A few leftover thoughts from the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints and other miscellaneous thoughts, observations and notions on the Eagles and more:
1. The biggest mystery from the playoff loss to the Saints is why the Eagles couldn’t get LeSean McCoy going. The leading rusher in the NFL averaged just 3.7 yards on 21 carries and was essentially a non-factor most of the game. Interestingly, McCoy finally got going just a little bit in the fourth quarter, when the Eagles scored on all three drives. McCoy was 16 for 55 through three quarters, a 3.4 average, then 5 for 22 in the fourth quarter, a 4.4 average. Once he found a little daylight, the offense just operated more efficiently. McCoy is now through five NFL seasons and has still yet to have a big rushing game in the postseason -- 5 for 24 vs. the Cowboys in 2009, 12 for 46 vs. the Packers in 2010 and 21 for 77 last Saturday night. It’s bewildering that the Eagles just can’t get him going in the playoffs -- especially against a team like the Saints, whose rush defense ranked 27th in the regular season at 4.6 yards per carry allowed.
McCoy has a career 4.8 rushing average, 10th-highest in NFL history among running backs with at least 1,000 carries. But his 3.9 career postseason average is 16th-best out of 22 active running backs with at least 30 career playoff games. I don’t think it was anything McCoy was doing wrong, there just weren’t any holes. The Eagles’ offensive line, so effective all year, just got manhandled. Never dreamed that would happen.
2. The Eagles’ loss to the Saints continued one of the stranger streaks in recent Eagles postseason history. Since scoring 33 points in the conference semifinal playoff win over the Bears in 2001 -- the Hugh Douglas/Jim Miller game -- the Eagles have gone 15 consecutive playoff games without scoring 30 points. The most they’ve scored during that stretch was 27 in the 2004 NFC Championship Game win over the Falcons. Most of those Eagles teams had very highly ranked offenses, too. But for whatever reason, they just didn’t function in the playoffs. Since 2002 -- a span of 12 years -- the Eagles have the second-lowest postseason scoring average among the 22 teams that have played at least six playoff games, at 20.3 points per game (the Titans average 18.0).
3. Every time I think about that game, I come back to the fact that the Eagles should have won. They were the better team, they had the lead with five minutes to go in their own stadium and they just couldn’t finish.
4. From 2000 through 2008, the Eagles won more playoff games (10) than in every other year in franchise history combined.
5. For everybody that wants to release Alex Henery immediately, I would urge some caution. It’s just not that easy to find kickers. I understand his weaknesses and his role in the Minnesota and New Orleans losses, but the bottom line is Henery is the ninth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, he’s 22 for 26 in his career from 40 to 49 yards, and in the three weeks before missing the 48-yarder against the Saints, he had made kicks of 51 yards against the Vikings, 49 against the Bears and 47 in Dallas. No doubt the Eagles should definitely try to upgrade and at least bring some competition in for Henery, but he’s not the only reason the Eagles lost to the Saints, just like David Akers wasn’t the only reason they lost to the Packers in 2010. One of the big reasons the Eagles moved on from Akers after 2010 was that awful game vs. Green Bay. A year later with the 49ers, he made 44 of 52 field goals, including 7 of 9 from 50 yards and out. It’s easy to say move on from Henery, but the Eagles have to be sure they have a better option before they do.
6. I don’t quite get how a commercial jet airliner can land at the wrong airport. Like ... radar?
7. It’s crazy watching guys like King Dunlap, Ronnie Brown and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie play well for other teams in the postseason. More than anything, it tells us just how screwed up the Eagles’ coaching staff was the last couple years under Andy Reid. There was talent here, but in most cases, the staff either couldn’t identify it or had no idea what to do with it.
8. I don’t think you can overstate the importance of consistency on a coaching staff. Take Nate Allen. He’s 26 years old and finishing up his fourth NFL season, and he’s had seven position coaches -- Dick Jauron, Mike Zordich, Johnnie Lynn, Todd Bowles, Bobby April III, Todd Lyght and John Lovett. There’s no way any player can maximize his talents when he’s got seven different voices in his head like that.
9. I don’t worry about much, but you know what I do worry about? The High Line. What’s the High Line? It’s the long elevated freight train line, built in 1904, that soars high above West Philly, cutting through Penn and Drexel’s campus roughly along 31st Street, just behind the Palestra and Franklin Field and continuing north along the Schuylkill toward the famed Zoo Interlocking and south across the river and into Grays Ferry. If you walk down Walnut Street between 30th and 31st Street, you can stand just a few feet under the trestle, and it’s frightening to look at. Just a jumble of rusted steel and crumbling concrete. It’s 110 years old, and I worry it will one day fall on me.
10. The anti-Nick Foles faction we’ve seen pop up the last couple weeks cracks me up. Since the season ended, I’ve heard Foles is only a game manager -- which is odd, considering he led the NFL in yards per attempt. I’ve heard he’s too careful with the ball and won’t throw into traffic, which is odd considering I was taught at an early age that throwing interceptions is a bad thing. I’ve heard he didn’t perform against top defenses, although against top-15 defenses this year he was 103 for 158 (65 percent) for 1,155 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Why are so many Eagles fans unwilling to embrace Foles after one of the greatest seasons in NFL history? Think about 29 touchdowns and two interceptions for a moment. And you’re going to find somebody better?
