When is it too early to start looking for concerts to attend in Minneapolis Super Bowl week? Also … Carson Wentz's toughness, Jahlil Okafor riding the bench, Japanese ceremonial tea houses, Hank Baskett, Robert Pollard side projects ... we've got it all covered in today's Part 2 of this week's Roob's 25 Random Points!
1. For all his accomplishments — the touchdown passes, the first-down runs, the big plays — Wentz also deserves a tremendous amount of credit just for his toughness. What's he missed, six snaps in his career? How many times has he gotten clobbered and popped back up to throw a big touchdown pass, like he did on the Mack Hollins touchdown Monday night? Just by the nature of the way he plays, keeping plays alive with his legs, diving for extra yards, fighting off defenders in the pocket, Wentz is going to get hit a lot. For him to stand tall snap after snap, week after week is remarkable. Just another reason Wentz is such a natural leader. Just being out there for his team every single play no matter how hard he gets hit makes him a guy everybody on the roster wants to play hard for.
2. Bring on the rain Sunday. Bring on anything. It won't bother this football team. I don't know if I've ever seen a more focused group. The 2004 team was incredibly talented, but that team won despite the growing feud between Donovan and T.O. and the distractions their deteriorating relationship created. This team? Mature, focused, disciplined, serious-minded, goal-oriented. No excuses. Only hard work.
3. I just don't get not playing Okafor. Yes, he's a defensive liability, but not everybody in the NBA is going to be Rudy Gobert. Okafor has terrific offensive skills and is a competent rebounder. You mean to tell me he can't help this team more than Amir Johnson with 8-12 minutes off the bench? Jah is 21 years old. As a 19-year-old rookie, he averaged 7.0 rebounds and 17.5 points and shot 51 percent from the field! Do you know how many rookies have averaged 17 and 7 and made over half their shots in the last 25 years? Five. Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Karl Anthony-Towns and Okafor. Nobody's saying he's in the class of those other guys, but geez, he's a 21-year-old kid with a unique skill set. Why not coach him up and help him become the player you wish he was instead of burying him on the bench?
4. Phil Collins. Incredibly underrated drummer.
5. There are more fifth-round picks on the Eagles' roster (11) than first-round picks (10). I'm not sure what that means, but hey, it's working!
6. It's also remarkable to me how different this roster is from last year. There are 22 players on the 53 who weren't here last year. That's 42 percent! That's an incredible turnover. For a team to be able to incorporate 22 new players and play at the level the Eagles are playing at is a credit to Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas for bringing in the right guys but also to Doug Pederson and his staff for making it all work.
7. Jalen Mills is one of only three players in the NFL with two or more fourth-quarter interceptions. He's been really good this year.
8. I can't think of a single musical artist who I've changed my opinion about more dramatically over time than John Mayer. The dude has transformed himself from an irrelevant treacly pop singer-songwriter to an absolutely brilliant interpreter of Grateful Dead material and a worthy successor to Jerry Garcia in the Dead collective.
9. My Top 5 Robert Pollard non-GBV albums: 1. From a Compound Eye (Robert Pollard), 2. Blues and Boogie Shoes (Keene Brothers), 3. Choreographed Man of War (Robert Pollard and his Soft Rock Renegades), 4. Ask Them (Lexo and the Leapers), 5. Not in my Airforce (Robert Pollard).
10. No player in NFL history has more career TD catches of 85 yards or more than Hank Baskett. This blows my mind.
11. Minneapolis concerts already scheduled Super Bowl week: First Aid Kit, Josh Ritter, Marilyn Manson. Hmmm. Beat the 49ers, Broncos and Cowboys, and I start buying tickets!
12. There's a really cool exhibit at the Philadelphia Art Museum of Japanese ceremonial tea houses. One entire teahouse is recreated in its entirety, and the backstory is amazing. The museum sent someone to Japan in the 1920s to buy a teahouse and the museum's teahouse expert found one for sale on a property owned by noted Japanese architect Ögi Rodö. The teahouse was dismantled and shipped to Philadelphia, but the museum couldn't find anybody to put it back together. So it sat in storage for more than 30 years before it was finally restored and put on display. Now you know!
12½. Prediction: Wendell Smallwood's first career 100-yard rushing game comes against the 49ers on Sunday.