Who’s going to wear the green dot helmet? How underrated was Correll Buckhalter? And what was the best way to sneak beer into the Vet?
We’re all over the map in this weekend’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations.
We might even share a newspaper account of the first touchdown in Eagles history.
1. The green dot helmet on defense generally goes to the smartest, most experienced and savvy veteran who’s going to be on the field the most. Smart so he can process plays called in from the coach, experienced so he can seamlessly communicate complex concepts to his teammates, on the field the most in the interest of consistency. So who makes the most sense to wear the green dot for the Eagles this year? The youngest guy on the roster. Nakobe Dean, who just turned 21 in December, has dazzled the Eagles’ coaches with his intelligence since the pre-draft process began. He’s already learning both the Mike and Will positions, and if all goes according to plan, his versatility and intelligence — and ability — mean he’s going to play most of the defensive snaps. If Dean does start, he’ll be the Eagles’ youngest defensive starter since safety Joe Scarpati in 1964 — by about three months. Dean still has to prove he can handle the additional responsibility on top of showing he can handle 65 snaps a game. But as it stands now, three months before opening day, Dean has a chance to hold a position of tremendous responsibility and importance several months before his 22nd birthday.
2. Tommy McDonald once had 237 receiving yards in a home game vs. the Giants. Jalen Reagor has 227 yards in all the home games he’s ever played.
3. Isaac Seumalo will either start at right guard this year or get cut. Weird, right? There’s no in between for Seumalo, now entering his seventh year with the Eagles. With Brandon Brooks retired, he’s getting the first crack at right guard after two injury-plagued seasons. With a $5.65 million base salary and a $7.668 million cap figure, Seumalo is the 21st-highest-paid guard in the league, but his cap figure in 2022 is eighth-highest. All of which is fine if he’s starting and playing at a high level. That’s good value. Seumalo is a solid guy when he’s healthy. He’s a better-than-average guard, and there’s no reason to think he can’t handle right guard, where he hasn’t played since 2016. But if he struggles? If he has a tough training camp? If it’s not working out? The Eagles aren’t going to keep him around as a $7.668 million backup. They have decent alternatives, like Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta, who both have cap figures right around $1 million. Cutting Seumalo would clear $5.65 million in cap space while counting about $2.1 million in dead money this year and $3.8 million next year. So he starts or he’s gone.
4. How talented a play caller is Shane Steichen? We don’t know exactly when he took over as full-time play caller last year, but we do know it was somewhere before the Lions game in Week 7. And from that game on, the Eagles ranked seventh in scoring [28 points per game], 10th in yards per play [5.6], eighth in first downs [22 per game], first on 3rd down [49 percent] and even middle of the pack in passing efficiency [89.9 passer rating]. He's pretty darn good at it. Letting Steichen continue calling plays this year makes a ton of sense.
5. From 2001 through 2008, Correll Buckhalter missed three of eight seasons with torn ACLs. In each of the five seasons he did play, he had at least 50 carries and averaged at least 4.2 yards per carry. The only other running backs in Eagles history with five straight seasons at 4.2 yards per carry are LeSean McCoy and Steve Van Buren. Buck’s 4.5 career average remains fifth-highest ever by an Eagles RB. If Buck’s knees hadn’t repeatedly failed him, he would have been one of the best running backs in Eagles history.
6. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Only five quarterbacks in NFL history (minimum 500 attempts) have averaged 12 yards per completion in their career but also averaged one interception every 40 passes or better. They are Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Hurts.
7. Eagles fans used to be so creative sneaking beer into the Vet. The way the ramps were wide open allowed fans who had entered the stadium to set up simply pulley systems and lower buckets or baskets down to fans on ground level who hadn’t entered the stadium yet. The guys outside the stadium stuffed the beer in the bucket, the guys on the ramp pulled the bucket up, the guys outside came into the stadium, and just like that you had snuck a case of beer past security. Brilliant.
8. It was awesome seeing 34-year-old Brandon Graham running around at practice Friday looking fit and healthy. It’s hard to imagine this team without him.
9. DeVonta Smith had 916 receiving yards last year, A.J. Brown had 869 and Dallas Goedert 830. This is the first time ever the Eagles will go into a season with three guys who had at least 825 receiving yards the previous year.
10. Ever wonder who scored the first touchdown in Eagles history? It was Swede Hanson, a Central Jersey native (Middletown, Monmouth County) and former Temple star. Hanson began his NFL career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1931 and spent 1932 with the Staten Island Stapletons, who folded after the season. The expansion Eagles didn’t score in their first two games in 1933, but on Oct. 29, 1933, in the second quarter of a 35-9 loss to the Packers at City Stadium in Green Bay, Hanson scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Red Kirkman. Here’s how the Philadelphia Inquirer saw it the next day in a non-bylined story: “Kirkman faded back and looped a beauty right into the waiting embrace of Hanson. The latter caught the ball on the 15-yard-line, snatching out of the eager paws of two Green Bay men who were covering the Swede. Hanson wheeled and circled about this posse and skipped over the goal line for the first touchdown the Eagles have tallied this season against league foemen.” Hanson spent five years with the Eagles — he was second in the NFL in rushing in 1934 — before finishing his career with the Steelers in 1938. After his football career, he worked as a mechanic at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, just down Broad Street from where the Eagles would play 40 years later. Hanson was only 62 when he died in Philly in 1970.