In Roob's Observations: Can Eagles end years of frustration vs. Cowboys? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
A look at the Eagles’ recent lack of success against the Cowboys, the shocking retirement of Pete Pihos and more A.J. Brown craziness.
It’s a Cowboys Week edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations, and it’s jam-packed with stuff you didn’t know you needed to know.
1. To understand how huge this Eagles-Cowboys game is you have to look at the last decade and just how long it’s been since the Eagles had a signature win over their fiercest rival. First of all, the Eagles are 3-8 in their last 11 games against the Cowboys. Nick Sirianni is 1-3, with the win coming last year at the Linc over backup QB Cooper Rush. The Eagles beat Dallas late in the 2020 season, also at the Linc, but that was against rookie 5th-round pick Ben DiNucci in his only career start. The Eagles did beat the Cowboys late in the 2019 season, Carson Wentz over Dak Prescott, and that’s the last time they beat Prescott, but that was also not a good Cowboys team. That was at the very end of 2019 and the Cowboys were in the middle of a 4-8 stretch that cost Garrett his job. The Eagles beat Dallas in 2017, and the Cowboys did go 9-7 that year so it was a decent win and remains the last Eagles win over a Dallas team with a winning record with their starting quarterback, but that was not a Cowboys playoff team. The Eagles beat Dallas on the last day of the 2016 season, but the Cowboys had a 1st-round bye locked up and played 3rd-string QB and former Eagle Mark Sanchez. The Eagles got a win over the Cowboys in 2015 but that was a 4-12 Dallas team. They beat them late in 2011 but neither team was going anywhere. Beat ‘em late in 2010, but that was a 6-10 Cowboys team. You get the idea. The last time the Eagles beat a playoff-bound Cowboys team that had its starting quarterback was Nov. 27, 2014, when both teams were 8-3 and Sanchez – still with the Eagles – threw for 217 yards with a TD pass to Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin had 108 receiving yards and LeSean McCoy ran for 159 yards. The Cowboys finished the season 12-4 and actually won a playoff game and the Eagles finished 10-6 but missed the postseason. That was nine years ago. So much at stake Sunday. A win puts the Eagles in terrific shape in their quest for a second straight No. 1 seed going into the bye week. A loss would mean this is the 12th straight season the Eagles have failed to sweep the Cowboys and make the rematch at AT&T Stadium next month a must-win at AT&T Stadium – where the Eagles have lost five straight. The Eagles are 8-14 in their last 22 games against the Cowboys, but right now? The Eagles are the better team. They’re over-due to play like it.
2. The last Eagles coach to win 10 games in consecutive seasons was Chip Kelly.
3. In 1955, Pete Pihos led the NFL with 62 catches for 864 yards in a 12-game season, made his fourth straight all-pro first team and his seventh straight Pro Bowl. He had 103, 127 and 114 yards in his last three games. He was 32 years old. And then he abruptly retired to pursue a job in the business world and spend more time with his family. Pihos – the Golden Greek - was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970. He’s one of only three Hall of Famers who only played for the Eagles. The others are Chuck Bednarik and Steve Van Buren, two of Pihos’s more famous teammates. The only other player since 1950 to retire after being named all-pro in his last four seasons is Dolphins Hall of Fame center Dwight Stephenson in 1987.
4. The Eagles haven’t had a 100-yard rusher in their last 17 games against the Cowboys. Their last 100-yard rusher vs. Dallas was LeSean McCoy, who ran for 159 yards on a Thursday night in 2014 at AT&T Stadium in the Eagles’ 33-10 win. The closest anybody has come since then is Jay Ajayi, who had 7-for-91 in the Eagles’ 37-9 win in Dallas in 2017. Shady is also the last Eagle to rush for 100 yards against the Cowboys at the Linc – that was back in 2011.
5. Dak Prescott has thrown 145 passes without an interception at the Linc, more than any other player. Next on that list is Jeff Garcia, with 120 passes without an INT, including three games for the Eagles in 2006 plus a game in 2003 for the 49ers against the Eagles. Garcia threw 91 passes at the Linc as an Eagle without an interception. The next-most pass attempts at the Linc by an Eagle without an INT? That would be three … by Greg Ward.
6A. Since the start of the 2021 season, Jake Elliott is the most accurate kicker in the NFL from 50 yards and out on 13-for-15 for 87 percent. Chris Boswell of the Steelers (19-for-23, 83 percent), Matt Gay of the Colts (16-for-20, 80 percent) and Chase McLaughlin of the Bucs (16-for-20, 80 percent) are the only other kickers at 80 percent (minimum 10 attempts).
6B. What about the most accurate kicker in NFL history? It’s a former Eagle. Among kickers who’ve attempted at least 30 field goals in their career, Cameron Dicker is No. 1 all-time with 32-for-34 for 94.1 percent. Justin Tucker has been doing it a little longer – he’s attempted over 400 field goals in his career - and he’s the only other kicker over 90 percent at 90.2. Dicker made his NFL debut filling in for injured Jake Elliott last October and went 2-for-2 – including a game-winning 23-yarder – in the Eagles’ 20-17 win over the Cards. That was his only game as an Eagle. He signed with the Chargers a couple weeks later, and his only career misses are a 52-yarder against the Raiders last year in Vegas and a 53-yarder against the Vikings in Minneapolis in September. He’s 30-for-30 in his career from 50 yards and in.
7. The Eagles have drafted one player in the last 20 years who had 10 career interceptions as an Eagle. Of course it's Nate Allen.
8. It’s truly remarkable to me that teams out there that desperately need a quarterback continue to ignore Carson Wentz. I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m not sure I’d sign him, either. But it speaks volumes about his reputation around the league that the Browns – who are 4-3 – would rather start P.J. Walker, who has one TD pass and five interceptions, than call Wentz. The Vikings, who are 4-4, would rather start Jaren Hall – a rookie 5th-round pick who’s thrown three career passes – and acquire Josh Dobbs and his 1-9 career record – than call Wentz. Is he really that bad? Nah. Just two years ago, Wentz threw 27 TDs and 7 INTs for the Colts before imploding vs. the Jaguars. Even last year with Washington he had a passer rating of at least 100 in four of his eight starts. When his former coaches – like Doug Pederson and Frank Reich - won’t even give him a courtesy workout that speaks volumes. His passer rating just two years ago was higher than Josh Allen’s, Jared Goff’s or Jalen Hurts’. He was top-10 in the NFL in 2021 in TD passes and interception ratio and from Week 4 through Week 17 he went 8-3 with 22 TDs and 5 INTs. That was less than two years ago. Even starting just seven games last year and not playing a snap this year, he’s still thrown the 8th-most TD passes in the NFL since 2017. And it’s not like he’s just a backup or a 3rd-stringer. It’s not like he’s working out for teams and it’s not going well. Nobody is even calling him Nobody wants him anywhere near their football team. There has never been a quarterback who fell this far this fast. And even though nobody will say it, it’s not because of his ability.
9. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts is the first quarterback in Eagles history with 2,000 passing yards, 68 percent accuracy and at least 13 passing TDs through eight games.
10A. How crazy is A.J. Brown’s streak of six straight games with 125 yards? From Week 13 of the 1996 season through Week 8 of the 2004 season – a span of 112 games over parts of nine seasons – the Eagles had a total of six 125-yard receiving games. Now Brown has had six in 35 days. That says as much about Brown’s run as it says about the Eagles’ wide receiver talent in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
10B. One really underrated aspect of Brown’s performance since he joined the Eagles is his massive yards-per-catch number. Brown’s 16.5 average since joining the Eagles is highest in the NFL over the last two seasons among receivers who’ve caught at least 75 passes (three per game). The only Eagles WRs over the last 50 years with a higher yards-per-catch (minimum 150 catches) are Mike Quick (17.8) and DeSean Jackson (17.2). But what’s really rare is Brown’s combination of catch volume and catch average. Brown is one of only two WRs in NFL history to average 75 yards per game and 16 yards per catch. The other is Lance Alworth (18.9, 75.5), a six-time 1st-team all-pro and 1st-ballot Hall of Famer. Pretty fair company.