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Eagle Eye: Eagles-Redskins predictions
Rich Kotite, Riley Cooper, Mike Mamula, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Peter Gabriel, Jeff Sydner and John Tesh.
What else could it be?
My weekly 25 Random Observations!
1. The Eagles’ 10-game home losing streak is one of the more baffling things in recent Eagles history. If they’re good enough to go 5-1 on the road -- including wins in Oakland and Green Bay, two very tough places to play -- they’ve got to be good enough to win at least one game at the Linc. Right? Going into Sunday’s game against the Redskins, the Eagles’ streak is tied for 10th-longest in NFL history. An 11th consecutive home loss would mean the Eagles would be tied for seventh-longest home losing streak ever. The top six: The 2008-10 Rams (14 in a row), the 1988-89 Cowboys (14), the 1995-97 Jets (13), 1976-77 expansion Buccaneers (13), 1942 through 1946 Chicago Cards (13) and 1972-73 Oilers (13).
2. Who coached the Jets the first two years of that 13-game home losing streak? None other than our pal, Richie the K. Just to put Rich Kotite’s coaching career in perspective: After going public with his contract demands nine games into the 1994 season and telling the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I just want to be judged solely by my record,” Kotite lost his last seven games with the Eagles, then went 3-13 and 1-15 with the Jets. So after demanding to be judged solely by his record, Kotite went 4-35. That’s 39 games, four wins. That’s our Richie.
3. Keep this in mind while watching the Eagles: 36 of the 53 on the active roster are 26 or younger. That includes Fletcher Cox (22); Brandon Boykin, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, Mychal Kendricks, Bennie Logan and Earl Wolff (23); Nick Foles, Najee Goode and Damion Square (24); Nate Allen, Vinny Curry, LeSean McCoy and Cedric Thornton (25); and Riley Cooper, DeSean Jackson and Jason Kelce (26). That is quite a nucleus.
4. It’s so great to see Curry finally playing at a consistently high level, not just as a pass rusher –- which we’ve always known he can do -- but the last week or two as a capable run defender as well. Curry’s improvement has meant more snaps. He was inactive the first two weeks, then averaged 17 defensive snaps the next six weeks, but he’s averaged 31 the last two games. Curry is such a great kid and wants to do well so badly. Four sacks isn’t a ton, but he has three in the last four games and seems like he’s really turned the corner. Tough not to root for Vinny.
5. Can you guess the last player other than Trent Cole the Eagles drafted to record six sacks in a season for the Eagles? Would you believe Corey Simon, drafted 13 years ago? The last defensive end other than Cole drafted by the Eagles to record six sacks in a season in an Eagles uniform? Mike Mamula had 8½ in 1999. That’s why it’s so much fun seeing Curry start to make plays. It’s been so long since the Eagles drafted a guy who can actually get to the quarterback.
6. How rare is what the Eagles did the last two weeks? Winning consecutive road games by 14 or more points? Andy Reid coached here 14 years and had a lot of success. The Eagles were 65-46-1 on the road under Reid, the third-best road record in the NFL from 1999 through 2012 (behind only the Patriots’ 72-40 and the Colts’ 69-43). Yet Reid won road games in consecutive weeks by 14 or more points only once. That was in 2006, 36-22 at the Meadowlands against the Giants and 23-7 in Dallas. Before that? The Eagles also won consecutive weeks by 14 or more points on the road twice in the 1940s and once in the early 1950s. And that’s it. Five times in 81 years.
8. Whenever I hear John Mayer sing, I want to stab myself in the ears with burning iron rods.
9. What Riley Cooper has been doing the last month or so is truly remarkable. He ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards over the last five weeks, and with three more touchdowns he’ll join a select group of Eagles wide receivers to record 10 touchdowns catches in a season. Since 1970, only Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick (three times), Hall of Famer Cris Carter, Calvin Williams, Irving Fryar, Terrell Owens and Jeremy Maclin have hit double digits in TD catches for the Eagles. Seven guys in 44 years, and some of the top receivers in Eagles history. Elite company. And Riley Cooper is close to joining them. He’s second in the NFL in yards per catch. And if he can average 74 yards per game the rest of the year, he’ll hit 1,000 yards for the season. Riley Cooper. Who woulda thunk it.
10. RG3 isn’t running like last year, but he’s really been chucking the ball up and down the field lately. Last year, Griffin ran for 54 yards per game and threw for 213. This year, he’s running for 33 per game but throwing for 272. That’s the most passing yards per game ever by a Redskins quarterback. He’s got some very good weapons in Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, Leonard Hankerson and Alfred Morris, and he’s getting them the ball effectively. Just because he doesn’t run that much anymore doesn’t mean RG3 isn’t extremely dangerous. He is.
11. Foles has already had four games this year in which he’s completed at least 64 percent of his passes with two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. No quarterback in Eagles history has ever more such games in a season. Only Donovan McNabb (2004) and Randall Cunningham (1992) also had four.
