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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