In Roob’s Observations: What do Eagles have to do in 2024 to save Nick Sirianni’s job?


In Roob’s Observations: What do Eagles have to do in 2024 to save Nick Sirianni’s job? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

A glimpse into Nick Sirianni’s future, a crazy Reggie White streak and a look back at Jalen Carter’s rookie year.

Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations never rests.

1A. What does Nick Sirianni have to do to keep his job beyond 2024? I think it’s pretty clear if the Eagles don’t win a playoff game this year, he’s gone. And he should be. Because if the Eagles lose in the wild-card round or don’t make the playoffs, then you’re looking at a team that reached a Super Bowl in 2022, finished 2023 with a 1-6 record and a blowout playoff loss and then failed to advance in the postseason again in 2024. That’s a trajectory Sirianni wouldn’t be able to survive. If the Eagles don’t win a playoff game this year, that means they lost in the wild-card round for the third time in four years (or earned the No. 1 seed and lost a home game to a wild-card team in the conference semis, which would be even worse). Just getting to the playoffs is no longer enough. Whatever equity Sirianni earned in 2022 is running out. He’s got to prove this team has moved beyond the 2023 collapse and that he still has what it takes to guide a team on a postseason run. The Eagles have real coordinators now. They have unlimited talent on offense, and they’re younger and faster on defense. They have a manageable schedule. Everything is in place for Sirianni to get this team to mid-January. If not, Jeff Lurie won’t have much of a decision to make.

1B. The last Eagles head coach who kept his job going into a fifth season without multiple seasons with a postseason win was Buddy Ryan in 1990. But things were different back then. It was before free agency, so coaches in general got more time to develop young players. And that 1989 Eagles team finished strong, winning five of its last six regular-season games before an ugly home wild-card loss to Jim Everett and the Rams. Plus, that team was incredibly loyal to Ryan, and even Norman Braman understood that. Despite a ton of animosity between Braman and Ryan, Braman said in the locker room immediately after that Rams loss that Ryan would return in 1990 on the final year of his contract: “Buddy will be the Eagles’ coach next year, no ifs, ands or buts.” But the extension Buddy wanted never came, and after the 1990 season and another home wild-card loss, Buddy was gone.

2. Let’s examine the career of Michael Haddix, the eighth player taken in the 1983 draft. He’s one of only two players in NFL history with at least 500 carries and three or fewer touchdowns (the other is 1950s Cards fullback Joe Childress.) He’s one of two running backs in NFL history with at least 500 carries and an average of 3.0 yards per carry or worse (the other is Bob Monnett, who played for the Packers in the 1930s). From 1985 through 1990, Haddix had 388 carries without a touchdown. That’s the most carries in NFL history over any six-year period without a touchdown (next-most is Drew Bledsoe’s 183 from 1994-2000, and the next-most by a running back is Gene Washington’s 166 from 2016 through 2023). The Eagles drafted Haddix instead of Dan Marino, Darrell Green, Bruce Matthews, Richard Dent, John Elway and Richard Dent.

3A. Jake Elliott is 7-for-11 on field goal attempts from 55 yards and out. Every other Eagles kicker in history combined is 3-for-31 from 55 yards and out.

3B. In NFL history, only two kickers are more accurate than Elliott from 55 yards and out (with a minimum of 10 attempts). Harrison Butker is 10-for-12 for 83.3 percent, Jason Myers is 15-for-20 for 75 percent and Elliott is 7-for-11 for 63.6 percent.

4A. I don’t want to come across as too negative when it comes to Parris Campbell and the Eagles’ third wide receiver competition. There’s certainly a chance Campbell can reinvent himself as a productive NFL wide receiver after five disappointing seasons. But the numbers are not encouraging. Consider this: There are 141 active wide receivers who’ve been targeted at least 100 times in their career. Of those 141, Campbell ranks 134th in yards per target at 6.4. Among active 1st– or 2nd-round picks, only Zay Jones is worse, at 6.1. The NFL has been tracking targets since 1992, and in those 32 years Campbell ranks 472nd out of 523 receivers in yards per target, according to Stathead. The production has just never been there. Now, with Jalen Hurts as his QB and Kellen Moore as his OC and without the expectations of being The Guy and with DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown drawing the other team’s top corners, maybe Campbell will blossom into an outstanding No. 3. It’s possible. But the analytics aren’t pretty.

4B. Comparing Campbell to various Eagles throughout history, his 6.4 yards per target are lower than J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (8.3), Jeff Maehl (8.1), Mack Hollins (8.0), Riley Cooper (7.6), Reggie Brown (7.6), Todd Pinkston (7.4), Freddie Mitchell (7.4), Victor Bailey (7.4), Miles Austin (7.2), Greg Lewis (7.0) and James Thrash (6.6) and tied with Jalen Reagor.

5A. The Eagles are 26-2 since October 2013 when they’ve had a 100-yard rusher. Both losses were to the Ravens – late in 2016, Ryan Mathews ran for 128 yards in a 27-26 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium and Week 6 of 2020, Miles Sanders ran for 118 yards in a 30-28 loss at the Linc. Last time they lost to a team other than the Ravens with a 100-yard rusher was Week 3 of 2013, when LeSean McCoy ran for 158 yards in a 26-16 loss to the Chiefs at the Linc. Last time they lost to an NFC opponent with a 100-yard rusher was Week 13 of 2012, when Bryce Brown ran for 169 yards in a 38-33 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. They’ve won 11 straight games with a 100-yard rusher since the 2020 Ravens game. They’re 9-0 under Nick Sirianni with a 100-yard rusher.

