a lot of pride in playing for the Eagles, I take a lot of pride playing for this city. We took one on the chin today against a team that we hate. Simple as that. I feel bad for the fans, honestly. It was a pitiful performance. We’re 3-4, not where I thought where we were going to be.”

How bad was it?

• This is only the sixth time since 1977 the Eagles have lost back-to-back games by at least 18 points. 

• This is only the ninth time in franchise history the Eagles have allowed 37 points in back-to-back games — only the third time in the last 30 years.

• Not counting games played with replacement players during the 1987 strike, this was only the fourth time in franchise history the Eagles have allowed 24 first-half points in back-to-back games. It also happened in 1970, 2005 and 2015.

“On prime-time, we went out there and got our asses kicked,” said Dallas Goedert, whose first-quarter fumble led to the Cowboys’ first touchdown. “That’s pretty embarrassing.”

The defense was terrible, but they were put in some terrible positions. Only one of the Cowboys’ TD drives went more than 45 yards.

But they did allow more than 400 yards, and when the Cowboys did get those turnovers, the defense didn’t put up much resistance.

The Cowboys ran for 189 yards against the NFL’s No. 2 run defense — 111 by Ezekiel Elliott — and Amari Cooper jumped off the injury report for 5-for-106 receiving.

“That is not what we do,” Fletcher Cox said. “That’s not our defense, that’s not how we do things around here. We have to fix it. We’re running out of time right now. We have to fix it now with the guys we got. We can’t make any excuses, we have to get our stuff together.”

As bad as the Eagles’ defense was, the offense was worse.

Hapless. Clueless. Hopeless.

The Eagles committed four turnovers, got just four catches for 62 yards from their wide receivers, once again didn’t hit any big plays, couldn’t protect Carson Wentz and generally just looked like it was the first day of OTAs.

“There was no run game, was no pass game, (no) rhythm,” Johnson said. “You saw that. No rhythm. No consistency. When I was watching across the field, Dallas, quick game, quick game, you could just see a rhythm. I feel like that’s something we were missing.”

It’s gotten that bad. 

The Pro Bowl right tackle, who had one of his worst games in years, was admiring the other team’s offense.

“There are really no excuses,” he said. “It’s make or break time. We’ll find out what we’re made of and what this team is made of moving forward here in the next few weeks.” 

It sure won’t be easy.

The Eagles’ next four opponents are a combined 19-6.

“Tough loss last week to the Vikings, tough loss today,” Ertz said. “We’re going to see what the character of this team is these next two weeks. We're going to see what type of team we are, see what type of fight we have in this locker room. I can promise you, I'm going to do everything I have to win these next two games. It kills me. This feeling kills me, honestly.”

Does that feeling kill enough of the guys in the locker room?

Does it really?

Honestly, it was hard to answer that yes Sunday night. We’ll know for sure soon.

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