Is Miles Sanders ranked fairly? What have Joe Flacco and Ron Jaworski done that no other quarterback has ever done? And celebrating Carson Wentz's "new passion for the game."
It's all here in a July 4 weekend edition of Roob's random Eagles offseason observations!
1. My first reaction when I saw that Pro Football Focus had ranked Sanders as the 19th-best running back in the NFL was surprised. He’s gotta be higher than that! Then I started really looking a little deeper into it, and I realized that actually is just about the right place for him.
The potential is there for him to be a top-10 back and you hope he can be more consistent this year with presumably the offense operating at a more efficient level, a healthier O-line in front of him and more balanced play-calling. But the reality is that Sanders’ 2020 season was marked by inconsistency, fumbles, dropped passes and injuries, and if he’s going to be a top-10 player, he has to get past all that and perform at a high level every week.
Sanders is only signed through 2022, so we’re getting close to the point where the Eagles will have to make a decision about him. This year is going to answer a lot of those questions.
2. I read where Wentz has a “new passion for the game.” So he wasn’t passionate about football last year when the Eagles were paying him $32 million per year?
3. This is crazy: The last Eagles QB-WR duo that connected on at least 20 touchdown passes was Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens. Despite playing only 21 games together, they connected on 20 TD passes. And they hated each other for a third of those 21 games!
The last QB-WR combo before them to connect on 20 passing touchdowns was Randall Cunningham to Calvin Williams, with 21.
Can you imagine what these two would have accomplished together if they had just gotten along?
4. I think about Ryan Mathews a lot. Talented kid. Averaged 4.6 yards per carry in his two years as an Eagle — that’s fourth highest in franchise history by a running back (minimum 250 carries), and in 2016 he scored nine TDs in just 13 games before suffering what was initially called a stinger and was eventually diagnosed as a herniated disc. Mathews underwent surgery and was out of the league at 29. He was never in another training camp, never worked out for another team as far as I know, has never been on social media, hasn’t done an interview since he retired, isn’t coaching anywhere. It’s like he just disappeared off the face of the Earth.
Mathews is one of only eight NFL players since 1950 who played his final season in his 20s and scored at least nine TDs in his final season. He never said much, rarely spoke to the media, but he always ran the ball ferociously hard. Never avoided contact. Played every snap like he had something to prove. That’s admirable but it probably cost him several years of his career. Wherever he is, I hope he’s doing OK.
5. Jake Elliott is the only kicker in history to make two 40-yard field goals in a fourth quarter of a Super Bowl. Since he made those kicks as a rookie — from 42 and 46 yards — he’s made only 21 of 32 field goal attempts from 40 yards and out. That’s 65.6 percent and that’s worst of the 17 NFL kickers who’ve attempted at least 32 40-yarders.
6. I’m super curious about Landon Dickerson. He could either go down in history as an injury-prone total waste of a second-round pick disaster or he could become a Pro Bowl interior lineman for the next decade. And nobody has any idea which way this will go. The only thing that would surprise me is if Dickerson doesn’t start at least a few games at some point this year. Who knows where, but the way this team has been decimated by injuries the last few years, it’s hard to imagine the interior of the O-line staying intact for 17 games, especially at their age. You hope nobody gets hurt, but does anybody really expect that?
7. It’s been 14 years since a player the Eagles drafted had an interception in the playoffs. It was 2002 second-round pick Sheldon Brown in 2007 against the Giants.
8. Reading about Ernie Steele over the past few days makes me wonder why he’s not in the Eagles Hall of Fame. Steele spent the 1942 through 1948 seasons with the Eagles, rushed for 1,337 yards with a 5.2 average, caught 31 passes for 520 yards for a 16.8 average, scored 17 touchdowns, had 24 interceptions, averaged 14.7 yards on 55 punt returns and 20.1 yards on 37 kick returns. The 14.7 punt return figure is highest in NFL history (minimum 50 returns) by more than a half a yard.
Steele is the Eagles' record holder among running backs in rushing average, he’s the franchise record holder in punt return average and he’s eighth in interceptions. He’s one of three players in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and 20 interceptions (all played in the 1940s), and his 5.2 average is highest of those three. Not only that, his fourth-quarter interception clinched the 1948 NFL Championship Game — the last game he ever played. Let's get this guy in the Eagles Hall of Fame!
9. Jalen Hurts stat of the week: Hurts averaged 13.8 yards per pass last year and 5.6 yards per rush. He became the first rookie in 73 years to average 13.8 and 5.6 (minimum 100 passing attempts, 50 rushing attempts).
10. Flacco was at Jaworski’s charity golf tournament last weekend in Egg Harbor City. If they wanted to, they could have compared notes because they’re the only quarterbacks in NFL history to win a playoff game despite a passer rating below 15. Jaws had a rating of 12.3 when the Eagles beat the Cowboys in the 1980 NFC Championship Game, and Flacco had a rating of 10.0 when the Ravens beat the Patriots in the 2009 wild-card round.
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