Eagles

Slow starts, backup quarterback and more in Roob's random Eagles points

Slow starts, backup quarterback and more in Roob's random Eagles points

A theory about the Eagles' slow first quarters, the No. 2 quarterback, an all-time great offensive line and lots more in this weekend's Roob's Random Eagles Observations!

But first? Five prominent players who played for both the Falcons and Eagles: Claude Humphrey, Michael Vick, Ike Reese, Mike Zandofsky and of course Ed Jasper.

OK, carry on!

1. Nobody seems to have a idea why the Eagles keep getting off to slow starts, but here’s a theory: The numbers say Doug Pederson isn’t nearly as aggressive a play caller in the first quarter as he is later in the game. Under Pederson, the Eagles have thrown the ball less in the first quarter — by far — than any other quarter. It’s 60.4 percent in the first quarter and 65.4 percent the rest of the game (including 69.0 percent in the second quarter, which could be a direct response to the slow starts.) The numbers seem to say Pederson really wants to establish the run early, but the offense doesn’t take off until he starts chucking it. Something to keep an eye on.

2. If the refs hadn’t made that horrible holding call on JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Miles Sanders would have had the longest TD run by an Eagle in his first NFL game since Charlie Garner’s 28-yarder against the 49ers in 1994 at Candlestick.

3. A lot is made of the Falcons’ home-field advantage, whether it was at the Georgia Dome or the new building, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But interesting to note that Matt Ryan was 33-5 at home in his first five seasons, but he's 24-24 the last six. Since opening day 2013, the Falcons actually have only the 22nd-best home record in the NFL. The Eagles actually have a better road record during that span (25-23) than the Falcons have at home.

4. On an Eagle Eye podcast last week, Dave Zangaro and I shared some “bold predictions” for the 2019 season, and Dave’s was that Isaac Seumalo would make the Pro Bowl. Outrageous? Maybe not. He’s come a long, long way from the guy who got benched two years ago. He looked pretty stout in the Redskins game.

5. I like that Pederson gave a shoutout to Torrey Smith Friday after the veteran receiver announced his retirement. Smith didn’t do much during his one regular season with the Eagles — he only had more than 30 yards three times — only once after Week 5. Then came the playoffs, and Smith was huge, with 13-for-157 and that 41-yard TD in the NFC Championship Game. Three of his six biggest games of the season came in the playoffs, and he was very good in the Super Bowl, with 5-for-49. For a guy who averaged 31 yards in an Eagles uniform, he played a major role in the franchise’s only championship in the last half century. Was he a great player? Nah. But he sure was an important one. And a hell of a good guy. I wish him well in whatever's next.

6. If it was my call, Nate Sudfeld would be No. 2 when he’s healthy and not Josh McCown. I know McCown has a ton of experience, but I just trust Sudfeld more.

7. The Eagles have only started out 2-0 four times since 1994. And they only made the playoffs one of those four times — in 2004. But the last 12 times they’ve been 1-1 they’ve reached the playoffs 10 times. So if they do lose Sunday — and I don’t think they will — don’t panic!

8. Carson Wentz can really shut a lot of people up Sunday if he can beat a good team on the road early in the season. Now, we don’t know if the Falcons will finish with a winning record, but Wentz is 4-10 in 14 career starts on the road against teams that had a winning record at the end of the season. Wentz is an elite quarterback no matter what happens in Atlanta, but a big-time performance would go a long way toward winning back some of the doubters.

9. There have only been five seasons in franchise history the Eagles have allowed fewer than two sacks per game. Honestly, if this group stays healthy, I’d be surprised if they’re not in the 26-28 range at the end of the season. With this O-line? Definitely.  

10. This is kind of amazing: With his five catches Sunday, Zach Ertz passed Carroll Dale and Keith Jackson and moved into 27th place in NFL history among tight ends with 442 career catches, and he’s only 56 catches from the top 20. If he catches 80 passes this year, he’ll be 16th. If he catches another 80 next year, he’ll be 8th. He’s 28.

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NFL Week 15 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

NFL Week 15 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

Here are my games to watch for in Week 15 of the NFL season:

Bears at Packers — Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
The Bears are growling again. They have three straight wins and are playing like a playoff team. The only problem is their many stumbles along the way have them at just 7-6, and currently the No. 8 seed in the NFC playoff pitcure. They travel to Green Bay with revenge on their minds, still remembering the season-opening loss to the Packers. That the Packers are 10-3 — currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC — is amazing in itself. Defensively, they stop either the run or the pass but never both in a game. Offensively, they don’t score a lot of points and rarely win impressively, but the bottom line is more times than not they have found a way to win. First-year head coach Matt LeFleur has his squad believing in his system. The Pack will rack up their 11th W at Lambeau.

Texans at Titans — Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS

One team is exciting by land, the other by air. Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins gives defenses fits weekly. Tennessee RB Derrick Henry is a battering ram. These two are currently tied for the lead in the AFC South but after getting blasted by Denver last week, Houston is still in control based on best win percentage in division games. The Titans are currently the No. 7 seed. Since QB Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota after Week 6, the Titans have won six of their last seven and four in a row. Houston has the capability of rising up for big games with wins over the Patriots and Chiefs, but the Titans are hot, and I’m going with the hot team at home. Side note: They'll meet again Week 17.

