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In Roob's Observations, a lot to like about the Eagles' mentality originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
It’s a wild-card weekend edition of Roob’s Random Eagles Observations.
1. I've been really impressed by the Eagles’ mentality this week. There’s no sense of, “We’re just happy to be here.” There’s no sense of, “We’re playing with house money.” This team has gone about its business this week and really during this whole second-half run with the demeanor of a team that believes it belongs here. That believes it can play with anybody. That believes it can win the Super Bowl. The rest of the world might see them as some sort of fluky longshot that got hot late in the season against a bunch of bad teams and scrounged up a No. 7 seed. But inside that locker room, they believe they belong here. That’s a reflection of a rookie head coach who's instilled a tremendous amount of confidence in this team and a 23-year-old quarterback who carries himself with the poise and maturity of a 10-year veteran. They’re certainly acting like they’ve been here before, and in the playoffs that’s huge. If you’re just happy to be here, you're happy to lose.
2. There’ve been 55 NFL teams with 29 or fewer sacks and 16 or fewer takeaways in a season (since sacks became an official stat in 1982). The Eagles are only the second of those 55 teams to reach the playoffs. To finish the season with the No. 10 defense in the NFL despite no real playmakers other than Darius Slay, Javon Hargrave the first half of the season and Josh Sweat the second half just tells you how good this defense will be when (if?) some reinforcements arrive in the draft.
3. Jalen Reagor was targeted 57 times this year and had one catch of 25 yards or more and two TDs. Greg Ward was targeted 11 times this year and had one catch of 25 yards or more and three touchdowns. More Ward. Less Reagor.
4. The last Eagle to catch a postseason touchdown pass was Jordan Matthews.
5. Only one player in Eagles history has had a sack and an interception in a playoff game, and if you know who it is you are the king of Eagles trivia. It wasn’t Dawk, it wasn’t Willie T., it wasn’t Seth. In the 2001 conference semifinal win over the Bears at frozen Soldier Field, Rashard Cook sacked Bears QB Jim Miller in the first quarter and then in the fourth quarter -- after Hugh Douglas had knocked Miller out of the game on Damon Moore’s INT return -- Cook picked off Shane Matthews. Cook -- who had been drafted by the Bears two years earlier in the sixth round -- had three career sacks and two INTs in 47 regular-season games.
6. All of a sudden you look up and realize you’re writing Jason Kelce’s name alongside Steve Van Buren, Chuck Bednarik, Reggie White and Brian Dawkins, and it hits you that this guitar-playing, fun-loving, t-shirt-wearing, beer-swigging dude from Cleveland is one day going to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of the greatest stories ever. Kelce has gradually gone from a success story as a late-round pick to a really solid center to a Super Bowl hero to one of the greatest players in Eagles history, and it’s been incredible to watch it unfold. Think about it. Of all the hundreds upon hundreds of players who’ve played center in the NFL, Kelce is only the ninth to be named First-Team All-Pro four times. The first eight are in the Hall of Fame. Kelce is such a good dude -- funny, personable, humble, down-to-Earth -- that it only adds to the legend. He’s the dude sitting next to you at the corner bar, and at the same time he’s one of the greatest football players ever, and there’s literally never been anybody like him.
7. If the Eagles win Sunday, Jalen Hurts will be the 8th-youngest quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game and the thirrd-youngest to win one on the road. Hurts will be 23 and 162 days old on Sunday. Here’s a look at the seven younger QBs who’ve won at least one playoff game with their age (from their first win if they won more than one), courtesy of Stathead:
-- 22 years, 192 days: Michael Vick, Falcons, 2002, at Green Bay [27-7]
-- 22 years, 231 days: Shaun King, Buccaneers, 1999, vs. Washington [14-13]
-- 22 years, 319 days: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, 2004, vs. Jets [20-17]
-- 23 years, 39 days: Bernie Kosar, Browns, 1986, vs. Jets [23-20]
-- 23 years, 59 days: Mark Sanchez, Jets, 2009, at Bengals [24-14]
-- 23 years, 105 days: Dan Marino, Dolphins, 1984, vs. Seahawks [31-10]
-- 23 years, 117 days: Pat Mahomes, Chiefs, 2018, vs. Colts [31-13]
So Vick and Sanchez -- two former Eagles -- are the only quarterbacks younger than Hurts to win a road playoff game.
8. Tom Brady is the undisputed GOAT, but the crazy thing about Brady is that he doesn’t have a rocket-launcher arm and he’s so smart and so quick to get rid of the ball and so decisive and sees the field so well that he really doesn’t need one. Brady has played 45 postseason games in his career and won 34 of them -- including seven Super Bowls -- but get this: In those 45 games, he’s only thrown FOUR touchdowns of at least 40 yards. Or the same number as Jake Delhomme threw in eight career playoff appearances. And get this: Brady has thrown ONE postseason touchdown of 40 yards or more in his last 35 playoff games dating back to 2005 and NONE in his last 25 playoff games dating back to 2011. Heck, Joe Webb and Julian Edelman have thrown 40-yard postseason TDs more recently than Brady. Nick Foles threw two in one game -- the 2017 NFC Championship Game. This isn’t a knock on Brady at all. Really, it’s an appreciation of him. Because it shows how insanely efficient he is essentially dinking and dunking up and down the field.
9. Turnover ratio is huge in any NFL game but in particular in the postseason against good teams. The Eagles were an awful takeaway team this year. They ranked 26th with just 16 takeaways, the 2nd-fewest in franchise history (the 2012 team had 13). They had zero or one takeaway in 14 of 17 games. But when they had at least one, they were 7-4. When they had none they were 2-4. When they were plus-1 or better in turnover margin, they were 6-1. When they were plus-0 or worse they were 3-7. The Bucs were 6th-best at plus-10 in turnover ratio for the year and 5th in takeaways with 29. The Eagles probably need to be at least plus-two Sunday to get out of Tampa with a win.
10. This is crazy considering the franchise has been around for 89 years, but the Eagles have been in the playoffs more since Andy Reid became their head coach than before he became their head coach. Obviously there are more rounds now than in the early years of the NFL, but still … 14 of the Eagles’ 23 postseason wins have been since 2000.