Eagles

Trying to hold Eagles together, Doug Pederson taking lessons from 2015 Chiefs

Trying to hold Eagles together, Doug Pederson taking lessons from 2015 Chiefs

Doug Pederson thinks the Eagles will rebound from adversity because he has seen one of his teams do it before. 

After back-to-back blowout losses, the Eagles are now 3-4 with nine games left to play, but Pederson has seen an even worse situation get turned around. 

Back in 2015, when he was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, the Chiefs began the season with a 1-5 record, but then won 10 straight games to make the playoffs. Pederson brought up the comparison on his own Monday. 

I see a lot of the same similarities kind of where we are. We're only 3-4, and we're still a game out of first place in our division here with a lot of football left.

“Obviously, a sense of urgency has to pick up from the standpoint of each week becomes a little more important. But we have the guys in the locker room, I have the coaches on this staff to get it done, and that's what we're going to do.

Basically, Pederson’s message on Monday is that the season isn’t over and he’s right; the Eagles are still just one game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. It’s just not going to be easy. With the current playoff system (since 1990), there have been 192 teams to start the season with a 3-4 record; 34 of them (17.7 percent) have made the playoffs.

If the Eagles lose to Buffalo, their odds to make the playoffs obviously drop. Just 8.8 percent of teams starting with a 3-5 record have made it to the postseason since 1990. 

Pederson referenced that 2015 Chiefs team, but are there really similarities? 

“I think, No. 1, it starts with me,” he said. “My messaging to the team. And then the leaders of the football team. I think about back then, the guys that we had in that locker room and keeping it together, and that's the type of men we have here in this locker room; they are not going to let one game define the season or a couple games define our season. 

“They are going to get better, learn from it. And that's what we did back then and so we are going to carry that over to this year.”

Take a look at the the starts for the 2015 Chiefs and the 2019 Eagles: 

After the Chiefs lost to Minnesota in Week 6 of 2015, they won their next two games before their bye week. The Eagles have two more games until their bye week in 2019, so maybe this is an appropriate time for the comparison. 

I found an interesting column from Terez A. Paylor, then of the the Kansas City Star, from Jan. 8, 2016, listing the 10 things that led to the Chiefs’ 10-game winning streak and a playoff berth. One of them was that the Chiefs had a much easier schedule down the stretch: Their opponents had a winning percentage of .604 in the first six, compared to .419 in the last 10. The Eagles aren’t getting that type of drop-off. In fact, they’re about to face a tougher schedule: .436 to .483.  

So not all of the reasons apply to the Eagles — these are different teams — but a few of them from the column definitely caught my attention: 

1. The offensive line’s improvement 

The Eagles could definitely benefit from their offensive line play improving. The Chiefs were in a much worse position with their O-line in 2015, being forced to play seven different combinations. The Eagles, meanwhile, were expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the league and they haven’t. Sure, Andre Dillard is playing left tackle now, but that unit should be better and could turn things around. 

2. Quarterback Alex Smith’s running ability 

Basically, Smith started making plays with his legs and bought himself more time. We’ve seen Wentz do that in 2019, but he has the ability to take over games and he needs to do it now. 

4. Finding an offensive identity 

The Chiefs lost their identity when Jamaal Charles went down in Week 5 but the Chiefs stuck with the run, using Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. The Eagles don’t really have an identity on offense right now either, but for different reasons. Finding it could go a long way. This is on Pederson. 

7. The rebirth of Pro Bowlers 

In 2015, several key defensive players for the Chiefs started playing like it during their run. Guys like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry all played much better down the stretch. The Eagles need Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins and their other top defensive players to pick up the slack. 

8. Andy Reid’s steady hand 

Read this excerpt from Paylor: 

“When the Chiefs were 1-5, Reid was asked a variety of questions about his process. Would he consider handing over the offensive play calling? Would he consider making staff changes? Would he make any other drastic changes? 

“The answer each time? Nope. Reid took responsibility for all his team’s failures, but expressed confidence in his staff and players’ ability to turn it around. Multiple players have said that Reid’s steadiness during this time of unease — even with chairman Clark Hunt’s vote of confidence in November — instilled a sense of belief in their abilities.” 

That sounds exactly like what Pederson is trying to do now. 

9. A good locker room 

In 2015, Reid leaned on his locker room and the family culture he created in Kansas City. 

Pederson on Monday mentioned he needs his leaders to step up and help keep the football team together. He has mentioned several times how much he leans on his players committee. There’s a reason the Eagles worry about culture so much. 