Vikings at Chargers — Sunday, 4:05 p.m. on CBS

The only thing the Chargers have left to play for is pride and the Vikings are jockeying for better seeding and a possible division title. Under Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have not fared well when traveling west, sporting a 1-6 record in road games played in the Mountain or Pacific time zones. Two of the Chargers' five wins have come against the NFC North. The Vikings' defense is starting to jell again and they’ll need cohesiveness on D because Philip RIvers' offense can light it up at any given moment. The Vikings know what’s at stake — it wont be easy, but they’ll find a way to get the job done.

Rams at Cowboys — Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Don’t look now, but the Rams are starting to play like the team that represented the NFC in last season’s Super Bowl. They’ve won three in a row with the offense functioning like a well-oiled machine and the defense making plays. As for Dallas, fans are calling for heads to roll, starting with head coach Jason Garrett. They’ve lost three straight and haven’t beaten a quality opponent all season. With that said, they somehow still control the NFC East. They have the the talent all over the field, yet don’t have the wins to show for it. What should have been a promising season will be a disaster if they don’t find a way to rebound and make the playoffs. Sorry, Dallas, until you prove otherwise, you’re just not ram tough enough to win this one.

Bills at Steelers — Sunday, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Just when it looked like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin would have to endure his first losing season in Pittsburgh, his squad has risen from the ashes. A team that was 1-4 at one point is now 8-5, riding a three-game winning streak, and currently the sixth seed in the AFC. What’s even more impressive is that Tomlin is using his third QB of the season. Rookie free agent Devlin “Duck” Hodges has been on the winning side on all three of his starts. The defense has tightened the loose gaps and is playing 'Burgh ball. The Bills have been writing an incredible story of their own. They are currently the fifth seed and just one game behind New England in the AFC East. Buffalo is striving for its first 10-win season since 1999. It will also be Buffalo’s first Sunday night appearance in 12 years. Two good defenses in this one. Two teams hoping to move one step closer to solidifying a playoff spot. This one has the makings of a brass knuckles brawl with the Steelers delivering the final knockout blow.

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Here comes wide receiver Robert Davis … to save the day?

Here comes wide receiver Robert Davis … to save the day?

He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong. 

Can he play? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. 

Meet Robert Davis. He’s the 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver who once ran a 4.44 at the combine and tested through the roof. He’s also the receiver whom the Eagles called up from their practice squad earlier this week after even more injuries at the position. 

It’s probably unfair to expect a 24-year-old receiver with four career games and one career catch under his belt to suddenly cure all the Eagles’ ails at wide receiver. But here we are.  

I tweeted that video on Thursday and most of the responses were hilarious. Some were tongue-in-cheek, like suggesting that since he caught a ball the Eagles should sign him a long-term deal. But some were genuine — in that, hey, here’s a guy with an impressive frame and possibly some untapped potential. Heck, it’s gotten so bad at receiver, he’ll surely help, right? 

Last week’s 23-17 win over the Giants should be remembered as the practice squad game because three guys — Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Greg Ward Jr. — all played a big part of the victory and all three were on the practice squad less than two months earlier. 

So … on one hand, Davis uses that as encouragement. Hey, if they can do it, so can I. 

On the other hand, maybe there are now some unfair and unrealistic expectations on just how big of an impact Davis will be able to have in his first game with the Eagles. 

“We’re all competitors,” Davis said. “That’s why we’re in the NFL. Seeing [Ward] go out there and have success, I want to go out there and have success, too.”

The Redskins saw that potential in Davis when they drafted him in the sixth round out of Georgia State back in 2017. It’s pretty easy to see why they used a pick on him. 

Despite his athleticism, Davis split time between the 53-man roster and the practice squad as a rookie and then broke his leg in 2018. Davis came back in 2019 but didn’t play much and eventually got cut. He’s been with the Eagles since he signed to the practice squad on Oct. 7. 

This weekend, Davis will play his first game as an Eagle and it’ll come against his former team in Washington. He’s as excited about that as Eagles fans are about seeing him play. 

And if you want to get even more over-hyped about Davis, here’s what his former Redskins and current Eagles teammate Nate Sudfeld said about him last month: 

He’s a freak of nature. He’s got muscles on top of muscles. Definitely looks the part of a big, freak wide receiver, and he plays big. He’s got speed, really good at running routes, he’s smart. He’s got a bright future, definitely.

Maybe Davis will just have a short stay on the Eagles’ active roster. Maybe he won’t even be able to make an impact. But, for now, it’s fun for fans to dream about finding another diamond in in the practice squad. 

After his call-up, Davis took over a real locker stall at the NovaCare Complex, moving up from the pop-up variety. While he’s listed as Robert on the roster, his nameplate said Rob. 

What does he prefer? 

“My mom named me Robert,” he said. “I go by Rob for my homeboys.”

You can decide what to call him after watching Sunday’s game.  

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