Eagles

Roob's 10 week-after Super Bowl observations

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Roob's 10 week-after Super Bowl observations

You thought the offseason meant the end of 10 Observations? No way! We'll keep it going as long as there are random observations to be made! 

In this edition, we check in on LeGarrette Blount, Joe Douglas, Zach Ertz, the Eagles' coaching staff and much more! 

1. LeGarrette Blount’s performance Sunday has kind of gone under the radar, but he had a brilliant Super Bowl, with 90 rushing yards on 14 carries, including a 36-yard run and a 21-yard touchdown. Blount averaged 6.4 yards per carry, highest in Super Bowl history by a back in his 30s (breaking the mark of 5.7 by the Bills’ Kenneth Davis in 1992). Blount is only the eighth back in history with two 20-yard runs in a Super Bowl and the third in the last 30 years. His 21-yard TD is seventh-longest in Super Bowl history and third-longest in the last 27 years. Blount had a rushing touchdown in all three postseason games and now has 11 career postseason rushing TDs, sixth-most in NFL history (behind five Hall of Famers). He’s the first player in Eagles history with a rushing TD in three straight playoff games. Blount’s 6.4 yards per carry average was also sixth-highest in Eagles history in any playoff game. I don’t know what Blount’s future is, but he was a beast this year. 

2. And I probably also haven’t written enough about how dominating the Eagles’ offensive line was in the Super Bowl and, really, the entire postseason. They just demolished people. Did Nick Foles even get touched last Sunday? Everything the Eagles wanted to do offensively, they were able to do. Run the ball. Throw deep. Move the chains. Convert on 3rd and 4th down. Foles dropped back 43 times and wasn’t sacked. That’s the third-most pass attempts in Super Bowl history without a sack. He dropped back 108 times in the postseason and was sacked twice — that’s the fourth-most pass attempts in postseason history without being sacked more than twice. The Eagles averaged 442 yards of offense in the playoffs, sixth-highest in NFL history. They’re the first team ever to average 300 passing yards and 120 rushing yards in a postseason. What the Eagles did on offense this postseason is nothing short of historic, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson as a group were one of the biggest reasons why.

3. There were 28 running backs drafted this year, but none of them was Corey Clement. There were 17 running backs drafted in 2010, but none of them was LeGarrette Blount. There were 12 running backs drafted in the first 148 picks in 2015, but none of them was Jay Ajayi. Those two undrafted running backs and a fifth-round pick combined for 255 yards of offense in the Super Bowl. Keep that in mind next time somebody tells you a kid won’t be a good NFL player because he had a bad combine or some nonsense.

4. I know he misses too many PATs but, man, those were a couple clutch field goals Jake Elliott made Sunday, especially the 46-yarder to make it an eight-point game with 1:05 left. Did you know Elliott — a rookie who began the year on the Bengals’ practice squad — became the first kicker in Super Bowl history to make two 40-yarders in a fourth quarter? And that he’s now responsible for two of the four-longest 40-yarders ever made in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl? In fact, Elliott is only the third kicker to make two 40-yarders in any Super Bowl (along with Jim Breech of the Bengals in 1988 and Garrett Hartley of the Saints in 2009). He may not be the most accurate kicker ever, but his mental toughness is off the charts. 

5. This time last year, the Eagles’ running backs were Wendell Smallwood, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner, and their receivers were Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, Bryce Treggs and Nelson Agholor.

6. It happened much later in his coaching career than Year 2, but a big part of Andy Reid’s downfall here was his inability to replace good assistant coaches as they left. That’s the challenge facing Doug Pederson right now. With John DeFilippo now running the Vikings’ offense and Frank Reich hired as the head coach of the Colts, I hope Duce Staley finally gets his chance at offensive coordinator — he’s been an assistant under Andy, Chip and Doug — and I would look for wide receivers coach Mike Groh to move over to quarterbacks, with Press Taylor moving up to wide receivers coach. Pederson has always been big on promoting from within, since it really helps develop a healthy culture. He may go outside on this one, but promoting Duce, Groh and Taylor makes sense.

7. People laughed at me when I said before the season that Zach Ertz was a top-five tight end in the NFL. Now I think he might be No. 2 behind Gronk, although it’s very close between Ertz and Travis Kelce. Including the postseason, Ertz had 92 catches, 1,016 yards and nine TDs this year. When the Eagles needed him most, on a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl, he was unstoppable. 

8. I wanted to try to put that Foles-to-Ertz fourth-down conversion on the game-winning drive into perspective, so I turned to the Pro Football Reference Super Bowl play finder and learned that there have been 54 fourth-down conversion attempts in Super Bowl history, but only 13 have been successful. Of those 13, six came with the game long decided. Of the remaining seven, only one was converted by a team that was trailing inside the 50. That was Brandon Jacobs’ two-yard run on a 4th-and-1 with 1:34 left and the Giants on their own 37-yard-line in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz. Seven plays later, Eli Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, and the Giants beat the Patriots 17-14. The "Philly Special" may be the greatest play in Super Bowl history, but this one — coming with the Eagles losing, inside midfield, with less than six minutes left — was the biggest play of the season. And Foles and Ertz were flat-out money.  

