Roob's Observations

In Roob's Observations: Why DeVonta Smith has a monster year in him

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Why DeVonta Smith has a monster year inside him waiting to come out, what the Eagles’ head coach said after the Eagles lost to the Giants by 52 points in 1972 and how the Eagles' interior line snaps might be distributed in 2024.

We’re in the dog days of the offseason, during the endless lull between spring workouts and training camp. But there are never dog days for 10 Obs. So here’s our latest batch of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations.

1. It’s easy to look at DeVonta Smith as WR2, and when you’re playing alongside A.J. Brown that’s bound to happen. Brown happens to be one of the two or three best wide receivers in the league and that’s not going to change. But I do think Smith has a breakthrough season in him, even playing alongside Brown, and there are analytics that support that notion. Smith last year averaged 9.5 yards per target, 10th-highest of 35 wide receivers targeted at least 100 times and a bit higher than Brown’s 9.2. He also had a catch percentage of 72.3 percent, which means he caught 72.3 percent of his targets. That’s the highest on record by an Eagles WR – and that goes back to 1994 – and was 6th-highest last year of those 35 receivers with at least 100 targets – and again higher than Brown’s 67.1. The only other WRs at 9.0 yards per target and 72 percent catch percentage in 2023 were Rashee Rice, CeeDee Lamb, Nico Collins and Amon-Ra St. Brown. And of that group, only Smith and Collins averaged over 13 yards per catch. Brown had 46 more targets than Smith (and played in one more regular-season game), and while nobody wants to see his targets go down, if Smith’s targets increased just 10 percent and his production remains the same, you’re looking at about 1,250 yards. Smith has averaged 1,059 yards his first three seasons, but no doubt in my mind he’s capable of a lot more without taking away from Brown’s production. The numbers and stats don’t even begin to tell the story of how dang good Smith really is. I expect the passing game to improve significantly under Kellen Moore and Doug Nussmeier in 2024, and Smith should be a big beneficiary of that.

2. Thirty percent of the Eagles’ home wins in franchise history have come at the Linc.

3. In November 1972 at Yankee Stadium, the Giants handed the Eagles their worst loss since the first game in franchise history – 62-10 at Yankee Stadium in November of 1972. With the Giants leading 48-10 in the middle of the fourth quarter, backup QB Randy Johnson threw a late 63-yard TD pass to Don Herrmann and then ran for another touchdown to make it 62-10. Webster was so mad at Johnson for the final two TDs he chewed him out on the sideline. After the game, Webster and Johnson both apologized to Khayat for the late touchdowns. Responded Khayat: “It’s all right. My guys quit.” Khayat and GM Pete Retzlaff were both fired a month later.

4. Since 2001 under offensive line coaches Juan Castillo, Howard Mudd and Jeff Stoutland, the Eagles have had at least one Pro Bowl offensive lineman after 19 of 23 seasons – all but 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2012. From 1969 through 2000 they had at least one Pro Bowl offensive lineman in three of 32 seasons. 

5A. The Eagles have scored 14, 16, 14, 15 and 9 points in their last five road playoff games, and their only road playoff win in the last 15 years was the Double Doink in Chicago in a 2018 wild-card game. Last time they scored more than 16 points in a road postseason game was the 32-25 loss to the Cards in the 2008 NFC Championship Game in Glendale. (Remember, Super Bowl LVII was a neutral-site game, not a road game). 

5B. The Eagles have failed to rush for 100 yards as a team in eight straight road playoff games, averaging 63.4 rushing yards since gaining 123 in the 2006 conference semifinal loss in New Orleans. 

5C. In 22 all-time road playoff games, the Eagles have only had three 100-yard rushers – Steve Van Buren with 196 vs. the Rams in the 1949 NFL Championship Game at L.A. Coliseum, Heath Sherman with 105 vs. the Saints in the 1992 wild-card win at the Superdome and Brian Westbrook with 116 in the 2006 wild-card loss to the Saints, also at the Superdome.

5D. In their 22 all-time road playoff games, the Eagles have scored more than 19 offensive points only seven times.

5E. The Eagles have never scored four offensive touchdowns in a road playoff game. They’ve done it at home or neutral sites seven times, including three straight vs. the Giants, 49ers and Chiefs in 2022. 

5F. The Eagles are one of only nine teams in NFL history to score four touchdowns in three consecutive games in a single postseason

6. Curious how the interior line snaps will line up in 2024 without Fletcher Cox in the mix. Cox played 684 snaps last year – 15th-most among all NFL interior linemen – and he did that in just 15 games. That was the most snaps played by any NFL interior lineman 33 or older in six years, since 34-year-old Kyle Williams played 756 in 2017. That’s nearly 50 snaps per game the Eagles will have to make up without adding anybody. Jalen Carter played 35 snaps per game last year, Jordan Davis and Milton Williams 31 each and Marlon Tuipulotu and other miscellaneous guys about 19 per game. Even if the Eagles bump Carter, Davis and Williams up, say, 12 snaps per game, that still leaves about 14 snaps per game they’ll have to make up. I’m not sure how much of an increased workload Tuipulotu can handle, and we don’t know how Carter and Davis – and Williams to a lesser extent – will handle increased snaps. I imagine Howie Roseman will keep his eyes open for a Ndamukong Suh or Linval Joseph type of veteran who can gobble up 12 or 15 snaps per game. I'm just not sure the Eagles have the bodies to get through a season otherwise.

7. In their 91-year history, the Eagles have only had one instance where they allowed 12 or fewer points in a four-game stretch. That stretch was the first four games in franchise history that the Eagles didn’t lose. The Eagles began their existence in 1933 with three straight losses where they were outscored 116-9. Their next four games were a 6-0 win over the Reds at Redland Field in Cincinnati and then three straight games at the Baker Bowl - a 3-3 tie vs. the Bears, a 25-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates and a 20-3 win over the Reds. Four games, 12 points allowed. Two months into the franchise’s history. The closest they’ve come to allowing 12 points in four games since came in the 1948 NFL Championship season, when they allowed 14 points in wins over the Giants, Washington, Bears and Steelers. The Eagles finished the 1933 season 3-5-1. They’re the only NFL team in the last 94 years to allow 12 or fewer points in a four-game span 

8. In five NFL seasons, Jalen Hurts has had 13 play callers, position coaches, passing game coordinators, offensive coordinators, offensive head coaches, senior offensive assistants or offensive consultants: Doug Pederson, Press Taylor, Marty Mornhinweg, Rich Scangarello, Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen, Jim Bob Cooter, Kevin Patullo, Alex Tanney, Brian Johnson, Marcus Brady, Kellen Moore and Doug Nussmeier.

9. Bryce Brown averaged 174 rushing yards per game and 8.1 yards per carry with four TDs in his first two NFL starts. He averaged 15 yards per game and 1.7 yards per carry with no TDs in his five other career starts. 

10. The Eagles in 2023 became only the eighth team ever to lose three games over the last four weeks of a season when they were favored by at least three points – and the first in 17 years. The Eagles were favored by three over the Seahawks (20-17 loss), by 12 over the Cards (35-31 loss) and by 4 ½ over the Giants (27-10 loss). According to Stathead, which tracks point spreads back to 1952, the last team with three such losses was the 2006 Cowboys.  

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