Carson Wentz’s new-found muscle, what Doug Pederson better do Sunday – OR ELSE – and Andy Reid’s overnight drive to Baltimore.
It’s all here in this weekend’s Roob’s 10 random Eagles observations.
1. Much was made over the summer about how Carson Wentz had bulked up. With a healthy offseason for the first time in three years, he reported to camp noticeably bigger and stronger: “This offseason, I was really able to get after it and work out a little harder in my gym. I haven’t gained anything insane weight-wise, but I have definitely gained some weight.” Watching Carson these first two games, I can’t help wonder if he put on a little too much weight, too much muscle. He looks a bit slower afoot than he has in the past, a little lumbering, and I wonder if it’s affecting his movement in the pocket. Wentz has never been a huge running QB, but he’s always made plays on the move and used his legs to buy time and escape trouble. I haven’t seen that this year. And maybe it has nothing to do with the added weight, but something is very different about the way he’s playing, and the sooner he and the Eagles figure it out the better chance they have of salvaging the season.
2. The Eagles have scored 16 or fewer points in their last five games against the Bengals. Last time they scored more than 16 against Cincinnati was that 44-42 shootout win at the Vet in 1997, Bobby Hoying outgunning Boomer Esiason. That streak has to end Sunday, right? Right? Right???
3. It was impossible not to notice how crisp and efficient the Rams’ offense was Sunday and how clunky and ragged the Eagles’ offense was. The disparity was glaring. No doubt Wentz’s struggles are part of the reason. But part of the blame has to go to Doug Pederson’s play calling. He’s slumping, too. The offense just hasn’t had the balance, the rhythm, the snappiness it usually has. If the offense continues to sputter, Doug needs to consider handing play calling duties over to someone else, even if it’s temporary. The likely choice is Press Taylor, but I’d have Marty Mornhinweg do it. Marty is a heck of a play caller. Innovative, unpredictable, aggressive. In 2006, with the team 3-5 at the bye week, Andy Reid ceded play calling duties to Marty with excellent results. The Eagles went 6-2 the rest of the way, with five of the wins under Jeff Garcia. Handing off play calling frees the head coach up to focus on the big picture and gives the offense an injection of freshness. Maybe we’re not at that point yet. But we’re getting close.
4. Sean Payton and Jon Gruden were on the Eagles’ coaching staff in 1997, Payton and John Harbaugh in 1998 and Harbaugh and Andy Reid in 1999 with Pederson at quarterback. Those teams produced five head coaches that won Super Bowls. They also went 14-33-1. You never know.
5A. Eagles cornerbacks have five interceptions in the last 20 games.
5B. The last Eagles CB with two INTs in a game was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2011.
5C. Ronald Darby has the most INTs by an Eagles cornerback over the last decade. Six. Cary Williams and Rasul Douglas are next with five apiece, and Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills and Nnamdi Asomugha have four each.
6. In the Bengals’ opener, Austin Ekeler ran 19 times for 84 yards for the Chargers and Joshua Kelly was 12-for-60. And last week in their loss to the Browns, Nick Chubb ran 22 times for 124 yards and Kareem Hunt was 10-for-86. The Bengals can’t even pretend to stop the run. If you subtract kneel downs, they’ve allowed 5.3 yards per carry and 187 yards per game. If Doug doesn’t call 35 running plays Sunday, it’s a crime.
7. All four of Wentz’s INTs this year have been on 1st down. The entire rest of the NFL has thrown 14 interceptions on first down. So Wentz is responsible for 22 percent of all NFL 1st-down INTs this year. Entering this year, Wentz had 13 career INTs on 812 first down attempts. This year he has 4 in 39 attempts.
8. Today is the one-year anniversary of Mack Hollins’ last catch.
9. With Fletcher Cox questionable for Sunday with a quad injury, here’s a crazy fact: The last time the Eagles played a game without either Fletcher or Malcolm Jenkins in uniform was the final game of the 2012 season – Eagles-Giants at the Meadowlands in Andy Reid’s final game as Eagles head coach. Fletch has only missed two games since opening day 2013, both in 2017. Jenkins, of course, never missed a game from 2014 through 2019. Cox missed that game against the Giants – the final game of his rookie year – with a concussion.
10. How close are Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Ravens coach John Harbaugh? Reid and Harbaugh, who were together here from 1999 through 2007, meet Monday night in Baltimore in what should be an incredible game between two of the best teams in the NFL and two former MVP quarterbacks. But back in January of 2013, Reid had just been hired by the Chiefs and Harbaugh was still in Baltimore a few days before the Ravens flew to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII against the 49ers. Reid was still living in Philly, and one night the two of them were on the phone for hours talking football and life as Harbs prepared for his first Super Bowl as a head coach. It was close to midnight and they had been on the phone for hours when Reid finally said, “Look, this is ridiculous. I’m coming down there.” And he got in his truck and drove to Baltimore in the middle of the night so they could continue the conversation in person.