Roob's 10 Observations: Jalen Carter could do something no Eagle has done in 63 years

Roob's 10 Observations: Jalen Carter could do something no Eagle has done in 63 years originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

A rare achievement that Jalen Carter has a shot at, an under-rated play by Fletcher Cox and a new starter that I’m really not concerned about.

The banged-up Eagles face the Vikings Thursday night in their home opener at the Linc. Here’s our 10 Random Eagles Observations to take you up to kickoff at 8:15 p.m.

1. It’s hard to think of an NFL debut by an Eagle as impressive as Jalen Carter’s. Charlie Garner rushed for 111 yards and two TDs against the 49ers in his first game in 1994. DeSean Jackson had 106 yards against the Rams in his NFL debut in 2008 and DeVonta Smith had 71 yards and a TD in the 2021 opener in Atlanta. Carson Wentz threw for 278 yards and two TD passes in his first game against the Browns in 2016. And Brenard Wilson had a 50-yard interception return off Joe Pisarcik in his NFL debut against the Giants in 1979. But Carter is right up there, with a ridiculous seven hurries – most in the NFL in Week 1 - and a sack in the Eagles’ win over the Patriots. Carter played 35 snaps and 29 were pass plays, so he had a pressure on nearly a quarter of his opportunities. That's absurd. Carter looked like a star out there, and if he can keep playing at that level – and I don’t know why he can’t – he won’t just be the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, he’ll be a Pro Bowler. Which raises an interesting question: Who’s the last Eagles rookie to make a Pro Bowl? The answer is Cody Parkey in 2014, but as far as position players you have to go back to Keith Jackson in 1988, when he set a rookie tight ends record (that still stands) with 81 catches. Before that you have to go back to 1973 and another tight end, Charle Young, whose 854 yards in 1971 are still 5th-most ever by a rookie tight end. The last (and only) Eagles defensive rookie to make a Pro Bowl? Would you believe linebacker Maxie Baughan in 1960? Baughan was a starter on the 1960 NFL Championship team and made the first of his nine Pro Bowls. It’s a travesty he’s not in the Hall of Fame, but that’s another story. So it’s been 63 years since an Eagles defensive rookie made a Pro Bowl team, and I’m sure as heck not betting against Carter to end that streak.

2. Sydney Brown at safety. Not soon. Not later. Now.

3. One of my favorite plays Sunday came early in the second quarter, when Josh Jobe made a big hit on Patriots punt returner Marcus Jones for no gain along the Eagles’ sideline. Jobe was just about to get in Jones’ face to celebrate the hit and most likely get a 15-yard taunting penalty when Fletcher Cox – who was on the sideline watching – raced over and got between Jobe and Jones and pushed Jobe out of harm’s way. We’ve talked a lot about Cox’s leadership in the later years of his career, but that’s leadership in action. It’s not always about rah-rah speeches. Cox played very well and at 32 and in his 12th season led all Eagles defensive tackles with 50 snaps. Jalen Carter was brilliant, Jordan Davis played his best game yet and Milton Williams was very good as well. But Cox had one of his best games in a long time. On the Patriots’ long 4th-quarter drive inside the Eagles’ 20, Cox stuffed Ezekiel Elliott for no gain on 3rd-and-3 and on the next snap along with Haason Reddick pressured Mac Jones into a 4th-down throwaway. But one of the best plays Cox made all day came when he wasn’t even in the game.

4. Zack Cunningham? Yeah, I’m concerned about him. Terrell Edmunds? Yep, concerned about him, too. Christian Ellis? I think he’ll develop into a decent player but I’m not sure he’s ready for what he’s going to face Thursday night. Josh Jobe starting in place of James Bradberry? You know what? Not worried at all. Hey, maybe he’ll blow up, but I’ll be surprised if he does. I’ve seen such a high level of production and consistency from Jobe this summer I really think he can handle the first start of his career. Assuming Darius Slay travels with Justin Jefferson – and why wouldn’t he? – Jobe will get a challenge from rookie Jordan Addison, the 1st-round pick from USC (and Pitt), who caught four passes for 61 yards against Tampa Sunday in his first NFL game. But I expect Jobe to play tough. What better way to prepare for your first career start than practicing against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith every day? I love Jobe’s swagger, his physicality, his edge. He’s undrafted but plays the game with the confidence of a 1st-round pick. There’s plenty to be concerned about Thursday night. But I’m not concerned about Jobe.

