Eagles Notes: A star needs to regain its magic

An idea for Dallas Goedert and a Pro Bowl star, the Eagles need to recapture their magic and a midseason acquisition that was disappointing.

Here are Rob’s 10 random notes for the week with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coming to LINK Sunday night.

1. Next time you’re in a panic because the Eagles didn’t overpay for a bunch of free agents in the first 72 hours of free agency, consider this: AJ Brown, James Bradberry, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — and now add Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh to the roster – they all became Eagles at least six weeks into free agency. Howie finds the guys. The offseason isn’t about who makes the first huge push into free agency, overpaying the biggest names, and getting the biggest headlines. It’s about building your roster by making clever, user-friendly, and often unconventional acquisitions, and no one does it better than Howie Roseman. Look at the Eagles’ #1 pass defense: They acquired Pro Bowler Darius Slay from the Lions in the third and fifth round, waited two months in free agency last spring until the Giants forced Bradberry cut, alleged Marcus Epps in mid-November 2019 after he was waived by the Vikings And they stole NFL interception leader Gardner Johnson from the Saints for fifth and sixth round picks with 11 days left on Opening Day. For Howie, roster improvement isn’t just about the draft and free agency. It is a year round job.

2. My first thought as soon as we learned Dallas Goedert was out for at least four games was, “What a blow to the Eagles offense.” My next thought was, “Dang, there’s his chance at the Pro Bowl.” But did you know? Maybe not. Goedert still has the second-most receiving yards among NFC tight ends—two Pro Bowl teams—and he’s 114 ahead of third-ranking Tyler Higbee of the 4-7 Rams. If voters just look at the stats, they’ll see Goedert rushing at 60.4 yards per game, best in the NFC (at seven yards per game). Coaches and defensive players all over the league know how good a receiver and blocker Goedert is, and what helps Goedert is that the voting window is already open, so even though not playing for at least a month is going to hurt Goedert’s overall numbers, people who vote now will only go by the stats General, and Goedert is still at the top of the rankings – and could remain so for another two weeks. He plays for a 9-1 team. Injury or not, Goedert is the best tight end in the NFC and it would be nice to see him recognized.

3. Miles Sanders is rushing for 1,286 yards, 10 touchdowns, and a 4.9 average. No one in franchise history has achieved these three criteria in one season.

4. The Eagles need AJ Brown to get back to being AJ Brown. His first seven games, Brown ranked fifth in the NFL with 94 yards per game and 12th at 16.9 yards per catch. The last three, he is 59th with 42 yards per game and 49th at 12.6 yards per catch. Combined with a deep rambling ball that turned into an interception in the Washington game and a bad fumble in the Colts game. Even the best WRs don’t have big games every week and Brown is still having a huge year rushing for over 1,300 yards. But especially with Goedert out for at least three more games, the Eagles need the Browns to be better than they have been in the past few games.

5. Jalen Hurts on Sunday became the first Eagles QB with a passing TD and a rushing TD in a fourth quarter victory in 12 years. On December 2, 2010, on Linc’s Thursday Night, the Texans led the Eagles 24-20 in the fourth quarter. Michael Vick gave the Eagles the lead with a two-yard TD rush of the game with 13:04 left and then added a five-yard TD run by Owen Schmitt with 4:18 left, and the Eagles won 34-24.

6. I always felt like Josh Soot was underachieving in the five seasons he’s been here. He’s caught 21 sacks since becoming a defensive starter in 2019, and that ranks 31st in the league among edge tackles. He made the Pro Bowl last year with a late rush, but even then he’d only had 3.0 sacks in December. This year, Sweat got off to a fast start — two sacks in his first three games — but since then he’s only got one game in seven games. What is the value of sweat? Turn to Pro Football Focus, which isn’t an end-all but does a good job of measuring things like passing pressure. PFF ranks the Race 10th among all edge racers with a score of 84.6 overall and 19th specifically in terms of compression generation. He also ranked eighth as a running back with a score of 80.2. Bottom line: You’d love to see Sweat finish off some of his pressure with sacks, but overall he’s been very productive this year.

7. The Packers come to Link fourth in the NFL in pass defense and 25th in rushing defense. A great opportunity for the Eagles to build on the running game like they did in the second half of last year, when they averaged 194 yards per game. The Eagles have run it well this year, but they haven’t had one of those brutal games where they really unleashed their streak on the opposing d-line since Jacksonville. Now, part of that is because they were very effective throwers. But I see Green Bay as the perfect opponent to really launch a ground attack, wear down a defensive front that doesn’t have much depth and take over. That doesn’t mean don’t throw it away. That means riding in the o-line and running backs, controlling the clock, hitting the D-line Packers, keeping Aaron Rodgers off the field and out Linc with a win.

8. Jalen Hurts passing numbers this year in the fourth quarter: 28-for-38 (74 percent) for 303 yards with four TDs, one interception and a passer rating of 120.8. Only college teammate Tua Tagovailoa (123.2) is higher.

9. I know it was only one game, but if Linval Joseph can play like he did on Sunday in Indy, the Eagles need to consider bringing him back for another year. He was very tough, very physical, very steady, very dominant, and presumably he will come cheap. I think Ndamukong Suh might call it a career after this season or at least wait until the middle of the year again. But Joseph is nearly two years younger, hasn’t made as much money as Suh, and along with TJ Edwards was one of the Eagles’ best Sunday outfielders. If Howie can make the numbers work, I’d love to see him again here.

10. Robert Quinn, on the other hand, is Yikes. Quinn has now played four games since the Eagles acquired him from the Bears and hasn’t done anything. He has two tackles and no pressure to appear for 59 shots. Pro Football Focus has rated him at 40.5 since joining the Eagles, which puts him 184th among the 195 running backs this year. This is the guy who had 18 sacks and made the Pro Bowl last year, and the Eagles waived their fourth-round pick. Maybe it will suddenly click, but so far this seems like one of Rosman’s rare moves that didn’t work.

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