Maybe these lessons from the Chiefs will help the Eagles or maybe they won’t. We’ll find out soon enough if the Eagles are able to turn things around like the Chiefs did in 2015 or if the season will end up being a complete disaster. 

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Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

A few years ago, Rick Lovato was working in his family’s restaurant, Joyce’s Subs and Pizza, in Lincroft, New Jersey, just waiting for a chance.

He wasn’t the best at making pizza, but Lovato could make a mean breakfast sandwich. 

Maybe he still can, but Lovato won’t have to worry about picking up an apron again anytime soon. He’s in the middle of what might end up being a long and profitable NFL career. 

The Eagles on Tuesday signed the 27-year-old long snapper to a four-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2023 season. 

Lovato has been playing this season on a one-year deal he signed in February and was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. It’s worth noting that kicker Jake Elliott and punter Cameron Johnston are also in the final years of their contracts, so perhaps another move or two will be coming. 

While this deal won’t break the bank the way Brandon Brooks’ extension did last week, the Eagles seem interested right now in re-signing some players they want to keep around. 

The Eagles initially signed Lovato in December of 2016 after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. Lovato performed well enough that the Eagles traded Dorenbos the following August and made Lovato their full-time long snapper. 

Lovato has played in 45 regular-season games and five playoff games with the Eagles, including Super Bowl LII. He has a giant Lombardi Trophy tattooed on his side. 

Being a long snapper is kind of like being an offensive lineman in some ways. The less you hear about the long snapper, the more likely he’s performing well and not making mistakes. So, for Lovato’s sake, hopefully this is the last time you hear his name for a few years.  

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Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

We've got some overall defense, some Zach Ertz and some Miles Sanders in this week's edition of 10 Roob Stats.

Yes, we can always come up with positive stats even when the Eagles lose!

—> The Eagles have held three straight opponents to 17 or fewer points and fewer than 300 yards. This is only the second time that’s happened in the last 11 years. They also did it against the Steelers, Bears and Browns — the first three games of the Doug Pederson Era. Only the Patriots and 49ers have also had such streaks this year.

—> Carson Wentz’s current streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown pass is 3rd-longest in Eagles history, behind Wentz’s 22-game streak over the 2016 through 2018 seasons and Randall Cunningham’s 18-game streak in 1987 and 1988.

—> Wentz played his 50th career game Sunday. Among all QBs in NFL history in their first 50 games, he ranks 9th in most TD passes, 9th in passing yards, 12th in accuracy, second in completions and 3rd in interception percentage and has the 4th-highest passer rating.

—> Zach Ertz’s nine catches Sunday give him 55 this year. He’s the first player in Eagles history with six straight 50-catch seasons. Keith Byars [1988-92], Jeremy Maclin [2009-14], and Brian Westbrook [2004-08] had five.

—> Zach Ertz now has 17 career nine-catch games. Only Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [20] have more in NFL history among tight ends. The last two games mark the fourth time in his career he’s had nine catches in consecutive games. The only other players in Eagles history to do that once are Pete Pihos in 1955 Terrell Owens in 2005.

—> One more Ertz: He’s increased his career total to 492 receptions, 20th-most in NFL history by a tight end. He only needs 14 to pass six more tight ends and move into 14th place. At his current rate, he’ll be in the all-time top-10 by Week 3 of next season.

—> The Eagles allowed 14 TD drives of 60 yards or more the first six games of the season. They’ve allowed 4 the last four games.

—> They’ve also held six straight home opponents under 100 rushing yards, the 6th-longest streak in franchise history and 3rd-longest since 1955.

—> The Eagles are on pace to allow fewer than 1,400 rushing yards ad fewer than 3.8 per carry in the same season for only the second time since 1991 and the sixth time since 1955.

—> He didn’t have a huge game Sunday, but Miles Sanders did add 47 scrimmage yards to his 2019 total and now ranks second among all rookie NFL running backs with 688 scrimmage yards, behind only Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, who has 1,067 (and 97 more touches).

—> Sanders’ 688 yards are most ever by an Eagles rookie running back after 10 games (35 more than Lee Bouggess in 1970) and second-most by any rookie, behind only DeSean Jackson (732). Sanders needs to average 52 yards from scrimmage the rest of the season for 1,000. The only Eagles rookie to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards was Jackson (1,008 in 2008). The most by a running back was LeSean McCoy’s 945 in 2009.

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