Roob's Observations

In Roob's Eagles Observations: The real issue with Jalen Hurts isn't leadership

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The real issue with Jalen Hurts, a remarkable stat from the 2017 Super Bowl run and the future of one of the greatest Eagles of all-time.

We’re 24 days out from training camp, and it’s time for this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations.

1. Leadership isn’t the problem with Jalen Hurts. Nobody was complaining about leadership when he won five of his last six starts in 2021 or when he went 14-1 with a couple postseason wins in 2022 or when he had the Eagles 10-1 going into December last year. Then the whole thing fell apart and now all of a sudden Hurts isn’t a very good leader. Hurts was a good enough leader to go 29-3 from the middle of 2021 through the middle of 2023. Hurts played lousy down the stretch last year, just like almost everybody else on the team. The problem wasn’t leadership, it was turnovers. If Hurts didn’t commit six turnovers in the Eagles’ last five games they probably would have gone 13-4 and won the division and we wouldn’t be having these conversations. Could Hurts have given a better answer to the question about Nick Sirianni and the offense? Of course. One thing we’ve seen with Hurts since he got here is that he likes to raise more questions than he answers in interviews. He likes being vague, and he likes leaving people guessing. That’s just his personality and it doesn’t win or lose football games. As long as his teammates respect him – which they clearly do – leadership is not an issue. But Hurts finished last year with 19 turnovers, third-most among all NFL quarterbacks last year, seven more than he had in 2022 and most by any Eagles QB since Randall Cunningham had 19 in 1992. Solve that issue and the other issue doesn’t exist. My guess is that playing in a more dynamic and less predictable offense will solve the turnover problem. If you’re uncomfortable with the play calling and unsure what the plan is, you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s what we saw last year. If Hurts cuts his turnovers in half, I guarantee you nobody will be questioning his leadership.

2. From 1983 through 1987, Mike Quick had 5,437 yards, 53 touchdowns and 17.6 yards per catch. The only other players in NFL history with 5,000 yards, 50 TDs and 17 ½ yards per catch in a five-year span are Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Quick was that good until the Vet tore up his knees. Damn Vet.

3A. I wonder if Jason Peters is going to retire this offseason. Or ever. The fact that we’re sitting here in late June and he hasn’t announced anything tells me he’s not thinking that way. Peters turned 42 in January and if he does play in 2024 he’s sure not going to waste his time in a training camp, but I figure he’ll sign in the middle of the season with a team that has an emergency need for a tackle – or guard. J.P. got into eight games with two starts at 41 years old last year with the Seahawks, his third team since leaving the Eagles after the 2020 season. He's now played 20 seasons since the Bills signed him as an undrafted tight end out of Arkansas in 2004, and last year he became only the sixth non-quarterback in NFL history to start a game at 41 or older and the first offensive tackle. The oldest non-QB starter ever was Ray Brown, who was 43 years, 33 days old when he started a playoff game for Washington against the Seahawks on Jan. 14, 2006. What’s funny is that Peters was in his eighth season when Jason Kelce was a rookie. That’s how long he’s been doing it. If Peters doesn’t play again, he’d be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2029. My gut feeling? He will play again. Canton is just going to have to wait.

3B. The oldest player to start a game for the Eagles? It’s Peters, who was 38 years, 319 days, when he started against the Packers at Lambeau on Dec. 6, 2020. The only other Eagle to start a game at 38 or older was Hall of Famer Art Monk, who was 38 years, 19 days, when he made his only start in an Eagles uniform – Dec. 24, 1995, vs. the Bears at Soldier Field. 

3C. Peters is the oldest non-quarterback to start a game for the Eagles, Bears, Cowboys and Seahawks.

