Eagles news and notes for 11/20
WHEN EAGLES PASS THE BALL
Carson Wentz had 100-plus passer ratings in three of his first four starts, but none since. He's averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt in the last four games and has thrown just two TD passes in the last five games. With the exception of the Giants game, when he had a dozen throws of 20-plus yards, he's mostly been dinking and dunking. Over the last four games, 73.5 percent of his throws have been 10 yards or less.
Twenty-three of his 25 completions last week against the Falcons were caught by either an RB (Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews), a TE (Zach Ertz, Brent Celek) or a slot receiver (Jordan Mathews). The Eagles have gotten little from their outside receivers. Nelson Agholor hasn't had more than four catches or 42 receiving yards in a game this season. The Seahawks have given up a league-best six touchdown passes, none to Tom Brady last Sunday.
“You knew there was something special about Randall,” former Eagles defensive back Eric Allen said. “[He was] extremely athletic, played with a great sense of self, understood that he was good, understood that he could do a lot of things that other quarterbacks in the game could not do, and he had a great deal of confidence.”
Despite his talent, Cunningham sat behind Ron Jaworski, a more traditional dropback passer, for most of his first two NFL seasons. But he became Philly’s starter after Jaworski was hurt late in the 1986 season — and the Eagles’ iconoclastic coach, Buddy Ryan, soon let Cunningham loose as the game’s first true dual-threat QB.
“Buddy Ryan allowed me to be the player he believed I could be,” Cunningham told me. “He saw something in me and gave me an opportunity to flourish as an athlete, and not just a quarterback, but to really take it to a whole other level.”
Cunningham wasn’t the first mobile QB in NFL history. Before 1986, six quarterbacks had put up 500 or more rushing yards in a season; in 1972 alone, two of them — Bobby Douglass of the Chicago Bears and Greg Landry of the Detroit Lions — combined for a whopping 1,492 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Those were the two best pre-Randall QB rushing seasons according to my yards above backup QB (YABQ) metric, which assigns a value to a quarterback’s passing and rushing statistics in a way similar to Football Outsiders’ yards above replacement (and can also be calculated throughout history). But Landry’s days as a scrambler were limited — he only had a couple more 200-yard rushing seasons in his 15-year NFL career — and Douglass, as great as he was running the ball, couldn’t throw. There was the occasional outlier, like Minnesota’s Fran Tarkenton, who was a strong passer and able scrambler, but before Cunningham, those players were seen as unicorns more than archetypes.
Cunningham ushered in the age of the running QB. In 1987, his first full season as Philadelphia’s starter, he passed for 349 more adjusted net yards than a backup-level QB (16th best in the NFL that year) and rushed for an additional 125 yards above backup (which easily led the league). It was the third time in history a quarterback had hit both of those benchmarks in the same season, after Landry in 1972 and Steve Grogan with the New England Patriots in 1978. And Cunningham was just getting warmed up.
Meet the new Howie Roseman. He handles his business a little differently. But he's generally the same as the old Roseman.
A year in exile brought about some changes, including less visibility during the season, but the biggest difference in the Eagles executive vice president of football operations - pre-Chip Kelly takeover vs. post - is that he has more organizational power than ever. The apparent success of Roseman's trade for Carson Wentz virtually assures his standing for years.
Less than two turns of the calendar ago, he nearly lost it all.
On Dec. 29, 2014, Roseman had just ended his final call-in radio show of the year. Two reporters were waiting in the wings at Chickie's & Pete's, hoping to ask the then-Eagles general manager about comments then-coach Kelly had made during his season-ending news conference.
In essence, Kelly had referred to Roseman as strictly a salary cap guy, while he praised then-vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble as a "heck of a football guy." A rift between Kelly and Roseman had been forming for months, but the coach's juxtaposition between the team's top two evaluators was the first public hint that their relationship problems could come to a head.
Roseman was then the only GM in the NFL to have a radio show on which fans could ask questions. He was often available to reporters afterward. But on this particular evening, Roseman declined to talk and was whisked away by Eagles staffers.
He wouldn't make another public comment for a little over a year.
Total points: 43.0
That’s currently the point total being offered over at topbet.eu. It’s an appropriately conservative number given the fact that these are two of the top three scoring defenses in the NFL. That being said, the Eagles have consistently scored in the 20s all season, no matter the opponent. The Seahawks, who have been more inconsistent in their point totals this season, have scored 20 or more in six of their last seven games. And while they may be 21st in the league in total points, that number is being held back by three extremely low scoring games — 12 points in Week 1, three in Week 2, and 6 in Week 7.
If you take those first two games out, Seattle’s scoring average jumps almost four whole points (from 21.44 PPG to 25.43 PPG), even with that 6-6 tie against the Cardinals. That’s likely closer to the Seattle offense you’ll see on Sunday, especially considering their a much better offensive team at home — they average 26.5 PPG at home, compared to 17.4 PPG on the road. Add in the fact that the Eagles defense hasn’t played nearly as well away from the Linc. The Eagles have allowed 122 of their 160 points against on the road (24.4 PPG). In four home games, they’ve allowed just 28 points TOTAL.
Two great defenses squaring off in Seattle has all the making of a low-scoring defensive contest. And while I took the under in my game prediction (41 total points), I’m starting to think this one may go the other way.
Almost three years ago, the lives of an Eagles fan and a Seahawks fan were forever intertwined.
For Reed Salmons, a Philadelphia fan through and through, it all began when his Dickinson College lacrosse coach sent an email encouraging the team to attend an on-campus bone marrow drive. A quick cheek swab put the then-22-year-old into the Be The Match database, which keeps track of DNA submissions. But, he never expected anything more to come of it.
Salmons understood the odds of being a match were slim, so the entire process was out-of-sight, out-of-mind within a few days. But suddenly, the college senior received news he hadn’t anticipated.
Salmons was a potential match for a 58-year-old man with leukemia. He had the opportunity to save a life.
“I thought that they were a bunch of telemarketers calling me because that had been happening a lot. I just kept ignoring these 800 numbers and then I got an email asking me to check my voicemail,” Salmons recalled. “I listened to my voicemail and it was like, ‘Please, please, please pick up the phone. We have this whole situation where you’re a possible match for someone with leukemia. We’ll tell you more details if you call us back.’ I called them back and that’s when they told me all about the potential match.
“They told me that the guy was 58, which is pretty much my father’s age. I didn’t know where he was at this point or who he was or anything about him except for his age and gender. But, I put myself in his kids’ shoes and was thinking, ‘What if someone said no to my father trying to get a donation if my dad had cancer?’ That was kind of the easy tipping point for me.”