5B. Since November of 2012, the Eagles are 0-2 when Bryce Brown rushes for 100 yards and 27-3 when someone else does.

6A. Who has the most rushing yards on the Eagles over the last 50 years without ever playing for another team? Believe it or not, it’s Jalen Hurts, with 2,503 career rushing yards. Most by a running back who only played for the Eagles over the last half century? That would be Anthony Toney, with 2,294 yards. Only Heath Sherman (2,130), Boston Scott (1,295) and Kenny Gainwell (895) are also above 500. The only backs from the Eagles’ early years with at least 1,000 rushing yards – all for the Eagles – are Steve Van Buren (5,860), Frank Ziegler (1,926), Jim Parmer (1,636), Ernie Steele (1,337) and Po James (1,215).

6B. Much less surprising is that Hurts has the most passing yards by an Eagle without ever playing for another team. Good luck guessing who’s second. It’s Davey O’Brien, who threw for 2,614 yards as an Eagle in 1939 and 1940. Koy Detmer is next at 1,944, and nobody else is over 1,000 yards (Detmer spent five days with the Vikings in 1997 but never got into a game).

6C. Receiving is a whole different animal. Five of the nine-leading receivers in Eagles history never played for another team: Pete Retzlaff is second (7,412 yards), Mike Quick fourth (6,464), Pete Pihos sixth (5,619), Bobby Walston eighth (5,363) and Brent Celek ninth (4,998). Each played their entire career with the Eagles. All of Ben Hawkins’ 4,764 yards were with the Eagles, but he played two games for the Browns in 1974. So he doesn’t count.

7. Nick Foles’ career postseason passer rating of 98.8 is 10th-highest in NFL history among quarterback who’ve thrown at least 100 passes. Did you ever wonder what his passer rating would look like if not for his two interceptions off the hands of Alshon Jeffery? The one in the Super Bowl – picked off by Duron Harmon – would have been a 41-yard completion. The Eagles had a 1st-and-10 on the Patriots’ 43 and Jeffery batted the pass up in the air for Harmon to pick it off on the right sideline at the 2-yard-line. The one in New Orleans in 2018 would have only been a five-yard gain. The Eagles had a 2nd-and-10 on the Saints’ 27, Jeffery let the pass go through his hands at the 22, and Lattimore picked it off at the 19. Turn those two INTs into completions for a total of 46 yards and Foles’ passer rating jumps from 98.8 to 104.4, and he passes Josh Allen (100.0), Aaron Rodgers (100.1), Baker Mayfield (100.4), Matt Ryan (100.8), Matt Stafford (101.7) and Kurt Warner (102.8) and moves into fourth place all-time, behind only Jeff Hostetler (112.0), Patrick Mahomes (105.8) and Bart Starr (104.8).

8A. Jalen Hurts has already thrown 17 touchdown passes to A.J. Brown and 17 to DeVonta Smith. If they catch eight TDs apiece this year, Hurts will join Ron Jaworski as the only Eagles QB with 25 touchdown passes to two different receivers. Jaws threw 47 to Harold Carmichael and 33 to Mike Quick.

8B. The top 10 QB-WR combinations in NFL history: Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison (112 touchdowns), Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski (90), Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates (89), Steve Young to Jerry Rice (85), Dan Marino to Mark Clayton (79), Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown (74), Drew Brees to Marques Colston (72), Aaron Rodgers to Devante Adams (68), Manning to Reggie Wayne (67) and Rodgers to Jordy Nelson and Jim Kelly to Andre Reed (65 each).

9. During his eight years with the Eagles, Reggie White only went three straight games without a sack once – from Week 3 through Week 5 of 1986 vs. the Broncos, Rams and Falcons. His last six seasons with the Eagles, he never went more than two games without a sack.

10. I feel like sometimes Jalen Carter is unfairly criticized because of Jordan Davis’s inconsistency. Kind of guilt by association. And it’s complicated because both of them did tail off last year, just like almost everybody on the roster. Seems like because Carter and Davis were college teammates, were both 1st-round picks, are best friends and play similar positions they just get automatically linked together. But even with a late-season decline, Carter had a fantastic rookie year. Pro Football Focus gave him an 87.4 grade, 6th-highest among 116 interior linemen who played at least 300 defensive snaps. (Davis ranked a very good 29th on that list despite his own late-season decline). Most of Carter’s big-play production came early in the season – he had 3 ½ of his 6.0 sacks, four of his eight tackles for loss and both forced fumbles the first five weeks of the season – but he was still playing at a high level the rest of the season, even though the splash plays weren’t there. He and Davis both faded, but Carter started out at a much higher point. Looking at the big picture, this was a rookie interior lineman who had 6.0 sacks, eight tackles for loss and two forced fumbles, and the last Eagles defensive tackle to do that in a season was Darwin Walker 20 years earlier in 2003. It’s scary to think how good this kid can be. All-pro good. He’s big, fast, powerful, dominating. In Year 2, with better conditioning, a growing understanding of the NFL game and an upgraded defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio, I expect huge things from Carter.

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