10 observations from Eagles-Lions

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10 observations from Eagles-Lions

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DETROIT — From 1933 through the Miami game, three quarterbacks threw five touchdowns and no interceptions in a game against the Eagles. Frank Filchock in 1944, Don Meredith in 1966 and Eli Manning in 2012 in Andy Reid’s final game.

Now two have done it in the span of five days.

Nothing illustrates just how wretched the Eagles have become better than that.

After one of the worst two-game stretches in Eagles history — a 45-17 loss to the Bucs Sunday and a 45-14 loss to the Lions on Thursday (see Instant Replay) — it’s hard to imagine owner Jeff Lurie allowing this to continue without people losing their jobs.

So here is my Thanksgiving Day edition of Roob’s 10 observations.

And I didn’t even get to mention how bad Big Sean was.

1. Jeff Lurie is a patient guy, and a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have imagined any scenario in which he would make a coaching change after the season. Not when Chip Kelly went 10-6 his first two years. Not when he made what’s really designed to be a long-term move by giving him GM powers. But I don’t think anybody imagined it would get this bad this fast. The Eagles the last three weeks have played some of the worst football in franchise history. And that’s not hyperbole. They blew a 13-point lead at home, they became the first team in NFL history to allow a QB to throw five touchdowns and a back to run for 230 yards in the same game — again at home — and then they allowed three passing TDs in the first half for a second straight week for the first time in franchise history. This is uncharted waters. Honestly, this feels like 1994, Kotite’s last year. It feels like 1998, Ray Rhodes' last year. It feels like 2012, Big Red’s last year. A month ago I never dreamed I’d say this, but watching the Eagles these last few weeks, I don’t see how Lurie can bring Chip back for a fourth year (here's Kelly on the loss).

2. Another part of the equation for Lurie is that he’s very big on public perception. Lurie can’t be happy with the way Chip has handled the losing streak in public. He’s come across as unlikeable, arrogant and condescending these last few weeks, and if Lurie is teetering about whether to fire Kelly or not at the end of the season, Kelly’s demeanor could be a factor. Lurie wants a coach who is a classy, likeable front man for the organization, and Kelly has been anything but. You really tell a lot more about a man by how he handles losing than winning, and Kelly has really managed to turn off an entire city this year. If I was Lurie, I wouldn’t want him anywhere near my football team anymore (here are the players on Kelly).

3. Once upon a time — like a month ago — this was a pretty good secondary. I know, it’s hard to believe now, but the Eagles were 10th in the NFL seven weeks into the season with 10 touchdown passes allowed. They were battling for the ball, they were challenging receivers, they were tackling, they were aggressive and confident. Now they’re the second team in NFL history to allow five touchdown passes in back-to-back games (see story). I don’t even know how it’s possible to go from where they were to where they are. Somewhere along the line, this defense simply lost its heart. Lost its will. Lost its fight. I’m not entirely sure how much of it is Bill Davis’ fault, but I don’t think anybody would be surprised if Davis pays with his job as soon as the Eagles’ charter lands in Philly Thursday night.

4. To put the secondary’s performance in perspective: During the five years from 2000 through 2004, only three quarterbacks threw as many as three TDs in a game vs. Eagles — Brady, Peyton and Patrick Ramsey. In 2000, the Eagles allowed 11 passing touchdowns all year. Bobby. Troy. Dawk. Damon Moore. Times have changed.

5. This franchise has been around a long time, but this is the first time the Eagles have ever allowed 45 points in consecutive games. Think about that for a moment. They just allowed 90 points in five days. That ought to be impossible. The Eagles are making history all right.

6. Remember when we were all concerned that the Eagles might not go 3-0 against the three last-place teams they were about to face? In the span of 12 days, they got beat by three teams that were 7-17 at the start of this stretch. By a combined 110-43.

7. Back to Chip for a minute. He will now become the first Eagles coach since Marion Campbell in the mid-1980s to fail to advance to the second round of the playoffs in his first three seasons. Buddy Ryan won the NFC East in 1988 and got a first-round bye, Rich Kotite beat the Saints in a wild-card game at the Superdome in his second year, Ray Rhodes beat the Lions at the Vet in a wild-card in his first year, and by his third year, Andy Reid had reached the conference semifinals twice and gotten to an NFC championship game. This is three years now. And the Eagles are right back where they were when he got here. Except without LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis and next year’s second-round pick.

8. The Eagles have one takeaway during this three-game losing streak. And it was by Zach Ertz. That pretty much says it all.

