What Eagles cuts tell us and more in Roob's 10 random Eagles observations

What Eagles cuts tell us and more in Roob's 10 random Eagles observations

What we learned from Sunday’s roster cuts, the most ridiculous Jordan Matthews stat ever, Jim Johnson’s postseason brilliance and lots more in today’s Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations! 

1. What we learned from Sunday's cuts

The five players the Eagles released Sunday have one thing in common: All finished last season with the Eagles. Albert Huggins played in four games and finished the season on the practice squad. Daeshon Hall was on the roster all year and played in nine games. Shelton Gibson, the Eagles’ fifth-round pick in 2017, was on the roster for the Seahawks playoff game. Marcus Green was on the practice squad all year. Tremon Smith spent the last month on the practice squad.

The takeaway is clear: The Eagles believe that even without an offseason or preseason games, they have newcomers who have a better chance to contribute than five guys who were in the building last year and know the system. It means they value undrafted rookie DT Raequan Williams over Huggins, they value all their young receivers over two guys who know the offense, they value untested Joe Ostman and Shareef Miller over Hall, and they feel stronger about all their young corners than a guy who’s been in the program since December. It’s interesting philosophically because it really tells us that Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson believe young players with no offseason can compete for roster spots ahead of known quantities. 

2. Finally an agreement

I’m glad the NFL and NFLPA finally agreed on training camp protocols. But it’s crazy it didn’t happen until four days before camps were due to open. I sure hope the people making these decisions know what they’re doing.

3. Jordan Matthews' bizarre career

Matthews has had one of the strangest careers I’ve ever seen. He caught 225 passes in his first three seasons, and granted two of them came in Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense, but that’s still the 14th-most receptions in NFL history in a player’s first three seasons. In three seasons since, Matthews has 49 catches and has changed teams eight times. There have been 48 players in NFL history who caught 200 or more passes in their first three seasons. Of the 39 who came into the league by 2014, not one has come anywhere close to Matthews’ statistical decline. The only other receiver who caught 200 passes in his first three seasons and fewer than 100 in his next three is one-time Falcons first-round pick Mike Pritchard with 79. The average receiver caught 203 in his next three seasons. 

4. A ridiculous Jordan Matthews stat

There are 33 modern-era wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Matthews had more catches in his first three seasons than 32 of them. Randy Moss had one more catch than Matthews.

5. Making sense of the Jamal Adams trade

Normally I would say two first-round picks (and a three and a starter) is way too high a price for a safety. But Adams is 24 and a truly elite player. And the Seahawks know that their first-round picks — when they keep them — are always at the end of the first round. They’ve kept only four first-round picks since 2013, and they’ve been No. 31, 27, 29 and 27. They haven’t picked higher than 27 since 2012. The Seahawks are the rarest of perennial playoff teams, building and winning without premium first-round picks. The Seahawks are trying to go from being an 11-win team back to the Super Bowl, and the Jets are trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in a decade. This deal gives both teams what they need.

6. Howie doesn't do this

And remember, Roseman has still never traded a first- or second-round pick for a player.

7. The Super Bowl alumni

There are 21 guys who played on the 2017 Super Bowl team that went on to play for another NFL team. Good luck trying to find more than a couple out of those 21 who did anything at their next stop. Stefen Wisniewski started in the Super Bowl for the Chiefs last year, but he started only two games during the regular season. Jordan Hicks had a solid year for the Cards in 2019 (but didn’t actually play in the Super Bowl). That’s really it. Almost none of those 21 guys did anything at their next stop, and only four of those 21 are currently with the team they joined after leaving the Eagles (Joe Walker, Hicks, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson). The Eagles got so much out of so many guys who haven’t done anything since.

8. Elite company for Pederson

If the Eagles reach the playoffs this year, Pederson will become only the 19th head coach in NFL history to reach the playoffs in at least four of his first five seasons. Of the first 18, only George Seifert, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, Bud Grant, Mike Holmgren and Paul Brown won a Super Bowl or NFL Championship during those first five years.

9. Are they serious?

NFL.com is in the process of putting out its list of top-100 players, and they’ve only done 71 through 100 so far, but … Fletcher Cox is No. 73, Jason Kelce is No. 94 and Brandon Brooks is No. 98. You have the best center in the NFL, one of the best guards in the NFL and one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, all on one of only four teams to reach the playoffs in each of the last three years with the fourth-best record in football over the last three years along with a Super Bowl championship. Somebody hasn’t been paying attention.

10. In appreciation of Jim Johnson

In 17 playoff games with Johnson as defensive coordinator, the Eagles allowed 10 second-half touchdowns and a total of 94 points, or 5.5 per game. During those 17 second halves, the Eagles allowed 3.3 yards per carry and held QBs to a 63.0 passer rating. 

