In Roob's Eagles observations: Was Sweat's huge contract a huge mistake? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Pondering the Josh Sweat contract extension, a curious Darius Slay-Jalen Reagor comparison and the fascinating story of unknown Eagles legend Don Looney.
Welcome to this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations!
1. We’re 12 weeks in now, and it’s fair to wonder if the Eagles jumped the gun on Josh Sweat’s contract extension. The Eagles in September paid Sweat $40 million over three years, including $26.9 million guaranteed. In terms of average annual salary, that made Sweat the 15th-highest-paid defensive end in the league. What have they gotten for that so far? Sweat has 3 ½ sacks – two against the Lions. He’s tied for 60th in the NFL in sacks. The Eagles thought this would be a breakout year for Sweat, who had a career-high 6.0 sacks last year. But it hasn’t happened. If anything, he’s regressed. With Brandon Graham turning 34 this spring and coming off a major Achilles injury, maybe the Eagles felt like they had no choice to extend either Derek Barnett or Sweat, who both faced free agency, or possibly be left with no edge rushers. And I’m all in favor of letting the chronically underachieving Barnett walk. But maybe the Eagles would have been better off letting both of them walk and starting over from scratch in the draft. Although that’s how they got into this mess in the first place.
2. Darius Slay has more return yards (188) since Week 2 than Jalen Reagor has receiving yards (153).
3. In his first seven starts, Zach Wilson has thrown 4 TD passes and 10 interceptions and has been sacked 23 times. He’s the first NFL QB since Geno Smith in 2013 to throw 10 interceptions and get sacked at least 23 times in his first seven career starts. He’s been held without a TD pass in five of his last six games. He’s on pace to have the lowest passer rating by a 1st-round pick in 12 years. This is such an opportunity for the Eagles’ defense to make life miserable for an opposing quarterback. To really impose its will on someone. It’s been obvious watching Wilson that he just isn’t ready for the NFL. The Eagles have been among the worst in the NFL getting sacks (30th) and interceptions (22nd), and if they can’t make a bunch of big plays against this kid Sunday I don’t know if they ever will. Not just pressure him but sack him. Not just knock passes down but pick them off. Don’t let him stand in the pocket and fire away and build confidence. If they can, they’ll win by double digits.
4. DeVonta Smith has started all 12 games, and Landon Dickerson has started 10. This is the first time the Eagles’ 1st- and 2nd-round picks have each started 10 or more games as rookies since 1995, when 1st-round pick Mike Mamula started 13 and 2nd-round pick Barrett Brooks started all 16. It also happened in 1957 (Clarence Peaks, Billy Ray Barnes) and 1988 (Keith Jackson, Eric Allen).
5. Something Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said this week stuck out to me. He was talking about the final offensive play against the Giants, when it sure looked like Jalen Hurts had DeVonta Smith open for a moment streaking down the left sideline before hesitating and then throwing to Reagor. Now, Hurts did make a perfect throw to Reagor, but given the choice of an open Smith or an open Reagor, you’re going to make the throw to Smith every time. Steichen defended Hurts’ decision on the play, saying, “It would have been a heck of a football throw if he made it.” But shouldn’t an NFL quarterback be able to make a “heck of a football throw?” I don’t want to pile on Hurts, and I’m still willing to see how he rebounds Sunday and how he plays the rest of the year. But that’s a throw an NFL QB has to make, and his own offensive coordinator was basically saying Hurts can’t make it, and that’s concerning. Gotta make that throw.
6. Speaking of Reagor, with two more starts this year with 25 or fewer yards, he’ll set the Eagles record for most games in a season with 25 or fewer yards by a starting wide receiver. Nelson Agholor (2016), Riley Cooper (2015) and Todd Pinkston (2003) share the record of nine, and Agholor (2015), Kenny Jackson (1986) and Reagor this year have each had eight. No other WR in the NFL has more than five such games this year. There are 58 wide receivers who have started at least 16 games since opening day last year. Of those 58, Reagor is the only one who hasn’t had a 60-yard game.
7. The Eagles have the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL but they’re one of only seven teams that hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher.
8. One of my favorite Eagles of all time only played 11 games in an Eagles uniform. Don Looney was the Eagles’ 8th-round pick in 1940 out of Texas Christian, and he was the only Eagle with 100 receiving yards in each of his first two career games for 68 years – until DeSean Jackson matched him in 2008. Looney finished the season with three NFL records - 58 catches in a season and also 14 catches and 180 yards, which he recorded in the season finale against Washington at Griffith Stadium. He also led the NFL with 707 receiving yards, 2nd-most in NFL history. Looney played for the Eagles immediately after hitting .283 in 65 games for the Fort Worth Cats of the Double-AA Texas League. And get this: Looney’s 64.3 yards per game as an Eagle is 3rd-highest in franchise history behind T.O. (93.5 and Jackson (68.5) among those who played at least 10 games. Mike Quick is next at 64.0. The Eagles traded Looney to the Steelers after the season and he spent two years in Pittsburgh (catching only 17 passes for 245 yards) before joining the Army. After World War II, Looney served for seven years as an NFL official. He also had a 100-acre fruit farm in Texas, raising peaches and apples. He was 98 and the oldest living former NFL player when he died in 2015. Love this guy.
9. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts has 695 rushing yards, a 5.7 average and eight TDs. He’s only the seventh player to hit those marks through 12 games since 1974. The others: Michael Vick (2002), Adrian Peterson (2007, 2012), Chris Johnson (2009), Phillip Lindsay (2018), Kyler Murray (2020) and Jonathan Taylor (2021).
10. The last Eagle other than DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert with 60 receiving yards in a game was Zach Ertz.
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