9. Attention, Mr. Brady: No NFL team has ever allowed five touchdown passes in three straight games.

10. I’m hesitant to single out one guy after a loss like this, but it is just impossible to watch DeMarco Murray play football (more on Murray here). This franchise has such a proud history of running backs. Just in the last 20 years, we’ve seen Ricky Watters, Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy come through Philly and run the ball with the hard-nosed mentality of a defensive player. I don’t know how Murray led the NFL in rushing last year. I guess that monstrous offensive line had a lot to do with it. But Murray just doesn’t even compete out there. He plays football like he doesn’t want to be playing football. Murray had another brutal performance Thursday, carrying 14 times for 30 yards for 2.1 yards per carry. I saw some life out of Kenjon Barner, who ran seven times for 30 yards late in the game. It’s time to sit Murray down and let him watch. I don’t care how much money he’s making. Enough.

Jeremiah Trotter, Merrill Reese to enter Eagles Hall of Fame

Jeremiah Trotter, Merrill Reese to enter Eagles Hall of Fame

Legendary announcer Merrill Reese and All-Pro middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter will enter the Eagles’ Hall of Fame, the team announced Tuesday evening.

Reese and Trotter will be enshrined on Nov. 28, during halftime of the Eagles’ Monday night game against the Packers at the Linc.

Trotter, a third-round pick in 1998, spent eight years with the Eagles during three separate stints — 1998 through 2001, 2004 through 2006 and again in 2009. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro.

The Axe Man is one of four linebackers in Eagle history to make four Pro Bowl teams. The others are Chuck Bednarik, Maxie Baughan and Bill Bergey. 
 
“Jeremiah Trotter embodies everything we strive for as an organization,” owner Jeff Lurie said in a statement. “He was an emotional and inspirational player who captured the hearts of our fans. As an anchor of our defense, he led with an immeasurable amount of toughness and a fiery attitude.”
 
Trotter left the Eagles after the 2001 season but returned after two years with the Redskins. After beginning the 2004 season as a backup behind Mark Simoneau, Trotter entered the lineup halfway through the season and wound up as one of the keys to the defense that helped the Eagles reach their only Super Bowl in the last 35 years.  

He wasn’t just a force in the Eagles’ defensive interior, Trotter was an inspirational leader with his passion, his work ethic and his fiery locker room personality. 

Reese this fall begins his 40th year behind the microphone with the Eagles and is the longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the NFL.

With his signature deep booming voice and unrivaled passion for the Eagles, Reese has become one of the most popular broadcasters in Philadelphia history alongside legends like Harry Kalas, Gene Hart and Richie Ashburn.

He has never missed a game since taking over as the Eagles’ voice on opening day of 1977 and has as much energy and enthusiasm now as ever. He’s also remarkably thorough in his preparation, whether he is announcing a meaningless preseason game or a Super Bowl.

“When you think about some of the greatest moments in Eagles history, you can hear Merrill’s voice, living and dying with every play, just like we all do,” Lurie said. 

“What makes him so special, and so engrained in the fabric of our franchise, is how dedicated he is to the team, the fans and his job. Merrill is a legend, and he is the absolute best at what he does.”

Reese, a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, is a lifelong Philadelphia-area resident. He graduated from Overbrook High School and Temple and currently lives in Blue Bell.

Reese was an age-group tournament tennis player before knee problems led him to golf, which is his current obsession.

The Eagles Hall of Fame was founded in 1987 as the Eagles Honor Roll. It was largely inactive from 1997 through 2003, with only one induction class during that span — trainer Otho Davis and the 1948 and 1949 NFL championship teams.

From 1997 through 2008, only two individual players were enshrined — Bob Brown in 2004 and Reggie White in 2005. 

The Honor Roll was revived on a full-time basis in 2009 with the induction of Al Wistert and Randall Cunningham and renamed the Eagles Hall of Fame in 2011.

Reese and Trotter are the 42nd and 43rd members of the Eagles Hall of Fame. The full list can be found here.

Tim Tebow shows power in baseball tryout but clearly still needs work

Tim Tebow shows power in baseball tryout but clearly still needs work

LOS ANGELES -- Tim Tebow crushed a batting-practice fastball with a confident left-handed swing, sending it into the trees next to the scoreboard beyond right field.

The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback only paused an instant to appreciate his shot, and then he went right back to work on the unlikely next chapter in his unique athletic story.

