10 observations

Roob's 10 Observations: Crazily underrated Eagles LB, Matthews' future and more

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Roob's 10 Observations: Crazily underrated Eagles LB, Matthews' future and more

Comparing the Eagles' 2004 and 2017 Super Bowl offensive lines, a drastically underrated Eagles linebacker, Jordan Matthews' future and more in the neverending parade of Nick Foles stats!

Somebody must have ordered Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations! 

1. One of the biggest differences between the 2004 Super Bowl and the 2017 Super Bowl was the performance of the Eagles' offensive line. The Eagles' line in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville got brutalized. The interior of the line in particular — guards Jermane Mayberry and Artis Hicks and center Hank Fraley — was destroyed by Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel, who hit Donovan McNabb repeatedly, forced him to rush throws, sacked him four times, recorded eight tackles for loss and limited the Eagles to 2.6 yards per rush.

Compare that to the performance of Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks, the interior of the 2017 O-line this time around against the Patriots. The line was monstrous, controlling the line of scrimmage, keeping Foles clean (no sacks on 44 pass attempts) and paving the way for the Eagles to average 6.1 yards per carry. That 2004 O-line was a pretty good one, with three Pro Bowlers (Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan, Mayberry), but they just got destroyed in Jacksonville.

The 2017 group? Their play was superhuman despite losing a Hall of Fame left tackle. Lane Johnson, Brooks and Kelce all showed they're as good as anyone in the game. And Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Wisniewski, two guys that didn't even start the season in the starting lineup, were beasts down the stretch and in the playoffs. It's a group that's smart, physical and athletic and plays so well together. Best of all? They're all back. The team that brought you Ben Tamburello, Mike Schad, Steve Everitt, Ron Solt, Ian Beckles, Max Jean-Gilles, Jeff Dellenbach, Lonnie Palelei and a freaking 26-year-old rookie who wanted to ride around tooting the horn on a firetruck has the best O-line in football, and they're not going away any time soon.

2. I know Doug Pederson said Jay Ajayi will be the Eagles' lead back this year, but I still don't expect him to get more than 200 carries. The Eagles have been clear about their concern with his chronic knee issues, and with the talent they have at running back there's no reason to give Ajayi 20 carries a game. But, man, he can make a huge impact — and stay healthy — with 13 or 14 carries and two or three catches.

3. William Thomas was so underrated. Maybe it's because he was drafted in 1991, as the whole Reggie / Clyde / Seth / Jerome / Wes / Andre defense was unraveling. But Willie T. had 27 interceptions and 37 sacks in his career, and only five others in NFL history had 25 sacks and 25 INTs — including Dawk, Ray Lewis and Rodney Harrison. In fact, Willie T. and Lewis are the only linebackers ever with 25 and 25.  

4. I know everybody disagrees, but I still think Jordan Matthews is pretty good, and I expect him to have a solid season in New England.

5. Another reason to love Doug Pederson: The Eagles' 29 fourth-down attempts last year are the most on record (the NFL began tracking fourth-down attempts in 1991). The Eagles were an insane 20-for-29 on fourth down, including some fairly important ones. It was amazing watching Doug evolve last year into such a fearless play-caller. 

6. Nick Foles' stats on third down in the 2017 postseason are so ridiculous I double-checked them three times because I didn't think they could possibly be correct. But they're correct: 27-for-33 for 400 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 156.8 passer rating. Yep, only two more incomplete passes than touchdowns. This is insanity.

7. The more time goes by, the more astonishing Foles' postseason seems to me. 

8. Only three players in Super Bowl history have caught a touchdown pass on fourth down: Irving Fryar when the Patriots were trailing the Bears 44-3 late in the fourth quarter in 1985, Don Beebe when the Bills were trailing the Redskins by 20 late in the fourth quarter in 1991 and Foles just before halftime of a three-point game. Conclusion: Foles is the only player in NFL history to catch a meaningful fourth-down touchdown pass in a Super Bowl.

9. I have no idea what really happened at NRG Stadium after Super Bowl LI. But I find it extremely difficult to believe that in this day and age when every single thing anybody does is caught on videotape, that not one video camera picked up the incident Michael Bennett is alleged to have been involved in. With all the security at major events these days? There was no video camera? At an entrance to the field? After a Super Bowl? Not buying it.

10. We haven't had a Zach Ertz stat in a while, so here ya go: Ertz is the only player in Eagles history with three straight seasons with 70 or more catches and 800 yards. Only two others have had two straight: Fryar and Matthews.

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Roob’s 10 observations: Agholor, underrated Super Bowler, Shady’s career

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Roob’s 10 observations: Agholor, underrated Super Bowler, Shady’s career

More improvement from Nelson Agholor, an underrated Super Bowl performer, two agonizing yards from a milestone and an incredible accomplishment that LeSean McCoy is closing in on.

It’s all right here in this week’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations!

1. Doug Pederson has found the perfect balance these past few months of allowing his players to really enjoy being Super Bowl champions while still keeping an eye on 2018, and that’s not an easy thing to do. The Eagles have celebrated when it’s time to celebrate and they’ve worked when it’s time to work, and honestly, I feel like most of the guys on this team would rather be at an OTA practice under the hot June sun than at some banquet re-living Super Bowl LII. Which is the beauty of this team. Zach Ertz put it beautifully when he said this: “There’s always going to be one-hit wonders in this league. Teams that won one Super Bowl or players that made one Pro Bowl and then you didn’t hear from them again. But it’s the great players and the great teams that are able to have that sustained success.” And that right there is the mantra for this football team. Last year was incredible. But it’s in the past. It’s time to move on. It’s time to go to work.

2. Five quarterbacks in NFL history have had a passer rating of 101.9 or higher in their second NFL season [minimum of 200 attempts]. Three of them are Hall of Famers – Otto Graham, Kurt Warner and Dan Marino. The other two are … Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

3. This is insanity, but there’s no doubt in my mind T.O. can still help a football team. I know, I know. He’s 44. The oldest player in NFL history to catch a pass is Jerry Rice, Owens’ former teammate, who was 42 years, 67 days, when he caught his last three career passes – 3 for 25 yards from Matt Hasselbeck for the Seahawks against the Jets on Dec. 19, 2004. The only other player to catch a pass in his 40s is Brett Favre, who caught a batted pass that he threw (for minus-two yards) against the Rams at 40 years, 1 day, for the Vikings in 2009. I know T.O. hasn’t played since 2010, when he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine TDs playing for the Bengals. But T.O. is different than other human beings. He’s a freak of nature. He could play till he’s 50. But considering his history, no team is ever going to take a chance on him. It’s a shame, but that’s the reality.

4. It still blows my mind that the Eagles won the Super Bowl just two years after Chip Kelly was fired. Think about that. Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Pederson overhauled the entire franchise from late 2015 train wreck to 2017 NFL champs in 769 days. 

5. During that span, the Browns have won one game.

6. Kind of lost in all the Super Bowl insanity – Philly Special, Nick Foles’ performance, Brandon Graham’s strip-sack, the 4th-down conversion to Zach Ertz – was LeGarrette Blount’s remarkable performance. Blount’s 6.4 rushing average that day (14 for 90) is highest in NFL postseason history by a back 31 or older. The previous record was Tiki Barber’s 5.3 for the Giants in the 2006 wild-card game that the Eagles won at the Linc. Blount destroyed that record. And it came after a stretch in which Blount had averaged just 3.7 yards per carry in his previous eight games. Blount wasn’t here long but what a tremendous impact he made both as an unfailingly unselfish leader and as a battering-ram running back.

7. Hard to believe DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the only Eagles draft picks with a 1,000-yard receiving season since Fred Barnett, who was drafted 28 years ago. I expect Nelson Agholor to do it this season.

8. I’m still sad Brent Celek is sitting there with 4,998 career receiving yards. 

9. Wondering what the heck the Redskins are thinking is a way of life around the NFL, but it still blows my mind that they believe they have a better chance of winning with a 34-year-old Alex Smith and than with a 29-year-old Kirk Cousins. 

10. LeSean McCoy has averaged 101 yards from scrimmage per game in his brilliant nine-year NFL career, and he now has 13,470 net yards from scrimmage – eighth-most in NFL history by a player before his 30th birthday (behind seven Hall of Famers). Every back in NFL history who’s gained 16,000 yards from scrimmage — and there are 10 of them — is in the Hall of Fame. At his current pace, Shady would get to 16,000 in Week 9 of the 2020 season. I’m sure as heck not betting against him. 

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Eagles minicamp observations, Day 3: 'I just want the rings'

Eagles minicamp observations, Day 3: 'I just want the rings'

The Eagles finished their spring practices Thursday and it really felt like the last day of school. 

Actually, it felt even better than the last day of school for most of the team. The Eagles get their Super Bowl rings in a private ceremony tonight.

That’s where we’ll start today’s observations: 

1. Jalen Mills walked out to practice with even more swagger than normal — and he normally has plenty. But as he walked onto the field, he yelled, “Give me my Super Bowl ring!” That came after he posted videos of him on Instagram wearing Super Bowl gear and posing with the Lombardi Trophy. 

The team backed up his excitement with the playlist. It started with Kap G’s “Rings” and then went to “Big Rings” from Drake and Future. 

2. Still no Sidney Jones or Haloti Ngata practicing. Both were watching at practice, but haven’t been participating. We’ll get to see them at training camp in a little over a month. 

Tim Jernigan and Brandon Graham walked out of the facility together. They obviously haven’t been at practice, Jernigan getting over surgery for a herniated disc and Graham getting over ankle surgery. Graham is still using crutches. 

3. During the team portion of practice, we saw some more tricks for the second straight day. Today, it looked an awful lot like the Philly Special. Former college quarterback Greg Ward took a pitch and then threw the ball to Nick Foles, who rolled right, in the end zone for a touchdown. It looked awfully familiar. 

4. Carson Wentz again participated in 7-on-7s, but today they were in the red zone for part of it. For that part, Wentz hit Ward in the back of the end zone for a touchdown on a play where Ward clearly wasn’t his first read. The next play, he hit Dallas Goedert in the front left corner of the end zone. 

5. Let’s talk a little about Goedert on that play. Because it was a nice throw from Wentz, but the rookie made the play. He used his body masterfully to shield linebacker Corey Nelson from the ball. This is something we’ve seen Ertz become great at in the last couple of years and Goedert is starting off being pretty good at it. 

6. We saw how much the Eagles began to use RPOs late in the 2017 season because Foles was really comfortable with them. It’s interesting, because I think it’s now going to be a big part of the Eagles’ offense. Today, even Joe Callahan was running RPOs, so it’s a part of the playbook for everyone, not just Foles. It’s kind of crazy to think that Wentz’s injury has led to another big wrinkle in the Eagles’ offense. 

7. Avonte Maddox got some reps with the first team as the slot corner during 7-on-7s. It’s the first time we’ve seen Maddox with the ones. The rookie corner has struggled some over the last few weeks, but there’s a steep learning curve, especially at nickel corner, a spot that’s new for him. 

8. We’ve talked so much about Goedert because he’s the shiny new toy, but Ertz is still really good and is getting better. He’s had a great spring. With that looming breakout year talk over, he is going to be one of the top TEs in the league for years to come. 

9. Wentz threw a loooong deep ball that Rashard Davis had trouble tracking. It was just one of those plays where it felt like Wentz was going to unload and he did. It probably traveled 50-60 yards in the air. He’s still got a rocket on his shoulder. 

10. At the end of practice during a special teams drill, Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Callahan played a game where they tried to hit the crossbar on the goal posts in the fewest attempts. Once everyone hit it, they moved back five yards. 

From the goal line
Sudfeld: 4th try
Foles: 3rd
Callahan 1st

From the 5
Sudfeld: 3rd
Foles: 1st
Callahan: 2nd

From the 10
Sudfeld: 3rd
Foles: 5th
Callahan: 2nd

From the 15
Sudfeld: 9th
Foles: 1st
Callahan: 3rd

That first throw from Foles from the 15-yard line was a bullet. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: I shouldn’t have stood so close to the speaker. Now my ears are ringing, which is pretty funny, considering all the songs today were about rings. 

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