5. T.J. Edwards is with the Bears, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is with the Lions, Linval Joseph is out of football, Javon Hargrave is with the 49ers, Marcus is a Raider and Bradberry is in concussion protocol. That means the Eagles will have either four defensive starters Thursday night who started in the Super Bowl: Cox, Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick and Darius Slay. Avonte Maddox is a possible starter, if the Vikings open in three wides, but he didn’t start in New England.

6. You gotta love Dallas Goedert’s attitude. After being held without a catch for the first time in 60 games Sunday, all Goedert could talk about was how much fun he had in the Eagles’ 25-20 win over the Patriots: “A win is a win and that is really tough to do in this league, so I’m really happy with the way everyone played. The benefit for me is that I get to be in there for run game and take my frustrations out on the defensive ends and linebackers, so I had a lot of fun playing out there today. It was a great team win for us and a lot of fun. Maybe next week will be my week, and if not, I will just keep chopping away until it comes.” His receiving and blocking ability make him a very good tight end. His team-first attitude makes him a great tight end.

7. One of the reasons the Eagles’ never got into a rhythm Sunday was because nothing was going down the field, so even when Jalen Hurts was completing passes, the Eagles weren’t really moving the ball for the most part. Hurts completed 22 of 33 passes, but seven of those 22 completions – nearly a third – went for four yards or less, 17 were for nine yards or less, only one went longer than 15 yards, none longer than 23. Hurts averaged 7.7 yards per completion, the lowest of his career and lowest by an Eagles QB since Nick Foles averaged 6.2 yards (19 completions, 117 yards) in the 2018 opener in Atlanta. For the sake of comparison, Hurts averaged 11.8 yards per completion last year, 7th-highest in the league among 30 quarterbacks who threw at least 300 passes, so that’s a 35 percent dropoff. Look for the Eagles to really focus on driving the ball vertical Thursday night.

8. Jake Elliott is 5-for-6 on field goal attempts of at least 56 yards in his career for 83 percent. Every other Eagles kicker combined is 2-for-25 on 56-yard attempts for 8 percent. Tony Franklin and David Akers are the only other kickers to make one – Franklin made a 59-yarder in Dallas in 1979, and Akers made a 57-yarder against the Patriots at the Linc in 2003. Both were 1-for-5 from 56 and out. Tom Dempsey was 0-for-5, Alex Henery 0-for-3, Sam Baker 0-for-2 and Luis Zendejas, Happy Feller, Paul McFadden, Gary Anderson and Mark Moseley were each 0-for-1. With his 56-yarder Sunday, Elliott is now responsible for eight of the Eagles’ 13-longest field goals in franchise history – from 54 yards and out. No other Eagles kicker has made more than one from at least 54 yards.

9. With Kenny Gainwell out with a rib injury, I want to see D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny somewhere close to 50-50 in touches. They’re both decent players on their own. So is Gainwell. But a rotation brings out the best in them, makes the offense unpredictable and keeps the defense off balance. That’s one big thing I want to see from Brian Johnson against the Vikings. The element of surprise. Unpredictability. Inventiveness. Creativity. Swift and Penny are so talented. Find ways to get that talent out of them. The best way to do that is a true rotation throughout the game and why not mix Boston Scott in there as well. The more unpredictable you are, the harder you are to stop.

10. Another stat that means nothing but is interesting to me: The Eagles are 18-7 all-time on Thursdays for a .720 winning percentage. The only team with a better Thursday record is the Colts, who are 16-5-1 for .750. Not including the Pottsville Maroons, who were 4-1 on Thursdays. Although regular Thursday games didn’t start until 1990, the Eagles played on Thursdays going back to the 1930s. On Nov. 5, 1936, they lost their first Thursday night game, 6-0, to the Pittsburgh Pirates – the only NFL game ever played at Point Stadium in Johnstown, Pa. That was actually a night game 87 years ago. According to the Nov. 6, 1936, Inquirer, “The Bold Buccaneers subdued the Philadelphia Eagles in a thrill packed performance before more than 8,000 persons under the floodlights of Point Stadium.”