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A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones, an unbelievable Sam Bradford stat and the continuing saga of Reb Russell.

It's all right here in this weekend's Roob's 10 Eagles Observations! 

1. I keep trying to convince myself, "This will be the year we see the real Sidney Jones." And coming out of last year, I really believed Jones, going into Year 4, had a chance to really get his legs healthy this spring and then show everybody in minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games that he could hold down the CB2 opposite Darius Slay. But if the curtailed offseason and preseason hurts anybody the most, it's Jones. The Eagles have made it clear Avonte Maddox is the projected starter, and as long Maddox stays healthy I don't see how Sidney can win the job. Without any spring workouts or preseason games? Can Jones do enough just in a few weeks of training camp practice to beat out Maddox? I don't think so.

2. Who has the highest 4th-quarter passer rating among Eagles quarterbacks? Going back to 1994, as far back as the Pro Football Reference database logs quarter-by-quarter stats, here's the surprising answer (minimum of 100 4th-quarter attempts):

95.9 ... Sam Bradford

88.4 ... Michael Vick

84.5 ... Carson Wentz

83.6 ... Donovan McNabb

81.9 ... Nick Foles

76.9 ... Rodney Peele

76.7 ... Mark Sanchez

70.3 ... Ty Detmer

64.1 ... Bobby Hoying

62.7 ... Randall Cunningham

59.0 ... Koy Detmer 

(Remember, this only includes Randall's last two years with the Eagles) 

3. As good as T.O. was in 2004, he was on his way to an even bigger season in 2005 before he imploded and got himself suspended. Owens was 47-for-763 with 6 TDs after seven games, which put him on pace for 107 catches and 1,744 yards with 13 TDs. The only players in NFL history to reach those plateaus in a season are Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce. T.O.'s 93.5 yards per game as an Eagle is 23 yards per game more than any other WR in franchise history. DeSean Jackson (69.7), Mike Quick (64.0), Irving Fryar (63.9) and Jeremy Maclin (63.6) are next.

4. If the NFL does wind up reducing rosters from 90 to 75 because of the curtailed or eliminated preseason and for social distancing purposes, the league needs to give each team the opportunity to retain the rights of some or all of the players they're forced to release. Maybe pay them a weekly reduced salary and let them participate in virtual meetings and remain part of the team without actually being at practice. It would be a shame to see the Eagles forced to cut ties with promising kids like Adrian Killians Jr., Grayland Arnold, Raequan Williams, Mike Warren, Sua Opeta or Deontay Burnett because of the current circumstances. The league and the NFLPA need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen.

5. I just remembered the Eagles paid Nelson Agholor $9.387 million last year.

6. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship, but by the early 1930s, they may have been the worst professional sports team in Philadelphia history. They won only 3 of their last 24 games and scored 7 or fewer points in 20 of those 24 games. 

7. What are the odds that the Eagles' two recent Hall of Famers — Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael — went to the same high school? Both graduated from Raines High in Jacksonville. Raines has produced numerous other NFL players, including Lito Sheppard, Shawn Jefferson and Ken Burrough, along with baseball's Vince Coleman. Surprisingly, 16 high schools produced multiple Hall of Famers, including one — George Washington in L.A. — that produced three (James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Bill Walsh). 

8. Carson Wentz's 32 wins are 15th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. He's also one of only five of the top 20 that didn't win a playoff game during those four years. The others are Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Steve Grogan, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Ryan won one in his 5th season, Manning in his 6th and Palmer in his 14th. Dalton and Grogan never did win one. One of these years, Wentz will win one. Right?

9. Donovan McNabb had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games by the end of his fourth season.

10. Everyone seemed to enjoy last week's excerpt from newspaper coverage of the Eagles' first game in franchise history in 1933, so here's an excerpt from the Inquirer story reporting the first win in franchise history, 6-0 over the Reds later in 1933: 

"Tall, slab-sided, loose-limbed Swede Hanson, the new Galloping Ghost of the commercial gridiron, raced over the last white stripe today, as the Philadelphia Eagles achieved their first conquest of the season, 6-0. Hanson, lean and lank and lantern jawed, was the hero of this game, as he has starred in all of the frays in which the Eagles have been a part. For two periods, the Birds and their Red foes battered away at the line or sought the air but all in vain. In the third quarter, however, the Wraymen turned into a devastating horde." 

The story goes on to describe Hanson's touchdown, the game's only score: 

"It was fourth down now and the goal line beckoning in tantalizing fashion straight ahead. Then Hanson and (Reb) Russell outwtitted their foes. Reb came tearing in as if to shoot off tackle. The Reds tumbled through upon the former Purple hero, however, who was ready for this emergency. As the gang tried to pile up, Russell flipped a lateral, straight and unerring, right into Hanson's arms. Like a flash, the Swede lighted out for the end, slipped past two tackles and went over the line."