9. A quick Joe Douglas story: During last year's five-game losing streak, I ran into Joe on the field before a game and said something profound like, “Hey, Joe, wassup?” His answer: "The bleepity-bleep losing. I'm sick of the bleepity-bleep losing. I hate bleeping losing. BLEEP losing. I PROMISE we're going to get this turned around." I believed him.

10. I really hope the Eagles play in the Hall of Fame Game this summer, and with Dawk and T.O. both going in, I assume they will. It will make an already short offseason a week shorter, but Eagles fans deserve a Canton, Ohio, takeover weekend. It would also mean only … 174 days until the preseason opener!

10 Eagles observations, including the greatness of Reggie White

10 Eagles observations, including the greatness of Reggie White

A wild Nick Foles stat that has nothing to do with the Super Bowl, the miracle of the A.J. Feeley trade, the greatness of Reggie White and the bizarre career of Hank Baskett!

That's only a small sliver of the wonders that await you in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations! 

1. I can't even imagine an Eagles game without fans. I can imagine empty venues for other sports. I’ve watched some of those Korean baseball games over the past couple weeks and barely even notice there are no fans. Hockey and hoops, the crowds are more active and louder. But football? NFL? Eagles? The synergy between what’s happening on the field and the fans is so different in football than any other sport, and the old cliche about players feeding off the fans’ energy is very real. You can feel it. You can sense it. When the Linc erupts after an Eagles touchdown or big play, there’s literally nothing like it. It's not just cheering, it's an ocean of joyous noise that envelops your soul. I’d rather have Eagles football with no fans than no football at all, but I just can’t visualize Carson Wentz throwing a game-winning touchdown pass to Zach Ertz and … complete silence. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, it’s really going to be weird.   

2. One of the most amazing things about Nick Foles’ Eagles career has nothing to do with the Super Bowl or even the 2017 season. In 2013, Foles threw 27 touchdown passes in just 317 attempts. That’s the fewest attempts by any QB throwing at least 27 TDs in the last 44 years.

3. When I was putting together the all-time Eagles Never-Made-a-Pro Bowl teams last week, I was reminded of what Ron Baker said the day he announced his retirement at JFK Stadium at the start of training camp in the summer of 1989. Baker, a solid right guard, had played 11 NFL seasons as a 10th-round pick, the last nine seasons with the Eagles. He and Roynell Young were the only guys who played in the 1980 Super Bowl and were still with the Eagles in 1988 for the Fog Bowl. But when a 34-year-old Baker showed up for camp in 1989 and saw the Eagles’ depth chart, he knew it was time: “When I looked at the depth chart, I saw that I was on the fourth team, and I’ve been around long enough to know there is no fourth team.” And with that, he hung up the cleats and never looked back. Class act, Ron Baker.  

4. From 1997 through 1999, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Jon Gruden, Doug Pederson, Bill Callahan, Ron Rivera and Andy Reid were all with the Eagles as a player or coach. All seven became Super Bowl head coaches and all but Rivera and Callahan won. Those three teams Eagles teams? They went 14-33-1. 

5. The last time the Cowboys won playoff games in consecutive seasons was 1995 and 1996. The last time they even reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons was 2006 and 2007. 

6. I think back to training camp in 2011 when every fan in attendance at Lehigh could hear new defensive line coach Jim Washburn constantly berating and insulting his players in a way that was so inappropriate and so offensive and so demeaning I’m surprised Andy Reid let it continue. This went way beyond a coach being a hard-ass or a strict disciplinarian. This was awful. Reid finally fired Washburn halfway through the 2012 season, but a lot of damage had been done. I wouldn’t want that guy coaching my worst enemy.

7. Reggie White had 33 games as an Eagle with two or more sacks. Only six other Eagles have had 33 games with at least one sack.

8. It still blows my mind that the Eagles were able to trade A.J. Feeley to the Dolphins for a 2nd-round pick — a very high 2nd-round pick — after the 2003 season. What had A.J. done to convince the Dolphins he was their QB of the future? In 2002 he went 4-1 in relief of an injured Donovan McNabb, although he had just five TDs and five INTs and a modest 72.6 passer rating in those games. Nonetheless, the Dolphins not only traded the Eagles a 2nd-round pick, they gave A.J. a $3 million signing bonus when they restructured his deal. Feeley went 3-5 with 11 TDs and 15 INTs in eight starts in Miami before the Dolphins gave up on him, benching and eventually releasing him. The Eagles drafted Reggie Brown with the pick they got from the Dolphins — the 35th pick overall in 2005 — and Feeley wound up rejoining the Eagles and even threw a TD to Brown in a game against the Patriots. The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since making that trade.

