NFL Hall of Fame

Hall of Famers, Braxton Miller, and more in Roob's random observations

Hall of Famers, Braxton Miller, and more in Roob's random observations

Some random thoughts on Eagles cornerbacks, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Braxton Miller, Mackey Sasser and much more as we continue to count down the days until these football games actually mean something.

• I like what Carson Wentz said the other day about spending more time in the pocket this year. It’s really part of the natural progression most athletic quarterbacks go through as they truly develop a thorough understanding of their offense. They still can run but they just don’t need to run. Randall Cunningham ran 500 times his first seven years, but by his MVP season with the Vikings in 1998 he ran only 32 times (including 11 kneel-downs). Donovan McNabb ran 349 times his first five years, but in the Super Bowl season, when he had by far his best passing numbers, he ran only 41 times all year (including 11 kneel-downs). Russell Wilson ran over 6.0 times per game his first six seasons but last year, when he had his best passing numbers, he ran only 50 times all year not counting 15 kneel-downs. The key is that when it does make sense to take off and make a play with your legs, you don’t hesitate, and Carson promises he will. I honestly think we could see him take his game to another level this year. With these weapons? I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.

• Cody Parkey went into last year as the 8th-most accurate kicker in NFL history. His 77.8 career percentage from 50 yards and out (on 7-for-9) is 5th-best in NFL history among kickers who’ve attempted at least five of them. He was 21-for-23 with the Dolphins in 2017. Pretty darn good resume. And he can’t get a job. Incredible what hitting a few posts and double-doinking a postseason game-winning attempt will do for you. Tough line of work. 

• Very curious what the Eagles will do with Clayton Thorson. He followed his encouraging game in Jacksonville last Thursday with a very good week of practice. Really looks like he’s turned the proverbial corner. So do they still try to clear him through waivers to get him onto the practice squad and risk losing him? Or do they keep a guy who won’t play this year on the 53-man roster and cut somebody else they want to keep? Right now, I’d say there’s about a 35 percent chance Thorson would get claimed if they cut him. But two more productive preseason games and that number is going to go up significantly. Tricky decision for Howie.

• I don’t know why the Pro Football Hall of Fame continually snubs deserving former Eagles like Eric Allen, Harold Carmichael, Al Wistert, Harold Jackson and Seth Joyner. But I do know that it’s absurd that a franchise that’s been around for 88 years is represented by only six players who spent more than half their career here: Dawk, Reggie, Chuck Bednarik, Pete Pihos, Tommy McDonald and Steve Van Buren. That’s it.

• It’s great that Ronald Darby is back, and it’s not that I don’t like Darby, but I can’t help thinking Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones are the Eagles’ two best options right now at outside corner. 

• I hope things work out for Braxton Miller with the Browns. He’s a good kid and things haven’t worked out for him since he got hurt in 2014 and lost his job quarterback Ohio State. He’s changed positions, becoming a wide receiver, and bounced from the Texans to the Eagles to the Browns. It’s been a rough few years. But I’ve got to be honest. I never saw him make one play at training camp. The Eagles were pretty high on him going into camp, but he just never ever flashed. 

• The Eagles and Packers are the only NFL teams that haven’t had a 50-catch running back in either of the last two seasons. As much as the Eagles work with all their backs in the receiving game, I’m not sure they’ll have one this year either. I do think Miles Sanders will eventually become a dangerous NFL receiver, but that’s probably a year or two away.

• What the heck happened to Stefen Wisniewski? I’ve never seen a guy just lose the ability to snap the football accurately like he has. It’s like Macky Sasser. Or Chuck Knoblauch. The inability to execute the most routine play. Wisniewski is still a solid guard, but he’s here to back up the three inside positions, and if you can’t trust him to play center, does it make sense to keep him? Wisniewski has started a ton of games in the league at center and was a Super Bowl starter at guard two years ago, but I’m not sure the Eagles can afford to keep him around.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Will Darren Sproles be a Hall of Famer?

Will Darren Sproles be a Hall of Famer?

Darren Sproles is the last in our series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL.

Friday, July 19: Fletcher Cox
Saturday, July 20: Zach Ertz
Sunday, July 21: DeSean Jackson
Monday, July 22: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Wednesday, July 24: Jason Peters

Numbers: 3,486 rushing numbers, 4.9 average, 547 catches, 4,816 yards, 9.6 average with seven touchdowns on punt returns, 25.2 average with two touchdowns on kick returns.

Postseason numbers: Sproles has 298 rushing yards and a 3.9 average with four TDs along with 49 catches for 477 yards and three more TDs. He doesn’t have a postseason return touchdown but has averaged 8.1 yards on punt returns and 24.8 bringing back kicks.

Honors: Sproles made the Pro Bowl as a returner his first three years with the Eagles, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Favorite stat: Of the 48 players in NFL history with 3,000 rushing yards and 3,000 receiving yards, Sproles’ 4.9 career rushing average is highest.

Records and rankings

• Sproles ranks sixth in NFL history with 19,520 all-purpose yards. He trails only Jerry Rice (23,546), former Eagle Brian Mitchell (23,330), Walter Payton (21,803), Emmitt Smith (21,564) and Tim Brown (19,682). All are Hall of Famers except Mitchell.

