Roob's 10 Random Bye Week Eagles Observations

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Roob's 10 Random Bye Week Eagles Observations

A sign of progress, a big surprise and tons more pop up in this week's bye week edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations.
1. They’re 4-4. Their losses have been by a total of 15 points. They have five division games left. They just added Golden Tate. They have one of the most gifted quarterbacks in football. The second-half schedule is brutal, with five games against teams that went into this Sunday with a winning record, including the unbeaten Rams and red-hot Saints, both on the road. It's been a rough first half, but I don’t see an 8-8 team. I see a talented team that’s underachieved, a team that’s given games away. But to get to the playoffs the Eagles' margin for error is slim. The Redskins only have to go 5-4 to get to 10-6, so the Eagles’ route to winning the division might have to be, sweep the Redskins and go 4-2 in the rest of their games. That means if they lose to the Rams and Saints, they’ll have to sweep the Cowboys and beat the Texans and Giants at home. The season could very well come down to Washington the last day of the season, and considering how bad the Eagles have been the first half, it’s a lot to ask. But I think they’re good enough to do it. So my second-half prediction is 6-2 to get to 10-6 and win the NFC East on a tiebreaker with the Redskins.

2. I’ve just about had it with Big V. If he continues struggling in the first half of the Dallas game Sunday night, I’m getting Jordan Mailata in there. I know he’s inexperienced, I know he’s raw, I know he’s untested. I don't care. I know he'd be an upgrade over Big V.
3. The Eagles’ last regular-season run from scrimmage of 22 yards or more was by Nate Sudfeld. It was his only career rushing attempt.
4. In 1995, the Eagles’ starting offensive line was Ron Heller, Dennis McKnight, Dave Alexander, Ron Solt and Antone Davis. And the Eagles are on pace to allow more sacks this year than that year.
5. Wendell Smallwood is on pace to be the Eagles’ leading rusher this year with 514 yards. The last time the Eagles didn’t have a 600-yard rusher was 1991, when James Joseph was their leading ground gainer with 440 yards.
6. The Eagles are riding a remarkable streak that has seen their quarterbacks — mainly Carson Wentz with a bunch of Nick Foles and one Sudfeld appearance — go 31 straight games without throwing more than one interception. That’s the fifth-longest streak in NFL history and five off the record set by the Vikings over the 2015 through 2017 seasons.
7. The most surprising thing in a first half full of surprises is the Eagles’ astounding lack of takeaways. Last year, with a lot of the same personnel, they were fourth in the NFL with 31. This year they’re tied for 27th with seven. They’ve never had fewer than seven takeaways after eight weeks in franchise history. It’s incredible really that the Eagles go into Week 9 ranked fifth in the NFL in fewest points allowed considering the lack of takeaways. They’re only the seventh defense in NFL history to allow fewer than 150 points through eight games despite seven or fewer takeaways. Just imagine a few INTs or fumbles here and there? This really could be very good defense and help the offense tremendously if they could just find a way to record some takeaways.
8. A sign of progress: In the Eagles’ first five games, they committed 43 penalties for 395 yards and nine first downs. In the last three, it’s been just 12 for 96 with two first downs.
9. The absence of a mid-range passing game has been a real issue for the Eagles this year, but Carson Wentz on Sunday hit five passes of 30 yards or more after hitting just seven in his first five starts this year. Better yet, none of the five were to Zach Ertz or Alshon Jeffery. He connected with Jordan Matthews twice (31, 36), Nelson Agholor (39), Dallas Goedert (32) and Wendell Smallwood (36). He became the first Eagles QB in 14 years to complete five passes of at least 30 yards in the same game. Donovan McNabb did it against the Packers in 2004 to T.O. (41, 45), Brian Westbrook (41, 50) and Freddie Mitchell (30).
10. Tate had more career 90-catch seasons before his 27th birthday than everybody who’s ever played for the Eagles combined.

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Jets ask for permission to interview Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas

Philadelphia Eagles

Jets ask for permission to interview Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas

It looks like familiarity with Jets head coach Adam Gase is a prerequisite for the GM job in New York.

For a while, we’ve heard reports that Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas is a favorite to replace Mike Maccagnan, but now we know his competition.

Douglas and Gase worked together briefly in Chicago for a season. Gase and Kelly worked together in Chicago and Denver.

