Why isn’t Nick Sirianni a Coach of the Year candidate, an incredible Jason Kelce-Brandon Graham-Fletcher Cox-David Akers stat and where Cam Jurgens will make the biggest difference.
We have a loaded 10 Random Eagles Observations this week, starting out with my long-winded rant about the Coach of the Year award.
1. Nick Sirianni won’t be Coach of the Year this year. He has no chance. And it’s ridiculous because the only reason he’s not a candidate is because he wins too much. Why is Dan Campbell the top candidate for Coach of the Year? Because his first team went 3-13 two years ago and the Lions will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Why is DeMeco Ryans a top candidate? Because he took over a team that went 3-13 last year and is now in the playoff mix at 5-4. Why is Kevin O’Connell a top candidate? He’s won a couple games with a backup quarterback. To be considered for Coach of the Year, you have to overcome something or bounce back from a bad year, and that kind of misses the point that the coach who does the best job might simply be the coach with the best team. Andy Reid hasn’t won a Coach of the Year since 2002, when the Eagles found their way to the No. 1 seed in the NFC with A.J. Feeley starting five games (and winning four). Since then, Big Red has been to four Super Bowls, won two of them, won 18 playoff games and averaged nearly 11 wins per season. He just wins too consistently. On Monday night, the two best teams in the league meet at Arrowhead Stadium and the NFL’s two winningest coaches of the last three years will be on the sidelines and neither has a shot at winning Coach of the Year. If Sirianni was ever going to win it, it would have been 2021, his first year, when he took over a team in shambles that had gone 4-11-1 in 2020 and didn’t have a quarterback and then went 9-8 and reached the playoffs in his first season. But that’s not what the voters are looking for. Brian Daboll was named Coach of the Year last year for going 9-7-1 and getting clobbered by the Eagles in the playoffs. Did he do a better job coaching than the guy who beat him 48-22, 22-16 and 38-7? Of course not. But Sirianni finished a distant fourth in the voting. The only chance Sirianni has at ever winning a Coach of the Year is if one of his teams goes something like 5-12 and then they bounce back and go 12-5 the next year. That’s what Coach of the Year has become. The last Coach of the Year to win a Super Bowl was Bill Belichick in 2003. The last to even reach a Super Bowl was Ron Rivera in 2015. It’s like Comeback Coach of the Year. Sirianni is 31-12 in his three years with the Eagles with three playoff teams and one Super Bowl appearance so far, and he’s not even in the conversation. The only guy who’s won more games than Sirianni since 2021 is Reid, and he’s not in the mix either. It makes no sense, but the reality is Sirianni wins too much to ever be Coach of the Year.
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2. The last Eagles cornerback with two interceptions in the same month was Rasul Douglas in December of 2018. Douglas picked off Dak Prescott in Dallas on Dec. 9 and then picked off Josh Johnson in Washington on Dec. 30.
3. David Akers has played in more games than anybody else in Eagles history – 188 from 1999 through 2010. On Monday night, Brandon Graham will tie Akers by playing in his 188th game. What’s crazy is that Jason Kelce is only two back of B.G. at 185, and Fletcher Cox is just behind Kelce at 181. If they all stay healthy, Graham, Kelce and Cox will finish the season with 195, 193 and 189 games, dropping Akers from first to fourth in the span of eight weeks.
4a. Among quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts, Patrick Mahomes has the highest passer rating ever against the Eagles at 132.6. Philip Rivers is next at 120.2, then Peyton Manning (114.6), Joe Montana (113.7) and Matt Cassel (113.4).
4b. What about who has the lowest all-time passer rating vs. the Eagles? It’s a guy named Jim Hardy, who played for the Rams and Cards in the 1940s and early 1950s. In six games against the Eagles from 1946 through 1950, Hardy completed 30.4 percent of his passes with two TD passes and 14 interceptions for an 8.4 passer rating. Incredibly, eight of those INTs came in one game in 1950 that the Eagles won 45-7 over the Cards at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Russ Craft had four of them — a franchise record — Joe Sutton three and Frank Reagan one that he returned for a TD. Hardy is the only QB in NFL history to throw eight interceptions in a game.
4c. Here’s what Inquirer Eagles writer Frank O’Gara wrote about Hardy’s performance: “They shortstopped so many of Jim Hardy’s aerials that it was conjectural which team the former Southern Cal was pitching to.”
4d. Sutton is a fascinating story. He went to Northeast Catholic and Temple – and served in the army in World War II in between high school and college. He played running back as a rookie in 1949 with the Bills. After the All-America Football Conference folded, the Eagles selected Sutton in the dispersal draft and then he spent the 1950 through 1952 seasons with the Eagles, picking off 13 passes in just 30 games in an Eagles uniform. A few days before the 1953 opener, the Eagles released Sutton. According to a story in the Inquirer by Herb Good, “The news that he was being released on waivers came as quite a shock to the former Northeast Catholic and Temple star but not to regular sideline observers who have seen younger and faster candidates getting firmer grips on the squad with each passing practice.” Sutton was 28. He never played again. He became a car salesman after his playing career and retired in Bradenton, Fla., where he played golf at a course that was walking distance to his home. Sutton died in Bradenton in 2012.
5. Hey, how about that Braden Mann? Seems like the Eagles may have finally found themselves a punter. Mann, who replaced Arryn Siposs in Week 3, got off to a bit of a slow start, and through Week 6, his 41.3 average was dead last in the NFL (just behind Ty Zentner, who competed with Siposs in training camp). But since then, Mann has averaged 54.1 yards a pop, which is 3rd-best in the NFL over the last four weeks. Overall, he’s got a 48.1 average, which would tie the franchise record set in 2018 by Cam Johnston if he keeps up that pace. He’s also got six inside the 20 and just one touchback. It didn’t look too promising those first few games, but the Eagles did the right thing by sticking with Mann, and so far it’s paid off.
6. There are nine head coaches in Eagles history who coached at least three years and have a career winning record. Jeff Lurie hired four of them: Andy Reid (130-93-1, .583), Chip Kelly (26-21, .553), Doug Pederson (42-37-1, .531) and Nick Sirianni (31-12, .721). The five others are Dick Vermeil (54-47, .535), Buddy Ryan (43-35-1, .551), Jim Trimble (25-20-3, .552), Rich Kotite (36-28, .563) and Greasy Neale (63-43-5, .590).
7. Howie Roseman first joined the Eagles as a salary cap intern in 2000. At that point in franchise history, the Eagles had won nine playoff games. Since he was hired, they’ve won 16.
8. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: In the last three games before the bye, Hurts completed 75 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns. He’s the only quarterback in Eagles history to complete 75 percent of his passes with eight TD passes in any three-game span.
9. In four games with Cam Jurgens at right guard, the Eagles averaged 165 rushing yards and 4.7 yards per carry. In four games with Sua Opeta at right guard, they averaged 99 rushing yards and 3.4 yards per carry. In one game with Tyler Steen at right guard they averaged 109 yards per game and 3.3 per carry. Do the math and they averaged 4.7 and 165 with Jurgans and 3.4 and 101 without him. Getting Jurgens back won’t solve the Eagles’ rushing issues, but he’ll make a big difference.
10. The Eagles are the first team to go 8-1 or better without winning a game by more than 14 points since the 2000 Titans.