4B. One of the unsung stats from the 2017 postseason is that the Eagles only allowed two sacks in their wins over the Falcons, Vikings and Patriots. Nick Foles threw 106 passes – and Trey Burton threw one – and Foles was only sacked once against the Falcons – Takkarist McKinley got him in the first quarter – and once vs. the Vikings – by Danielle Hunter in the second quarter. The only other QBs to throw at least 100 passes in a postseason and get sacked twice or less are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. That was with Big V at left tackle, Stefen Wisniewski at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Brandon Brooks at right guard and Lane Johnson at right tackle. Amazing.

4B. In the second half of those three postseason wins, Foles was 38-for-47 for 447 yards with four TDs, no INTs, no sacks and a 134.7 passer rating. He threw nine incomplete passes after halftime the entire postseason. Legend.

5. From Week 4 of the 2017 season – a win over Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen and the Chargers at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. – through Week 8 of the 2018 season – the win over the Jaguars in London - Carson Wentz threw 42 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The only other quarterbacks in NFL history with 42 or more TDs  and eight or fewer interceptions in a 16-game span are Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. 

6. The Eagles haven’t had consecutive losing seasons under the same head coach since 1997 and 1998 under Ray Rhodes. The only team that’s gone longer without back-to-back losing seasons under the same coach is the Colts under Ron Meyer in 1990 and 1991. 

7. If Saquon Barkley rushes for 1,000 yards this year and makes the Pro Bowl, the Eagles will become the first team in NFL history to have a different 1,000-yard Pro Bowl running back three years in a row. Yeah, I looked it up. Miles Sanders rushed for 1,269 yards and made his first and only Pro Bowl in 2022 and D’Andre Swift ran for 1,049 yards and made his first Pro Bowl last year. The only team with three different Pro Bowl running backs in three years was the Ravens with Willis McGahee in 2007, Le’Ron McClain in 2008 and Ray Rice in 2009. But McClain only had 902 rushing yards in 2008.  

8. I never thought Jason Kelce would be in the news more after he retired than during his brilliant 13-year career. But here we are. Jason Kelce drinks a beer!!! Jason Kelce goes to a Taylor Swift concert!!! Jason Kelce signs an autograph for a fan!!! You can’t escape Kelcemania!!! 

9. The first player in Eagles history with a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown in the same game was Swede Ellstrom, a back from Waynesburg, Pa. In a 64-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds at the old Temple Stadium in West Oak Lane – the last game the Reds ever played – Ellstrom ran for a touchdown in the first quarter (newspaper accounts of the game don’t say how long it was) and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Joe Carter in the second quarter. They were the only touchdowns – rushing or passing – of his 15-game NFL career. 

10A. Heath Sherman, a running back with the Eagles from 1989 through 1993, holds a unique distinction in NFL history. In 1991, he averaged 2.6 yards on 106 carries – the lowest average in the league (by far). In 1992, he averaged 5.2 yards on 112 carries – the highest average in the league (by far). Sherman is the only player in NFL history to finish last in rushing one year and lead the league the next year. His 2.6 yards per carry improvement is the largest in NFL history. And he’s only the third player in history to have a season with a 2.6 average at any point in his career and a season at 5.2 – minimum of 100 carries – at any point in their career. The last one before Sherman was Abner Haynes, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry as a rookie with the Dallas Texans in 1960 and 2.4 yards per carry with the Broncos in 1966. The only other player with that distinction is Eddie Price of the Giants – 5.6 as a rookie in 1950 and 2.0 in 1953. Sherman’s 5.2 average in 1992 is 5th-highest in Eagles history by a running back (behind Miles Sanders’ 5.5 in 2021, Timmy Brown’s 5.4 in 1965, Charlie Garner’s 5.4 in 1995 and Sanders’ 5.3 in 2020), and his 2.6 in 1991 is 2nd-worst (ahead of only Lee Bouggess’s 2.5 average in 1970).

10B. Speaking of Brown … He had 3,862 career rushing yards, 3,339 receiving yards, 57 touchdowns and made three Pro Bowls for the Eagles. He was also a 27th-round pick. His 7,261 career scrimmage yards are 1,403 more than every other 27th-round pick combined.

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