• Sproles’ 4.9 average is 15th highest in NFL history among running backs with at least 500 carries.

• Sproles’ seven career punt return TDs (four with the Eagles) are tied for seventh most in NFL history.

• His nine combined punt and kick returns are tied for sixth most in NFL history behind Devin Hester (19), Mitchell (13), Dante Hall (12), Eric Metcalf (12) and Josh Cribbs (11).

• Sproles led the NFL in punt return average for the Eagles in 2014 at 13.0 yards per return.

• Sproles had two punt returns TDs in 2014 and two more in 2015, leading the NFL both years.

• Sproles’ 547 catches are 12th most in NFL history by a running back and just 19 out of the top 10.

• Of the 17 running backs in NFL history with 500 catches, Sproles’ 4.9 rushing average is second highest, behind only Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell (5.3).

• Sproles and Deion Sanders are the only players in NFL history with at least four punt return TDs in their 30s.

Analysis 

There’s never been another player like Darren Sproles. He’s 5-foot-6. For him to rank sixth in NFL history in total yards at 5-6 is totally insane. Nobody else 5-6 has ever had half as many yards. Only 14 other guys that size have even had 600 yards in their career.

There’s never been a pure returner inducted into the Hall of Fame. Devin Hester and Mitchell would be the top candidates, but their offensive numbers are nowhere near Sproles’ numbers.

Sproles had 8,302 yards as a runner and receiver on top of everything he did as a returner. That’s what really sets him apart. Hester had less than 3,500 and B-Mitch had just over 4,300.

I’m not sure the Hall of Fame voters will ever take into consideration everything Sproles did. He doesn’t have the rushing yards or receiving numbers to be a Hall of Famer, and as a returner he falls a little short of the best ever.

But put it all together and factor in his size and ability to block at a high level at 5-6, 190 pounds, and you can make a pretty compelling case.

It might take him some time, but …

Verdict: Will be a Hall of Famer.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Will Jason Peters be a Hall of Famer?

Will Jason Peters be a Hall of Famer?

Jason Peters is the latest in a series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL.

Friday, July 19: Fletcher Cox
Saturday, July 20: Zach Ertz
Sunday, July 21: DeSean Jackson
Monday, July 22: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Today: Jason Peters
Thursday, July 25: Darren Sproles

Numbers: Has made 182 career starts at left tackle, the first 55 for the Bills, the last 127 for the Eagles.

Postseason numbers: Has played in only five postseason games, all with the Eagles. The first three were under Andy Reid in the 2009, 2010 and 2013 postseasons and after missing the Super Bowl run because of an injury, he finally played in his first career postseason win last January in Chicago a week before his 37th birthday.

Honors: Has made nine Pro Bowl teams, the first two with the Bills in 2007 and 2008, the last seven with the Eagles. He was also a first-team All-Pro in 2011 and 2013.

Favorite stat: He’s tied for second-most Pro Bowls in NFL history by an undrafted player behind only Jim Otto, who made 12 straight playing center for the Raiders from 1961 through 1972. Willie Brown, Lou Groza, Warren Moon and Emlen Tunnell also were undrafted and made nine Pro Bowls, and all are in the Hall of Fame.

Records and rankings 

• Despite playing his first five years with the Bills, Peters has made more Pro Bowls than any other undrafted player in Eagles history with seven. David Akers is next on that list with five, and nobody else has more than three.

• Among all players in Eagles history, only Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik — with eight — has made more Pro Bowls. Brian Dawkins and Reggie White, both also Hall of Famers, made seven each.

• Since 2007, the only players who’ve made more Pro Bowls than Peters are Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Larry Fitzgerald, three first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Analysis

It would seem like a no-brainer that Peters will one day be a Hall of Famer.

The question I always ask is: “Was he ever the best in the business for at least five years?” Well, how about for 10 years?

From 2007 through 2016, Peters made the Pro Bowl all nine years that he played (he missed 2012 with an Achilles injury). During that span, the only other offensive lineman to make more than seven Pro Bowls was Browns tackle Joe Thomas.

In NFL history, 26 offensive linemen have made nine or more Pro Bowls, and 20 of the 24 of those who are eligible are in the Hall of Fame. The only exceptions are Jim Tyrer, Walt Sweeney, Ruben Brown and Alan Faneca, who all made nine Pro Bowls.

No lineman has ever made 10 Pro Bowls and not made it into the Hall of Fame — all 12 who are eligible are in. So Peters already has a worthy résumé, but if he’s able to crank out one more Pro Bowl season at 37 years old, he would have to be a lock.

The only offensive linemen in Eagles history in the Hall of Fame are Alex Wojciechowicz, Bob Brown and Jim Ringo.

But Wojciechowicz played only 4½ years at the end of his career with the Eagles, Brown was here for only his first five years, and Ringo was in Philly only his last four years. Bednarik is a Hall of Famer, but he played center for only four years later in his career.

So the Eagles don’t have a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who played the bulk of his career here. Five years after he retires, Peters should become the first.

Verdict: Will be a Hall of Famer.



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles