Eagles

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones, an unbelievable Sam Bradford stat and the continuing saga of Reb Russell.

It's all right here in this weekend's Roob's 10 Eagles Observations! 

1. I keep trying to convince myself, "This will be the year we see the real Sidney Jones." And coming out of last year, I really believed Jones, going into Year 4, had a chance to really get his legs healthy this spring and then show everybody in minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games that he could hold down the CB2 opposite Darius Slay. But if the curtailed offseason and preseason hurts anybody the most, it's Jones. The Eagles have made it clear Avonte Maddox is the projected starter, and as long Maddox stays healthy I don't see how Sidney can win the job. Without any spring workouts or preseason games? Can Jones do enough just in a few weeks of training camp practice to beat out Maddox? I don't think so.

2. Who has the highest 4th-quarter passer rating among Eagles quarterbacks? Going back to 1994, as far back as the Pro Football Reference database logs quarter-by-quarter stats, here's the surprising answer (minimum of 100 4th-quarter attempts):

95.9 ... Sam Bradford

88.4 ... Michael Vick

84.5 ... Carson Wentz

83.6 ... Donovan McNabb

81.9 ... Nick Foles

76.9 ... Rodney Peele

76.7 ... Mark Sanchez

70.3 ... Ty Detmer

64.1 ... Bobby Hoying

62.7 ... Randall Cunningham

59.0 ... Koy Detmer 

(Remember, this only includes Randall's last two years with the Eagles) 

3. As good as T.O. was in 2004, he was on his way to an even bigger season in 2005 before he imploded and got himself suspended. Owens was 47-for-763 with 6 TDs after seven games, which put him on pace for 107 catches and 1,744 yards with 13 TDs. The only players in NFL history to reach those plateaus in a season are Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce. T.O.'s 93.5 yards per game as an Eagle is 23 yards per game more than any other WR in franchise history. DeSean Jackson (69.7), Mike Quick (64.0), Irving Fryar (63.9) and Jeremy Maclin (63.6) are next.

4. If the NFL does wind up reducing rosters from 90 to 75 because of the curtailed or eliminated preseason and for social distancing purposes, the league needs to give each team the opportunity to retain the rights of some or all of the players they're forced to release. Maybe pay them a weekly reduced salary and let them participate in virtual meetings and remain part of the team without actually being at practice. It would be a shame to see the Eagles forced to cut ties with promising kids like Adrian Killians Jr., Grayland Arnold, Raequan Williams, Mike Warren, Sua Opeta or Deontay Burnett because of the current circumstances. The league and the NFLPA need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen.

5. I just remembered the Eagles paid Nelson Agholor $9.387 million last year.

6. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship, but by the early 1930s, they may have been the worst professional sports team in Philadelphia history. They won only 3 of their last 24 games and scored 7 or fewer points in 20 of those 24 games. 

7. What are the odds that the Eagles' two recent Hall of Famers — Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael — went to the same high school? Both graduated from Raines High in Jacksonville. Raines has produced numerous other NFL players, including Lito Sheppard, Shawn Jefferson and Ken Burrough, along with baseball's Vince Coleman. Surprisingly, 16 high schools produced multiple Hall of Famers, including one — George Washington in L.A. — that produced three (James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Bill Walsh). 

8. Carson Wentz's 32 wins are 15th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. He's also one of only five of the top 20 that didn't win a playoff game during those four years. The others are Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Steve Grogan, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Ryan won one in his 5th season, Manning in his 6th and Palmer in his 14th. Dalton and Grogan never did win one. One of these years, Wentz will win one. Right?

9. Donovan McNabb had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games by the end of his fourth season.

10. Everyone seemed to enjoy last week's excerpt from newspaper coverage of the Eagles' first game in franchise history in 1933, so here's an excerpt from the Inquirer story reporting the first win in franchise history, 6-0 over the Reds later in 1933: 

"Tall, slab-sided, loose-limbed Swede Hanson, the new Galloping Ghost of the commercial gridiron, raced over the last white stripe today, as the Philadelphia Eagles achieved their first conquest of the season, 6-0. Hanson, lean and lank and lantern jawed, was the hero of this game, as he has starred in all of the frays in which the Eagles have been a part. For two periods, the Birds and their Red foes battered away at the line or sought the air but all in vain. In the third quarter, however, the Wraymen turned into a devastating horde." 

The story goes on to describe Hanson's touchdown, the game's only score: 

"It was fourth down now and the goal line beckoning in tantalizing fashion straight ahead. Then Hanson and (Reb) Russell outwtitted their foes. Reb came tearing in as if to shoot off tackle. The Reds tumbled through upon the former Purple hero, however, who was ready for this emergency. As the gang tried to pile up, Russell flipped a lateral, straight and unerring, right into Hanson's arms. Like a flash, the Swede lighted out for the end, slipped past two tackles and went over the line."

Wraymen? Really? Remember, that team's coach was Lud Wray. Guess I should start calling the Eagles the Dougmen?

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5 things Dave would have been watching in tonight’s Eagles preseason opener

5 things Dave would have been watching in tonight’s Eagles preseason opener

In a normal offseason, in a normal summer, we’d be preparing to watch a football game tonight. The Eagles were scheduled to be in Indianapolis tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff of their preseason. 

Alas, this is not a normal summer. The entire preseason was canceled. 

So instead of watching the Eagles take on the Colts in Indianapolis tonight, Reuben Frank and I are left thinking about what we would have been watching. 

Here are five things Roob would have watched.

While some players won’t miss the preseason, I will. I love every bit of training camp and the preseason. There were plenty of things I wanted to watch too. 

Here are five: 

Jason Peters at right guard 

This would have been our first chance to see an experiment in game action. Obviously, if games were being played, Peters would have had practice time before them, but playing a new position in game action is much different. It really is a fascinating experiment with Peters this year. He’s 38 and has had a Hall of Fame career as a left tackle. But an injury to a great right guard forced the Eagles to bring Peters back at a different position on a different side of the line. I can’t wait to see how this works. But we’ll now have to wait for the regular season. 

Does the offense really look different? 

No, it’s unlikely the Eagles would have given away all their secrets in the preseason. But I really wonder what kind of changes we’ll see on offense after plenty of turnover on the offensive coaching staff. The Eagles have downplayed those changes and most of what they do in preseason would have been vanilla anyway … but maybe there would have been some hints tonight. I at least would have watched Carson Wentz closely to see any changes. 

Jalen Mills at his new position 

Like Peters, Mills is switching positions this season. He’s going from a cornerback in Jim Schwartz’s scheme to a safety and is pretty much replacing Malcolm Jenkins. That’s a big ask. No one expects Mills to be as good as Jenkins but based on how much Jenkins meant to the Eagles’ defense over the last several years, it’s fair to wonder how they’ll fare without him. Mills’ success or failure in this role will go a long way in determining that. 

The young running back battle 

As long as they’re healthy, I expect Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Corey Clement to be on the roster. But the Eagles traditionally keep four running backs, which leaves a three-man competition for that last spot. Elijah Holyfield is a second-year undrafted player who got here late last winter. And Mike Warren and Adrian Killins are undrafted rookies this year. Killins is a speed demon, so his skills should show up in practice. But Holyfield and Warren are more known for their between-the-tackles running style. It’s awfully hard to replicate that style in practices. 

The linebacker rotation 

Sure the Eagles drafted two linebackers and they added Jatavis Brown. But Brown retired, Davion Taylor is raw and Bradley was a 6th-round pick. So that means all their additions might not amount to a ton in 2020. And they lost Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill to free agency, so they return a group of Nathan Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley and Alex Singleton. We have a lot of questions about this group and we would have seen the rotation start to come together tonight. As it is, we’ll just have to watch closely in training camp. 

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5 things Roob would have been watching in tonight's Eagles presason opener

5 things Roob would have been watching in tonight's Eagles presason opener

I love preseason games. 

There, I said it.

Blowouts, scoreless ties, endless fourth quarters in empty stadiums? 

I love every minute of it.

Because those games are our first, best and in some cases only chance to see a lot of the young players that we've spent the last few months talking about.

Preseason games might not be great football, but to the truly hard-core football fans, they're always fascinating and revealing.

The Eagles' preseason opener would have been tonight in Indianapolis against Frank Reich's Colts, but for us preseason fans, we'll have to wait another year.

If the Eagles did play tonight, Dave Zangaro and I would have been at Lucas Oil Stadium soaking it all in.

Instead, we figured we'd share our top five things we would have been looking out for if there were a game.

Here's Dave's

And here are mine:

Davion Taylor

I would have been interested in Taylor, the rookie 3rd-round pick out of Colorado, even before Jatavis Brown retired. Now, there's even more of a spotlight on the Eagles' young linebackers. Taylor and Brown don't play the same position, but there will definitely be more reps to go around, and if Taylor looks like he belongs he'll be in the mix for playing time. Taylor just hasn't played much football and losing the preseason doesn't help, but you'd want to see how comfortable he looks in coverage, which is where he's most likely to make an impact here.

Jalen Hurts

Whether it's Randall as a rookie, Donovan as a rookie, Nick Foles or Carson Wentz at rookies, you always love seeing the young quarterbacks play in the preseason. Not so much the stats they put up but just how they carry themselves, how they lead the offense, how comfortable they look in game situations, how they bounce back after mistakes. Hurts doesn't project to play QB this year, but he's one guy who really could have used four preseason games to get some valuable reps that the Eagles hope he doesn't get during the season.

Shareef Miller

The return of Vinny Curry raises some questions about Miller, questions he could have gone a long way toward answering in the preseason. He was one guy I really would have liked to see after he sat the entire 2019 season. The preseason games would have shown whether he developed more moves, how he held up against the run and what kind of energy he brings to the defensive front. It's been a long time since Miller played any meaningful snaps, and it might be a long time until he plays anymore. 

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

This is an obvious one. JJAW's rookie year was awfully disappointing, and we all would have wanted to see him go out in the preseason games and use his frame to get position against corners and secure the football, get yards after the catch, and most of all just show confidence and a connection with whichever quarterback he's out there with. I would have expected a guy like JJAW to get a ton of reps in the preseason games and work against some 2nd- and 3rd-team d-backs where he'd have a huge advantage, catch some passes and feel good about his performance. It's a shame he won't get that chance.

John Hightower and Quez Watkins

It's never easy for rookie wide receivers to flourish in the preseason games. They're often just over-matched making that leap from college to the NFL, where cornerbacks can be so tough and physical and keep you from getting releases off the line of scrimmage. We all know Hightower and Watkins can motor. But like most young NFL receivers, the big question isn't how fast they are, it's how well they adjust to the NFL game, and it would have been fun to see if these two rookies could translate their blazing speed into getting open down the field and making plays.

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