A glimpse into Nolan Smith’s personality, thoughts about Nakobe Dean’s preseason playing time and the world’s greatest Terrell Owens stat.
Here’s a fresh batch of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations as we get ready for the first preseason game of the summer.
1. I loved this exchange after practice Thursday with Nolan Smith. First he was asked where his confidence comes from, and he answered: “Coach (Kirby) Smart just telling you, ‘If you're not getting better, you're getting worse, and somebody out there is getting better.’ And I always think of that. Every day I wake up at 7 o'clock, man, them boys at Georgia already working. They’ve been lifting for 30 minutes. I might as well go ahead and get some treatment on my body or even just look at my film, look at my plays. You know, I ain't gonna lie, certain nights you can't sleep. I just sit up and watch film. That's what coach Smart says: Certain nights you just think about all the bad plays you make on your day off and you’re just sitting there watching and I understand what he means now.” That’s when I followed up and asked what’s the latest he’s stayed up watching film: “Oh man, Sweaty (Josh Sweat) got mad at me because the day off I took a nap and then woke up and watched film and then I took a 30-second break to follow him on Twitter. He said, ‘What are you doing up at 3 o'clock in the morning?’ I'm just watching film, man. I ain't got nothing else to do. I might as well just sit in the hotel and watch film.” Can’t wait to see this kid play.
2. We don’t know what Nick Sirianni’s plans are for the starters Saturday night in Baltimore and the rest of the preseason, but I really hope he’s planning on getting middle linebacker Nakobe Dean significant playing time because he needs it. That’s not a knock on Dean, just the fact that this is a projected starter who’s played 34 defensive snaps in the NFL, just missed 3 ½ days of practice with an ankle injury and is going to be heavily counted on as a force in the middle of that defense not to mention a mental force with the green dot helmet. Maybe Dean can just show up on opening day in Foxboro and run the show, but I don’t think of him as a normal starter since he’s played so little. Cam Jurgens falls into that category as well. I get not playing the returning starters, but those young guys need the work. And I don’t want to hear about the ankle as a reason not to play him. He was a full participant at practice on Thursday and said the ankle is fine. He needs to play.
3. Matt Stafford and Jared Goff – who were traded for each other after the 2020 season - are the only NFC quarterbacks with more career postseason wins than Jalen Hurts. Stafford is 4-3 with a Super Bowl win, Goff is 3-3 with a Super Bowl loss, and the only other NFC QBs with any postseason wins are Dak Prescott (two), Brock Purdy (two), Marcus Mariota (one), Kirk Cousins (one), Baker Mayfield (one) and Daniel Jones (one). Current AFC quarterbacks have 50 career postseason wins. Current NFC quarterbacks have 17.
4. Here’s an idea of what's possible with a healthy Rashaad Penny: The last five games of 2021, Penny ran 92 times for 671 yards with six TDs. That’s 134 yards per game and 7.3 yards per carry. Only two other players in the last 50 years have had 671 rushing yards and a 7.3 average in any five-game span: Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson.
5. How crazy is it that Terrell Owens played in only 21 games as an Eagle, but over the last 30 years only three Eagles WRs have more touchdown catches? T.O. had 20 touchdown catches in his 21 games in an Eagles uniform – 14 in 14 games in 2004 and six in seven games in 2005. The only Eagles WRs with more over the last three decades are Jeremy Maclin with 36, DeSean Jackson with 35 and Jordan Matthews with 21.
6. Myles Jack has started 95 games and Zach Cunningham has started 76. If both make the final 53-man roster, this will be the first time the Eagles have two linebackers on the opening-day roster with at least 75 career starts since 1994. Bill Romanowski had 76 career starts going into 1994 and Byron Evans had 81. They came close in 1997, when William Thomas went into the season with 83 career starts and Jeff Herrod had 116. But Herrod signed two days after the season opener vs. the Giants so wasn’t on the opening-day roster.
7. As usual, Howie Roseman has been awfully active since training camp began, and one of his under-the-radar moves was signing undrafted rookie wide receiver Johnny King, who had just been released by the Colts. King played at Football Championship Subdivision Southeast Missouri State, where he had 729 receiving yards as a senior. So not exactly an elite prospect. But he’s 6-5 and he came in on Wednesday at the Linc in his first practice in an Eagles uniform and caught the ball well, snagged a touchdown pass from Tanner McKee and a 15-yarder earlier in the drive and showed an ability to use his big frame to carve out space in traffic. I don’t know if King will ever play for the Eagles or in the NFL. The odds are stacked against him or any undrafted WR. But you have to love Howie’s approach of using every possible avenue to improve the roster. Maybe King sticks on the practice squad. Probably we never see him again. Maybe one day he gets a shot to play. You never know. But he’s an interesting prospect – 23 years old, great size, seems to have good hands and clearly smart enough to pick up the offense in a hurry. You never know. But the one thing you can count on with Howie is that he’ll never sit still. He’s always trying to upgrade the roster.
8. Dallas Goedert’s career mark of 8.8 yards per target is 4th-highest among tight ends since the NFL began tracking targets in 1992 (minimum 200 catches). He trails only Rob Gronkowski (9.7), George Kittle (9.6) and Travis Kelce (9.0). The only Eagle higher than Goedert is DeSean Jackson at 9.5. Goedert’s 10.2 mark last year is 2nd-highest on record by a tight end behind Antonio Gates’ 12.0 in 2010.
9. If you weren’t following the Eagles in the 1980s, a training camp tradition was the annual Mike Quick holdout. Quick skipped training camp in West Chester every summer in an endless series of contract impasses that always miraculously got resolved as soon as the team broke camp. The goal wasn’t really so much getting a new contract – although he occasionally did – but just avoiding the pounding of six weeks of two-a-day 2 ½-hour full live practices. Playing his whole career at the Vet did enough damage to Quick’s knees. He knew it was more important to get to opening day healthy then get beat up for six hours a day all summer. Watching an hour-long practice Thursday, Quick observed that he was really a trailblazer. The whole goal of training camp these days is to keep guys off their feet, keep practices short with minimal contact and get everybody to the starting line as healthy as possible. Quick was doing that 35 years ago.
10. With the Ravens looking to extend their (stupid) NFL-record 23-game preseason winning streak Saturday night, I started wondering about the Eagles' record for consecutive preseason wins. They won their last five (of seven) preseason games in 1954 and all six in 1955. The streak included wins over the Bears in Little Rock, Arkansas, over the Packers in Charleston, West Virginia, the Rams in Denver, the Colts in Hershey and also in Louisville, the Lions in Miami and the Steelers in Minneapolis. It ended in the 1956 preseason opener — a 24-13 loss to the Colts in Hershey. Now you know.