9. Before last year, only four players in Eagles history had netted 150 yards both rushing and receiving over the last four games of a season (Wilbert Montgomery twice, Keith Byars in 1988, Herschel Walker in 1993 and Brian Westbrook twice). Last year, both Miles Sanders AND Boston Scott did it, making the Eagles the first team in NFL history with that distinction. Doug Pederson’s ability to effectively use both backs as receivers and runners with the wide receiver cupboard bare was a crucial dimension of the Eagles’ 4-0 finish. It will be interesting to see how Doug deploys his backs this year with presumably an upgraded wide receiving corps because they sure look like a lethal combination. Scott needs a role in this offense. 

10. Gotta finish with a great Hank Baskett stat! The fact that Baskett is one of only five players in NFL history with three career touchdown catches of at least 85 yards is one of the strangest things in football history. Hank only had three other touchdown catches in his career, none longer than 10 yards. He actually had three TD catches of at least 87 yards but NONE between 11 and 86 yards. That’s absurd.

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Howie Roseman’s 5 best trades as Eagles GM

Howie Roseman’s 5 best trades as Eagles GM

Howie Roseman is never afraid to be aggressive when it comes to making trades. 

Some of them work and some of them don’t. 

Roseman spent most of the last decade in charge of every Eagles trade. He has been the Eagles’ GM or de facto GM from 2010-14 and 2016-now. 

Here’s my ranking of the top five trades in Roseman’s time as the Eagles’ GM:

5. Trading Kevin Kolb to Arizona 

Back in July of 2011, the Eagles shipped Kolb to the Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick. While with the Eagles, Kolb had started just seven games and with the emergence of Mike Vick had become expendable. So the Eagles flipped him to the Cardinals who were banking on the hope that Kolb could become their guy. 

Kolb started 14 games for the Cardinals over the next two seasons. He had a 6-8 record and 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Kolb was out of the league not long after because of post-concussion syndrome. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles got DRC, who played two years in Philly. They also got the 51st selection in the draft, which they turned into Vinny Curry (at 59) and Brandon Boykin (at 123). 

4. Cutting ties with Donovan McNabb 

Roseman was the Eagles’ GM for technically just a few months before the Eagles traded away the best quarterback in franchise history. While the credit for this move should undoubtedly go to Andy Reid, Roseman was a part of it. It wasn’t just that the Eagles got back three draft picks, including a 2nd-rounder, when they traded him away on Easter Sunday, it was that they made the shrewd decisions to move on from McNabb when they spotted the decline. 

The Eagles used the three picks they got from Washington on Nate Allen, Trevor Laws and Quintin Demps. Meanwhile, McNabb played just 13 games with the Redskins in 2010 and was out of the league two years later. 

3. Trading for Darren Sproles 

In March of 2014, the Eagles were able to send a 5th-round pick to New Orleans for Sproles, who was one of the most exciting offensive weapons and return men in the league. While Sproles was good in New Orleans and San Diego before that, he ended up being a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons with the Eagles. Sproles put together a borderline Hall of Fame career and the Eagles got the best seasons from him. 

Meanwhile, the Saints used that 4th-round pick on linebacker Ronald Powell, who lasted one year in New Orleans. 

2. Dumping Sam Bradford  

With the 2016 season days away, the Eagles decided that Carson Wentz was ready to be their starter. The problem was that they still had Bradford under contract and had been preparing him to start. But Teddy Bridgewater suffered a horrific injury on Aug. 30 and the Vikings found themselves in desperate need of a starting quarterback. 

Give the Eagles a ton of credit here: They were very opportunistic. They were able to get back a first-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2017. Remember, the Eagles weren’t supposed to have a first-round pick in 2017 after trading up to get Wentz, so this move recovered that pick. 

Eventually, that first-rounder became Derek Barnett and that fourth-rounder became Josh Sweat. Bradford played in 17 games for the Vikings in 2016-17 and posted a 9-8 record. 

1. Unloading Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso 

The trade with Miami in 2016 was the first step toward the Eagles’ landing Carson Wentz at No. 2. They unloaded two players who weren’t in their future to move up from the 13th draft pick to the 8th. This trade put them in a position to eventually trade up to the No. 2 spot to get Wentz. The price to trade up from 8 to 2 was steep — ultimately it was worth it — but the master stroke was moving two players they didn’t want as the first step to getting their franchise quarterback. 

This is a trade Roseman has talked about a lot. It came together because of Roseman’s long-standing relationship with then-Dolphins GM Mike Tannenbaum and began at the NFL combine that year. It wasn’t a complete loss for the Dolphins as Alonso played three full seasons for them, but Maxwell was cut two games into the 2017 season. 

Honorable mentions: Trading for DeMeco Ryans, Trading for Jay Ajayi, trading for Tim Jernigan, dumping DeMarco Murray. 

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