How Nick Sirianni won over his players and more in Roob's Eagles Observations

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How new coach Nick Sirianni won over his players originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Why Nick Sirianni is winning over his players, where Dallas Goedert ranks among NFL tight ends and an NFL record the Eagles set during an otherwise miserable 1998 season.

That and lots more in this weekend’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations!  

1. It's my sense that a good portion of the Eagles fans that didn’t initially like the Nick Sirianni hiring (“Who is this guy?”) and doubled down on their feelings after his initial press conference are coming around. He’s won over a lot of people who didn’t like the hire just by the sheer power of his genuineness and passion and energy. You can see why players love this dude. Pro athletes look for three things from a new coach: Someone who’s honest and shoots them straight, someone who’s authentic and comes across as real and someone who’s passionate and has an obsession with the game. Take away any of those elements and that coach is going to lose the locker room in a hurry. Sirianni clearly has all that. Whether or not he succeeds will ultimately depend on the Eagles’ talent level, but he really does seem to have won over a team that was in shambles by the end of last year, and that’s a heck of a start.

2. With 338 passing yards against the Cards and 342 against the Cowboys, Jalen Hurts last year became the 2nd-youngest QB in NFL history with consecutive games with at least 330 passing yards. He was 22 years and 142 days old when he faced the Cowboys. The only younger player with back-to-back 330-yard games is Cam Newton, who was 12 days younger when he did it in 2011.

3. Somebody asked if I think Dallas Goedert can be a top-5 tight end this year. He already is. Goedert - like everybody on the Eagles' roster - got banged up last year and missed five games. But when he did play he averaged 4 catches for 48 yards per game, and the only other TEs in the NFL last year to put up those numbers were Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews. Pretty good company. Factor in Goedert’s elite blocking - he’s one of the best in the league - and I don’t think there’s any question he’s already a top-5 tight end. Assuming Zach Ertz isn’t here in 2021, I see Goedert in the 75-catch range this season.

4. Not counting the 1987 strike games played with replacement players, the Eagles have only had consecutive losing seasons three times in the last 35 years: 1997 and 1998, 1998 and 1999 and 2015 and 2016. So the only time they’ve had consecutive losing seasons under the same coach since 1985 was Ray Rhodes’ last two years.

5. There’s only been one touchdown pass of 60 yards or more in NFL history thrown by a player 25 or younger and caught by a receiver 36 or older. It was Dec. 3, 1998, Rams at the Eagles at the Vet, and with the Eagles up 10-6, 25-year-old Koy Detmer connected with 36-year-old Irving Fryar on a 61-yard TD in a game the Eagles wound up winning 17-14. It was their only win over the last two months of the season and the last win of Rhodes’ Eagles coaching career.

6. Sirianni mentioned in his presser Friday that he and his staff are figuring out what shape training camp will take in terms of padded practices, joint practices and live periods. One thing he made clear is that the Eagles will pad up as much as the CBA allows – “That’s how the game is played” - but tackling to the ground will be limited: “I do believe in that for different reasons, that we don't go live to the ground. Here and there we will, but not overly done.” That probably means occasional live goal-line and short-yardage drills but that’s it. Which is pretty much the way of the NFL these days. You just can’t afford the risk of going live more than a period or two here and there. I do like that Sirianni is considering joint practices. There’s so much value in breaking up camp by working against players from different teams for a few days. The candidates would be the Steelers, Patriots and Jets, the Eagles’ three preseason opponents.

7. Prediction: Josh Sweat leads the Eagles with 10 1/2 sacks this year.

8. Doug Pederson coached 86 games with the Eagles. Only five times did a running back have 20 carries (Josh Adams twice, Miles Sanders twice, Jordan Howard once). 

9. Buddy Ryan hated small, quick running backs who couldn’t pick up a blitzing linebacker. Hated 'em. Ever notice that every running back on the Eagles during the Buddy years was a big, slow-ish blocking type back? Keith Byars, Anthony Toney, Heath Sherman and Michael Haddix were the only RBs with at least 100 carries during Buddy’s five years coaching the Eagles. Whenever the front office brought in a smaller, quicker back –Mark Higgs, Robert Drummond, Thomas Sanders, Robert Lavette – Buddy buried him on the bench. We’d always ask Buddy why. I’ll never forget his answer to one of those questions: “Aww, you guys like them itty bitty backs, come out of the backfield, run around, look pretty, get killed. Heh heh heh.”

10. I’d like to see the Eagles re-sign Richard Rodgers, who’s been on the street since the start of free agency. Rodgers gave the Eagles a nice down-field dimension during Ertz’s five-game injury layoff last year, catching 15 passes for 246 yards in those five games. During that five-week span, Rodgers had the 4th-most yards in the NFL of any tight end and had 11 catches of at least 10 yards, 3rd-most of any NFL tight end. Rodgers last season actually had more 10-yard catches (15) than Ertz (11) despite fewer than half as many targets (72 to 31). Rodgers’ 14.4 per-catch average was highest in the NFL last year among TEs with at least 24 catches. If Ertz isn’t here, the Eagles don’t have a TE2 right now. Rodgers isn't much of a blocker, but I like what the 28-year-old Rodgers gives you in the passing game.

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