Wraymen? Really? Remember, that team's coach was Lud Wray. Guess I should start calling the Eagles the Dougmen?

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Greg Lewis vs. Steve Van Buren in Roob's 10 observations

Greg Lewis vs. Steve Van Buren in Roob's 10 observations

The one thing Howie Roseman has never done, Greg Lewis vs. Steve Van Buren and newspaper coverage of the first game the Eagles ever played.

Where else? Right here. In this weekend’s Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations!

1. Every time the Eagles are rumored to be interested in trading a first-round pick (or more) for a player — and those rumors pop up all the time — keep this in mind: Howie Roseman has NEVER traded a first- or second-round pick for a player. He’s traded picks for other picks a thousand times. But giving up a premium pick for a player already in the league is just not in his DNA. The last time the Eagles shipped a first- or second-round pick for a player was 2009, when they acquired Jason Peters from the Bills. That was a year before Howie became GM. Before that? Hugh Douglas was for a second-round pick in 1998. Ron Solt was for a one back in 1989. Those trades are fun to think about. Who wouldn’t want a young All-Pro talent like Jamal Adams? But when you take into account what you would have to give up, what you would have to pay and the simple fact that most players who demand trades never actually do get traded, you see why it’s so rare and why Howie just never makes that type of deal. It doesn’t mean it will never happen. But it hasn’t yet.

2. Greg Lewis played more games in an Eagles uniform than Steve Van Buren.

3. How great was Tommy McDonald? Each year from 1958 through 1963, McDonald had between eight and 13 TD catches. He was the first NFL player with six straight seasons with at least eight TD catches, and he did it in 12- and 14-game seasons. In the 57 years since, only six other players have caught eight or more TD passes in six straight seasons, and all but one played 16 games — Lance Alworth, Cris Carter and Antonio Brown (6 straight seasons), Antonio Gates (7 straight) Marvin Harrison (8) and Jerry Rice (11).

4. How insanely improbable was Rodney Peete’s record-setting playoff performance against the Lions in 1995? Rodney was 17-for-25 for 270 yards with three TDs and 0 INTs and a 143.3 passer rating in the Eagles’ historic 58-37 win at the Vet. But in Peete’s last five regular-season starts leading up to that game? He completed 56 percent of his passes, threw for 188 yards per game and had two TDs and eight INTs and a 57.1 passer rating. He was literally the worst QB in the NFL the last five weeks of the season! Then he had one of the greatest postseason games in Eagles history!

5. Only 17 teams in NFL history have reached the playoffs after being 6-7. The 2018 and 2019 Eagles are the only team to do it two years in a row.

6. The Eagles seem to be counting pretty heavily on Josh Sweat to be a major piece in the edge rush rotation. Sweat only had four sacks in 372 snaps last year, which isn’t great. But one encouraging number is 29 QB hits, which was only five off the team lead. Sweat also had eight tackles for loss, fourth-most on the team. I’m not sure what the Eagles have in Sweat but considering the other options behind Graham and Barnett — Genard Avery, Shareef Miller, Joe Ostman, Casey Toohill — the Eagles need significant production out of the former fourth-round pick out of Florida State.

7. Zach Ertz has had 11 games with 10 or more catches. The only NFL tight end with more career double-digit games is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who had 15 in his 17 seasons.  

8. Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins played a combined 2,103 snaps last year and had one reception of at least 40 yards. Deontay Burnett played 15 snaps last year and had one reception of at least 40 yards.

9. How about Keith Byars’ season in 1990? Keith threw four passes and all four were touchdowns. The most efficient passing season in NFL history! Byars threw six total TDs in his career (one as a Dolphin). The only modern RBs with more are Hall of Famers LaDainian Tomlinson (7) and Marcus Allen (6). Byars threw as many 50-yard TDs as an Eagle in 11 pass attempts as another former Ohio State Buckeyes - Bobby Hoying - did in 449 attempts (one). 

10. I found a story that appeared in the New York Daily News on Oct. 15, 1933. That was the day after the Giants beat the Eagles 56-0 in the first game in Eagles history. Here are some of the amazing excerpts:

• “The Eagles constantly were offsides, especially a youth known as Fidgety Felber, an end, but after a while officials didn’t seem to care much, nor did anyone else.”

• “Customers discovered that the Giants are thoroughly trained and skillful in completing involved plays, passing and kicking. The discovery was also made that the hapless Eagles as yet know very little about anything.”

• “Ripper Roberts of the Philadelphia eleven attempted to throw to one of his companions and the pass was intercepted by Mel Hein of the Giants. The next Giant maneuver was a pass, Newman to Hap Moran. Hap fixed the ball against his manly bosom and sprinted 70 yards for the first New York touchdown.”

I swear I did not make those up!

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