A look at Derek Barnett's career so far, a rookie who needs to shine Sunday and Jason Kelce's future in today's edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!
1. Let’s be honest. A loss Sunday would be catastrophic. I don’t want to hear about Saquon this or Daniel Jones that. I believe the Eagles will win. They should win. They better win. If they don’t? Maybe the Cowboys will find a way to lose to the Redskins and the Eagles can back into the playoffs, but if the Eagles do hand the Cowboys the division after beating them head-to-head last weekend that will be a disaster of epic proportions. As banged up as they are, if the Eagles lose with a playoff berth at stake to a 4-11 Giants team with nothing to play for and a rookie quarterback and a coach on the hot seat and the No. 24 offense and No. 23 defense then people deserve to be fired.
2. Amazing that the offense can lose Zach Ertz, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson and Nelson Agholor and I’m still more concerned with the Eagles’ defense going into Sunday. Because I have no idea which defense is going to show up. Seven times the Eagles have allowed 27 or more points. Eight times they’ve allowed 17 or fewer points. Only once have they allowed between 17 and 27, and that was the Falcons Week 2. All or nothing. When they're good, they're really good. When they're bad they're wretched. But here’s a scary notion: The Eagles allowed 16.8 points per game at home, 5th-best in the league. But they’re allowing 29.0 on the road, 4th-WORST. Facing a Giants team that’s scored 77 points in its last two games, that’s not very comforting.
3. I’ll be shocked if Carson Wentz doesn’t have a huge game Sunday.
4. Derek Barnett always plays hard, gives great effort. And his fumble recovery in the Super Bowl was obviously unforgettable. But all he has to show for his first three seasons is 12 sacks and a bunch of injuries. Mike Mamula had 17 1/2 sacks his first three seasons and Barnett is 5 1/2 back with a game to go. Barnett was the 14th pick in the 2017 draft, and 48 defensive ends have more sacks over the last three years. I never use the “B” word. I don’t think it’s fair to tag a draft pick a bust because you never know what the future holds. Look at Brandon Graham. BUT … it is fair to say that Barnett has been a major disappointment so far.
5. It’s amazing how much better a coach Mike Groh is when guys are actually catching the football.
6. Greg Ward isn’t technically a rookie, but among undrafted receivers in their first year playing in the NFL, he already has the second-most catches in Eagles history with 22 behind only … Dick Humbert, who caught 29 passes in 1941. All this despite playing in only six games — only five on offense.
7. The Eagles’ three-game winning streak is the first in franchise history in which they haven’t recorded an interception in any of the games. They’ve faced 141 passes since their last interception — Ronald Darby on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first pass of the Miami game. Good for them winning three straight games without an INT, but they could sure use a couple Sunday.
8. He’s 32 years old now. Finishing his 9th NFL season. Has played 131 games. Three-time Pro Bowler, two-time all-pro. Super Bowl champ, Super Bowl parade superstar, all-time great Eagle, future Eagles Hall of Fame lock. Has a baby at home and lots of non-football interests. I can’t imagine not seeing Jason Kelce playing football for the Eagles every Sunday, but I just wonder how much longer he’s going to put his body through what he’s been putting it through for the last decade.
9. One guy the Eagles really need Sunday is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. I expect Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert and Greg Ward to do their thing, but the Eagles need more than that. They need some production on the outside, and he’s going to be the only wide receiver in uniform who wasn’t on the practice squad earlier this year. JJAW was a second-round pick, and he needs to play like it Sunday.
10. Whatever happens Sunday, I hope Eagles fans go into this offseason secure in the knowledge that this team has an elite quarterback capable of carrying a team a long, long way. What Wentz has done down the stretch with a collection of rookies, backups and practice squad call-ups has been nothing less than remarkable. Wentz has 3,750 passing yards without a wide receiver over 500 yards, and that’s unprecedented in NFL history. Sanders is a stud, and Ward is a nice complimentary piece, but it’s up to Howie Roseman and his staff to surround Wentz with elite playmakers this offseason. But anybody who is still doubting or questioning Wentz? I just don’t think you’re a true Eagles fan. You can’t be.
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