Eagles Observations: Why the team is right to believe in safety Marcus Epps

·7 min read

In Roob's Observations: Why the Eagles are right to believe in Epps originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Why the Eagles probably won’t spend on a big-money safety, expectations of Jonathan Gannon in 2022 and a crazy Boston Scott stat highlight this weekend’s Roob’s 10 random Eagles offseason observations.

There may even be a few thoughts on everybody’s favorite topics: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles and Jalen Hurts.

1. I know everybody’s clamoring for the Eagles to acquire a big-time safety next, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. The Eagles really seem to like Marcus Epps, and I can kind of see why. Epps was not bad last year. He’s tough and physical, smart and instinctive, solid tackler, decent in coverage, around the ball.

The only real issue is that he’s never been a full-time player. He averaged 32 snaps per game last year and ranked 18th of all qualifying safeties by Pro Football Focus — far higher than either Rodney McLeod (43rd) or Anthony Harris (53rd). He only averaged 11 fewer snaps per game than McLeod, and all you’re asking is that he increases from 32 snaps per game to maybe 50-ish.

Maybe the Eagles could trade some picks for a veteran safety and give him a huge contract, but Epps is already under contract with a modest $965,000 cap hit and has a chance to be pretty good. If I’m calling the shots, I’m saving the picks and giving Epps a shot at this.

More: Why Eagles think Epps is ready to be a starter

2. For those who doubt Gannon will be a more aggressive coach in Year 2, consider this: Since the end of last year, the Eagles added James Bradberry, Kyzir White, Nakobe Dean, Jordan Davis and Haason Reddick (and Brandon Graham) on defense and subtracted Alex Singleton, McLeod, Steve Nelson, Genard Avery, Hassan Ridgeway and Ryan Kerrigan.

Why on Earth wouldn't he coach more aggressively? Of course he will. He has players now.

3. If I’m ranking all the NFC teams, I’m not sure I’d put anybody other than the Rams, Packers, Buccaneers and 49ers ahead of the Eagles. I feel like the Eagles have bypassed the Cowboys, although it’s close, and considering the Eagles’ offseason, I’d put them ahead of the Cards — who won’t have DeAndre Hopkins until Week 7 — and the Vikings — who are starting over with a new coach.

Who else is there? The Saints? The Seahawks? The Commanders? Nah. The Eagles were a playoff team last year and they should be significantly better this year.

4. Hurts Stat of the Week: In the last 20 years, there have been only four quarterbacks who’ve averaged at least 12.3 yards per completion in their first two seasons and also averaged less than one interception every 45 pass attempts: Michael Vick, Marcus Mariota, Patrick Mahomes, Foles and Hurts.

5. When I wrote last week suggesting that fans shouldn’t boo Carson Wentz when he returns to the Linc, it sparked the usual lively (and occasionally ugly) Foles vs. Wentz debate with the usual questions: Would the Eagles have won a Super Bowl if Wentz didn’t get hurt and played the entire postseason and would the Eagles have won the Super Bowl if Foles started the entire year.

My answer to both questions is no.

Wentz has three career postseason passing yards in six seasons, so even as well as he was playing in 2017 to think he would have gone out and beaten the Falcons, Vikings and Patriots, I’m not buying it.

And Foles has never won more than eight games in a season and has never started more than 11. So to think he would have gone 13-3 and earned the Eagles No. 1 seed, I’m not buying that, either.

But really, that’s part of what makes 2017 so special. The Eagles did it as a team. They did it as a group. They did it together. With that team, the whole was definitely greater than the sum of the parts. Especially at quarterback. The 2017 Eagles didn’t have a Hall of Fame quarterback. They didn’t have Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Mahomes. They had two flawed quarterbacks who combined for one historic season of near perfection.

So why not retire the whole Foles vs. Wentz debate and just appreciate what they did together. Wentz started it, Foles finished it, and none of us will ever forget it.

More: Eagles legend Foles may have found a new home

6A. The Eagles have lost 16 playoff games in the last 30 years and 12 of those losses have been to Hall of Fame quarterbacks (current or future). That’s three to Brees, two to Brady, Kurt Warner and Troy Aikman and one apiece to Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.

The only non-Hall of Famers to beat the Eagles in the postseason over the last 30 years are Kerry Collins in 2000, Brad Johnson in 2002, Jake Delhomme in 2003 and Tony Romo in 2009.

6B. Interesting that the Eagles only lost one postseason game in their first 48 years of existence — the 1947 NFL Championship Game against the Cards in Chicago. And they never lost a home playoff game until 1981. It helped that they only played two of them from 1933 through 1978.

7. Going to be a big summer for two 2020 draft picks – 3rd-round pick Davion Taylor and 4th-round pick K’Von Wallace. Both are really in the same position. Taylor has started seven games in two years, Wallace six games. They’ve both shown some flashes, but neither has been able to stay healthy, neither has managed to play consistently and neither has a job locked up in 2022.

That linebacker spot in particular is getting awfully crowded. Taylor and Wallace have both had their moments, but in Year 3 as mid-round picks nothing is guaranteed. They’ve got to show up in training camp to find their way onto the 53.

8. Scott’s 34-yard rushing TD in the playoff game against the Bucs is the longest TD run in NFL postseason history by a running back with one carry. And it’s actually twice as long as the second-longest — a 17-yard TD by former Eagle Leonard Weaver while he was with the Seahawks on his only carry in a win over Washington in 2008.

9. Maybe the Eagles will keep Isaac Seumalo this year, but you can make a pretty good case for releasing him. Seumalo is a decent guard but he’s going into Year 7 and has only been a full-time starter once, in 2019, and he’s missed most of the last two years with injuries.

And he’s already lost his left guard job to Landon Dickerson.

And he’s carrying an ungainly $7.668 million cap figure.

And the Eagles can save about $1.2 million in cap space by cutting him (or cut the dead money to $2 million in 2022 and $3.8 million in 2023 by making him a post-June 1 cut).

And you have guys like Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta who can play right guard, who are just as good.

Why would you keep him?

10. Was Doug Pederson’s 84-yard touchdown pass to Torrance Small against the Giants at the Vet in 1999 the most unlikely 84-yard TD pass in NFL history? It was the longest pass of Pederson’s career and the longest catch of Small’s career.

One of the worst quarterbacks in Eagles history chucking it to one of the worst receivers in Eagles history. Not surprisingly, the Eagles lost (on Michael Strahan's 44-yard overtime pick-6 vs. Pederson).

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