Malcolm Jenkins’ immeasurable value to the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl team, the unbelievable career of Eagles Hall of Fame draft pick George McAfee (who never played for the Eagles and a Reggie White stat that defies belief.
Here’s this weekend’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations!
1. The 2017 Eagles team was composed of a ton of players who were new here, who weren’t versed in the culture that Doug Pederson building and who didn’t have a whole lot invested in being Philadelphia Eagles. Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Corey Graham, Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Timmy Jernigan, Ronald Darby, Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Chris Long … all played huge roles in the Super Bowl run and none were Eagles in 2016. How did all those new pieces grow into the Eagles’ culture so quickly and seamlessly and work together to win a Super Bowl? One of the biggest reasons was Malcolm Jenkins. I think leadership is often over-rated, but what Jenkins was able to do in 2017 was serve as Pederson’s sort-of deputy in the locker room and demand that all these new players hold themselves to the same high standards that the returning players like himself , Rodney McLeod, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and others had established during that difficult 2016 season. Jenkins by then had established himself as one of the NFL’s best safeties, he had played for a Super Bowl championship team in New Orleans, and his words and actions carried a ton of weight. Jenkins, who announced his retirement on Wednesday, was a tremendous player during his six years here. Brian Dawkins is the only safety in Eagles history to make more Pro Bowls. But his leadership and impact on his teammates was so natural and effortless and organic, and it was a huge part of that unforgettable 2017 run.
2. Interesting note about Jenkins: He had 21 interceptions in his career and returned seven of them for touchdowns. That’s the highest percentage of INTs turned into pick-6’s in NFL history by any player with at least 15 interceptions. Next-highest is Karlos Dansby, who returned six of his 20 INTs for touchdowns. Jenkins ranks 429th in NFL history in interceptions but 12th in INT touchdown returns.
MORE: Eagles mailbag: Which positions will be better, worse in 2022?
3. Since 2003, the Eagles have drafted 30 defensive backs. Of those 30, Nate Allen has the most interceptions as an Eagle with 10. The Eagles are the only NFL team that hasn’t drafted a player since 2003 that has more than 10 INTs for the team that drafted them.
4. The working relationship between Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles may be unique in NFL history. It was 1982 – some 40 years ago – that Arians replaced Wayne Hardin as head coach at Temple and inherited Bowles, a sophomore defensive back from Elizabeth High in North Jersey. And this week Arians retired from coaching, designating Bucs defensive coordinator Bowles as his hand-picked successor. Bowles, who replaced Juan Castillo as Eagles defensive coordinator in October of 2012, is one of five former Andy Reid assistants now coaching in the NFL – along with Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh, Sean McDermott and Ron Rivera. The intertwined coaching resumes of Arians and Bowles are remarkable.
5. I’ll be flat-out shocked if the Eagles don’t draft a wide receiver in the 1st round along with a couple defensive players. All we keep hearing from Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman is giving Jalen Hurts the pieces he needs to take the next step as a quarterback, and the Eagles simply do not have those pieces right now. There’s no way on Earth they believe Zach Pascal is the extent of those pieces. I know three years in a row isn’t normal, but you can’t NOT take a WR just because you screwed up on Jalen Reagor two years ago. The Eagles have this luxury of three top-20 picks, they have flexibility to move up if they want, and this is a deep and talented WR draft. If they have a shot at Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Drake London or Jameson Williams either where they’re sitting or with a move up, how can they not do it? You can’t go into 2022 with DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward and expect your young quarterback to flourish. You can’t.
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6. Nick Foles’ 98.8 career postseason pass rating is 9th-highest in NFL history. But what if Alshon Jeffery didn’t cost him two interceptions? What if Jeffery didn’t bobble that bomb down the right sideline at the 2-yard-line in the Super Bowl and virtually hand it to Stephon Gilmore for an interception? And what if he caught the pass in New Orleans that wound up going through his hands for a Marshon Lattimore INT a year later? Those should have been 41-yard and 9-yard completions. Add 50 yards and subtract two INTs to Foles’ career postseason stats and his passer rating jumps from 98.8 to 104.5. That would be 5th-highest all-time (behind Jeff Hostetler, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Bart Starr).
7. With Jenkins retiring, only 10 of the Eagles’ 22 Super Bowl starters are currently on NFL rosters. Jenkins, Stefen Wisniewski, Brandon Brooks, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount, Nigel Bradham, Corey Graham have retired, Tim Jernigan, Mychal Kendricks, Alshon Jeffery and Vinny Curry haven’t played since 2020 and aren’t currently on rosters, and Rodney McLeod is a free agent. Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Brandon Graham are the only remaining Super Bowl starters still with the Eagles. Halapoulivaati Vaiti, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are still in the league with other teams. Five years is an eternity in the NFL.
8. Reggie White’s 21 sacks in the strike-shortened 12-game 1987 season is one of the greatest achievements in NFL history. That’s 1.75 sacks per game. At that rate he would have had 28 in a full 16-game season. And if he played in the three strike games he might have had 50. Reggie had at least one sack in 11 of 12 games, at least two sacks in eight games and 14 sacks over the last seven games.
Here’s a look at Reggie’s historic 1987 season:
Week 1: 1 bag vs. Washington
Week 2: 1 ½ bags vs. Saints
Week 7: 2 ½ bags vs. Cowboys
Week 8: 2 bags vs. cards
Week 9: 0 bags vs. Washington
Week 10: 3 bags vs. Giants
Week 11: 2 bags vs. cards
Week 12: 2 bags vs. Patriots
Week 13: 2 bags vs. Giants
Week 14: 1 bag vs. Dolphins
Week 15: 2 bags vs. Jets
Week 16: 2 bags vs. bills
READ: Top draft analyst on possible Eagles draft trades, trade-up candidates
9. Imagine rushing for 20 touchdowns in your career? Decent. Imagine intercepting 20 passes? Even better. Now doing imagine both? In the same career? There’s only one player in NFL history who had 20 rushing TDs and 20 interceptions, and he was drafted by the Eagles. George McAfee was the Eagles’ 1st-round pick in 1940, No. 2 overall out of Duke. But McAfee never played for the Eagles. Bears owner George Halas traded four players for McAfee before his rookie season, and McAfee wound up having a Hall of Fame career with the Bears despite losing three prime years serving in the Navy during World War II. Some of McAfee’s accomplishments:
- Rushed for 1,685 yards and 21 TDs with a 4.9 average and had 85 catches for 1,359 yards and 11 more TDs
- Recorded 25 INTs and two pick-6’s. In his 1941 all-pro season, became the only player in history with 3 rushing TDs, 3 receiving TDs and 6 INTs in the same season
- Averaged 12.8 yards per punt return, to this day highest in NFL history (minimum 100 returns)
- Also averaged 36.7 yards per punt, threw three touchdown passes and averaged 27.1 yards per kick return
- Only player in history with at least two career TDs passing, rushing, receiving, returning punts and returning kicks
McAfee was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966. Along with Lou Creekmur, one of two Hall of Famers the Eagles drafted who never played for the Eagles.
10. For those of you who enjoyed the brilliant film Summer of Soul, which Jeff Lurie executive produced, Lurie’s Play / Action Pictures is currently developing another music documentary, this one chronicling the remarkable but tragic life of songwriter and keyboard player Billy Preston, who recorded and performed with the Beatles and Rolling Stones, among many others (that’s him playing the Fender Rhodes solo on the Beatles’ “Get Back”). Preston led a difficult life and hid his homosexuality from his family and virtually everyone else because of his strict religious upbringing until just before his death at just 59 in 2006. No release date on the still-untitled film, but it sounds fascinating.
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