12. Can’t rave enough about the coaching staff Chip Kelly put together. When you see young players improving in chunks and playing sound fundamentals, tackling, blocking, hitting -- that’s the direct result of a group of outstanding position coaches who can teach. Need an example? Watch Nate Allen. His evolution into a steady, consistent safety is a direct reflection of D-backs coaches John Lovett and Todd Lyght. By re-teaching him how to form tackle and re-shaping the pursuit angles he takes, they’ve turned a guy who I thought was likely to be released into an effective if unspectacular part of an improving defense. Andy Reid’s staff was a disaster the last few years.
13. If it uses auto-tune, it’s not music. Period.
14. I have a hunch when all is said and done, Drexel will be the second-best hoops team in the city, behind Villanova.
15. Here’s your weekly Sean McDermott update: The Panthers’ defense has allowed nine touchdowns in nine games this year, just six TDs since Week 3. The Panthers over the last five weeks have given up just 57 points, or 11.4 per game. Sean will be a head coach. It’s just a matter of where and when.
16. The Eagles have had 28 touchdown drives this year. None of them were over four minutes. Fifteen of the 28 were under two minutes, and seven were under a minute. Of those seven, all but one went at least 57 yards. Ten of the 28 were three plays or less. The 28 drives averaged 65 yards in 1:45.
17. The Eagles have scored 19 road touchdowns on offense since their last home touchdown on offense. Their last offensive TD at the Linc was in September. Week 3 vs. the Chiefs.
18. At home, the Eagles are averaging 14.0 points per game -- 31st-worst in the NFL (ahead of only the Jaguars, at 5.3 points per game). On the road, the Eagles are averaging 32.7 points per game -- by far the best in the NFL. At their current pace, the Eagles will score 261 points on the road, which would be the eighth-most in NFL history.
19. Whenever we sit around and talk about the worst decisions in Eagles history -- signing Nnamdi Asomugha or Stacy Andrews, drafting Jerome McDougle or Danny Watkins, firing McDermott and replacing him with Juan Castillo -- one catastrophically bad decision always seems to be forgotten. But in late August 1994, Rich Kotite had to decide between two wide receivers to keep on the roster on final cut-down day. One was a Cowboys castoff, Jimmy Smith, and the other a sixth-round pick from Hawaii in his third season, Jeff Sydner. Kotite kept Sydner. Smith went on to the Jaguars and caught 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns over the next 11 seasons. During a span when the Eagles were so desperate for wide receivers they were running Michael Timpson, Torrance Small, James Thrash and Charles Johnson out there, Smith was second only to Marvin Harrison in both catches and receiving yards during that 11-year period (only 44 fewer than Harrison), and when he retired after the 2005 season, he was seventh in NFL history in catches and 11th in yards. Imagine if young Donovan McNabb had Smith to throw to when he arrived in Philly? What about Sydner? He finished his career with three catches for 52 yards and no touchdowns. Way to go, Richie.
20. Somebody on Twitter asked me if I had one vote and had to choose between Peter Gabriel and Yes -- who are both finalists for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame -- which would I choose? Very tough call. Gabriel, of course, is already in as part of Genesis through Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. His first three solo albums were just brilliant, and he’s still active, still touring -- his show at the Wells Fargo Center last year was amazing. But I’d have to go with Yes. They should have been in long ago. Through an insane number of personnel changes and lineups, they’ve sold out arenas for 40 years. They’ve had nine top-10 albums and even a No. 1 single. But more than anything, they are simply one of the most innovative and influential band in popular music history. Honestly, it’s hard to take the R&R Hall of Fame seriously. There are tons of artists who have been inducted that have no business being in there and a ton who haven’t been inducted who are just glaring omissions (see story). But any Rock Hall of Fame without Yes is a disgrace.
21. It’s impossible not to look ahead to Dec. 29 in Dallas and an Eagles-Cowboys game that will most likely determine the NFC East winner. With that in mind, consider this: The Eagles are 8-1 since 2000 against the Cowboys in December. Tony Romo is 58-34 in his career from September through November (a .630 winning percentage) and 13-17 in December (.433).
22. Gotta love this Robbie Anderson kid, Temple wide receiver. If you don’t know his story … he’s from Fort Lauderdale and left Temple because he was homesick. But he missed playing, missed the school, so he returned to Philly, enrolled back in Temple and rejoined the team. He lost his scholarship when he quit, so he’s playing this year as a walk-on. Anderson, a 6-foot-3 junior who played cornerback last year, had 239 yards against SMU and was close to 200 again Saturday for the Owls in their heartbreaking loss to Central Florida. I love that kind of story.
23. Getting retweeted by John Tesh last weekend was one of the highlights of my sportswriting career. I mean, come on … John Tesh!
24. It blows my mind that the ancient Egyptians could build the Great Pyramid of Giza out of 2.3 million limestone blocks in 2560 B.C. faster than it will take to repair I-95 south between the Betsy Ross Bridge and Vine Street Expressway.
25. Nick Foles is averaging 9.2 yards per pass attempt, highest in the NFL and actually fourth-highest in the last 20 years (behind Kurt Warner in 2000, Chris Chandler in 1998 and Aaron Rodgers in 2011). Yet I still keep hearing he doesn’t have a strong enough arm. What are you watching, people?