Kelly is the Bears’ assistant director of player personnel. He just finished his second season in that role with Chicago. Kelly and Douglas also worked together in 2015, when Douglas was the Bears’ director of college scouting and Kelly was the Bears’ director of pro scouting.

It has been previously reported that Douglas is Gase’s pick for the job, so we’ll see how much power the head coach wields in this process.

There has also been a thought that Douglas to the Jets is a done deal. While that might be unsubstantiated, if the Jets do want to hire Douglas, they wouldn’t have to interview any more candidates than these two because Kelly would fulfill the Rooney Rule requirement. The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and GM jobs.

While losing Douglas would be a blow, the Eagles have likely been preparing for that possibility for a while.

"At some point, we are going to lose executives," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in March. "When you’re winning, you’re going to lose executives. I think we’re in a great position to be able to deal with that. We don’t want to put a cap on how many good executives we have in football operations. That would be a competitive mistake."

Douglas could theoretically wait for a more stable offer to appear, but there are just 32 of these jobs available. And if the Jets do give Douglas final say, it would probably be pretty hard for him to turn it down.

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Eagles backup quarterback spot appears to be Nate Sudfeld's to lose

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Eagles backup quarterback spot appears to be Nate Sudfeld's to lose

The Eagles aren’t saying it. Nate Sudfeld isn’t saying it. But Sudfeld is the Eagles’ backup quarterback.

Who an organization brings in this time of year to compete with its backup typically speaks volumes about how they feel about said backup. When executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman proclaimed in February the Eagles were looking at veteran signal callers, people thought Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, maybe Tyrod Taylor.

The Eagles used a fifth-round draft pick on Clayton Thorson and signed free agent Cody Kessler a couple weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Sudfeld received a second-round tender from the club as a restricted free agent this offseason — the second-largest qualifying offer — signing for over $3 million in April.

“It was really exciting,” Sudfeld said after Tuesday’s practice. “That really kind of gave me a vote of confidence and just was really exciting because again I wanted to be here and I have another year to keep getting better and developing here.”

Sudfeld’s contract isn’t guaranteed or anything, so in theory, Kessler — a former third-round pick with 12 not-awful starts under his belt — could steal the job. Yet, even listening to the language Eagles coach Doug Pederson used, it’s clear what the expectation is.

“Nate has an opportunity to really compete and solidify the No. 2 spot,” Pederson said on Tuesday. “He gets an opportunity and it’s a great opportunity for him to do that.

“Depth brings a lot of competition. At that spot, there is no exemption. Looking forward to that.”

Some might think it a gamble for the Eagles to hitch their wagon to a backup who’s thrown just 25 passes in NFL regular season games. Then again, the club’s trust in Sudfeld has never waned, going back to his rookie year in 2017 when he served as Nick Foles’ backup throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Clearly, the Eagles see something in the 25-year-old the rest of us simply haven’t yet had the chance to experience. They stashed him on the 53-man roster for the better part of two seasons. They’ve watched him grow as an athlete and quarterback.

“I feel like I’ve improved in a lot of ways since Washington,” Sudfeld said, referring to where he got his start as a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in 2016. “I think physically I’ve developed a lot. I think I was kind of a late bloomer, so I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the weight room, faster on the field. I just feel like physical development’s been huge. And then just being in the NFL a couple years, some great systems and great coaches, just understanding ball a lot more and seeing situations and being able to apply it.

“I think arm strength has improved, velocity, weight room just in general, core, everything. I just feel a lot better.”

That doesn’t mean the Eagles will simply give Sudfeld his spot. Kessler is an intriguing prospect — he was reasonably accurate and took care of the football (64.2 completion percentage and 5 interceptions in 17 career games) as a member of bad Browns and Jaguars squads. Thorson, too, while likely more of a project, could take a surprise leap at the next level.

Whether because he’s confident in his ability or simply understands the situation, Sudfeld doesn’t seem to be sweating the competition.

“Nothing’s ever going to be handed to you, and you don’t want it that way,” Sudfeld said. “There’s no sense of entitlement. Everything’s earned. I’m just trying to improve myself as much as possible, try to be the best version of myself, work on my craft. I know if I can keep improving and become a better player, it’ll all take care of itself.”

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