Tebow took his first big swings at a baseball career Tuesday, showing off a powerful bat and other developing skills during a workout in front of dozens of major league scouts and reporters.

The 29-year-old aspiring outfielder went through drills at the University of Southern California's Dedeaux Field for over an hour, confidently chasing a dream deferred for 12 years. Declaring his football career essentially over, Tebow insists he is serious about becoming more than a baseball curiosity.

"The goal would be to have a career in the big leagues," Tebow said. "I just want to be someone to pursue what I believe in, what I'm passionate about. A lot of people will say, `But what if you fail? What if you don't make it?' Guess what? I don't have to live with regret. I did everything I could. I pushed it. I would rather be someone that could live with peace and no regret than what-if, or being scared."

Tebow's heavily muscled, 255-pound physique and 6.70-ish time in the 60-yard dash were impressive to the scouts. He also showed undeniable hitting ability with a series of line drives and long homers during batting practice.

But Tebow also showed he still needs baseball seasoning when he faced live pitching from former big-leaguers David Aardsma and Chad Smith, who repeatedly fooled him with off-speed pitches. Tebow could only grin in frustration after he fanned on a series of changeups and breaking balls.

"There is 100 percent nerves, no question about it," Tebow said. "When you're at the combine or a pro day, you have your body of work for four years, everything that you did, so it's not just that one day. Here, you might have seen me when I was 17, but you haven't seen me since. A lot goes into it, so you'd better show something. A lot of nerves, a lot of pressure, for sure."

Tebow hasn't played baseball regularly since his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida. He left early to enroll at Florida, beginning a fabled college football career that led to the 2007 Heisman and two national titles for the Gators.

But 12 years ago, Tebow was a .494-hitting, all-county outfielder who loved hitting a baseball every bit as much as he loved leading a huddle.

"The second-hardest decision I ever made was giving up baseball to go to the University of Florida and play football," said Tebow, whose choice of Florida over Alabama was the toughest. "There wasn't a season that went by that it wasn't something that I thought about. When I felt like I had this opportunity, I wanted to take it and pursue it with everything I had."

A few big-league teams talked privately with Tebow after the workout, and he seems unlikely to have trouble finding an organization willing to give a chance to a celebrity with clear baseball ability, however rudimentary.

Tebow realizes he is still far from the big leagues, but he hopes to play in the instructional league in Arizona next month before heading into winter league ball, perhaps even in Latin America.

Tebow decided to pursue his baseball aspirations in earnest three months ago. He began training at a baseball school in Arizona run by Chad Moeller. The former big-league catcher saw daily improvements in Tebow, from his bat speed to his mental game.

"If I'm a team, I'm signing him," Moeller said. "I'm taking him to instructional ball. I'd get him to the Arizona Fall League and get him matched up against some good arms and see what happens. I don't think this is one you're going to take your time on, because he's not a young kid. So you're going to push him. For him and for the teams, I thought if he goes out and performs the way he could and is capable of, you could see it in a year, a year and a half, definitely in the big leagues."

Tebow hasn't played in the NFL since 2012, becoming a broadcaster and resisting attempts to move him to another football position as his quarterback career evaporated. Even while he got an extended look last year from the Philadelphia Eagles, who cut him after the preseason, Tebow said his mind already had wandered back to baseball.

"It's not about publicity," Tebow said. "It's definitely not about money. It's a pay cut to do this. Just pursue what you love, right? Regardless of what else happens. Regardless of if you fail, or if you fall on your face. If that's the worst thing that can happen, that's OK. When did that become such a bad thing? When did pursuing what you love become a bad thing, regardless of the result? For me, yeah, I'll make all the sacrifices to be the best I can."

Eagles claim DT Bruce Gaston off waivers

Eagles claim DT Bruce Gaston off waivers

The Eagles' roster now stands at the max of 75, as the team claimed defensive tackle Bruce Gaston off waivers on Tuesday from Chargers. 

The roster, which had to be cut to 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, must be at 53 by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Gaston has played for the Dolphins, Cardinals, Packers and Bears since entering the NFL in 2014. He's also spent time with the Patriots, Vikings and most recently the Chargers.

The 6-foot-2, 310-pounder had eight total tackles and a sack in seven games for the Bears last season, his last NFL game action.

Gaston, 24, played collegiately at Purdue.

The Eagles take on the Jets at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday (7 p.m./NBC10) in their preseason finale before opening the regular season on Sept. 11 at home against the Browns.