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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