And I’ll tell you what ... watching the other quarterbacks in the playoffs, I didn’t see anybody who’s head and shoulders above Foles. Andrew Luck threw four interceptions against the Patriots. Foles has four interceptions in his last 567 attempts. If Luck was a third-round pick and Foles was the first pick in the draft, people would already be sending Foles to Canton. But since he was a three, I guess nobody wants to admit what’s obvious. He’s really freaking good.
11. I also don’t think Foles will ever have a season like he just did. Kind of like Doc Gooden, who was 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts in his second year. You figured he’d never have another year like that, and he didn’t. But he certainly had a long, productive career.
12. Let’s put Foles’ season in perspective. His 29 touchdowns are more than twice as many as any quarterback in NFL history who threw two or fewer interceptions in a season.
13. And look at it this way: Foles’ passer rating this year was 119.2. No quarterback in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has ever had a passer rating that high.
14. In the Patriots’ win over the Colts, LeGarrette Blount got 24 carries and Stevan Ridley 14. For the 49ers, Frank Gore got 17 carries and Kendall Hunter nine. Denver’s Knowshon Moreno got 23 carries and Montee Ball 10. For the Eagles against the Saints? McCoy got 21 carries and Bryce Brown and Chris Polk had none. As talented as Gore, Moreno and Blount are, their coaches found tremendous value in a change-of-pace back, and all three teams ran the ball effectively in their playoff wins this weekend. McCoy is the best tailback in the NFL right now, but Brown and Polk were good weapons this year, especially late in the year. There’s something to be said for fresh legs against a tired defense and just a different look, a different skill set, once in a while out of the backfield. I don’t get at all why Brown and Polk never got a touch in that game against the Saints.
15. Too bad we didn’t hear that Bruno Mars song more often during football over the weekend, right? “Oh yeah-eh. Oh yeah-eh.” Blech.
16. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed listening to Chris Wheeler. I found him insightful, prepared and thoughtful. I always learned something about baseball listening to Chris. Especially when it came to things like positioning fielders, setting up hitters, using the bullpen. I’ll miss him.
17. In the last five years, they’ve built 17 CVSs, 13 Walgreen’s and nine Rite-Aids within five miles of my house. Is there really that much demand for shampoo?
18. Here’s a crazy stat: The Eagles have just 15 sacks in their last nine playoff games, and they haven’t recorded four sacks in a postseason game since the 2004 NFC Championship Game against the Falcons.
Along the same lines: The last four quarterbacks the Eagles have faced in the postseason have all completed at least 66 percent of their passes -- Kurt Warner (75 percent in 2008 NFC Championship Game), Tony Romo (66 percent in 2009 wild-card game), Aaron Rodgers (67 percent in 2010 wild-card game) and Drew Brees (67 percent this year). Those are four of the eight most-accurate postseason performances ever against the Eagles, and all were losses. The last QB the Eagles held under 66 percent was Eli Manning in the 2008 conference semifinals. Not surprisingly, that’s the last playoff game the Eagles won.
19. Why is pass pressure and the secondary the absolute top priority for the Eagles this offseason? The Eagles have lost nine straight playoff games when the opposing quarterback completes 60 percent of his passes, and they’ve won 11 straight when the opposing QB completes less than 60 percent.
20. Todd Herremans and Trent Cole are coming up on their 10th seasons with the Eagles, Jason Avant is coming up on his ninth and Brent Celek his eighth. So who was the last Eagle to play at least 10 seasons and never wear another team’s uniform? I thought it was Koy Detmer, an Eagle from 1997 through 2006. But he actually spent five days with the Vikings in 2007. Wes Hopkins played his whole career with the Eagles, but he was in training camp with the Chiefs in 1993, although he returned to the Eagles after a few weeks.
The answer? Jerry Sisemore. Size was the third pick in the 1973 draft and played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Eagles, making the Pro Bowl twice. He retired in 1984, which means nobody has spent a decade with the Eagles and not played for another team in 30 years. Would love to see Todd, Trent, Jason or Brent end that streak.
21. You know how you can supposedly see the Great Wall of China from the moon? Yeah, forget it. The moon is -- on average -- about 240,000 miles from Earth, and the Great Wall is about 30 feet wide. To see an object 30 feet wide from the moon would be like spotting a pencil from 20 miles away. Not happening. It’s all lies!
22. The Eagles’ current five-year gap without a playoff win is their longest since the 12-year gap from 1981 through 1991. Eighteen NFL teams have won at least one playoff game since 2009. Yeesh. Training camp is six months away.
23. By rule, no piece of music credited to “X featuring Y” can be any good. As in “Pitbull featuring Ke$sha,” “Eminem featuring Rihanna,” “Katy Perry featuring Juicy J,” “Drake featuring Majid Jordan” or “Lady Gaga featuring R Kelly.” Was anybody “featured” on Kashmir? Or Gimme Shelter? Or I Am a Scientist? Enough with the featuring! [/GrumpyOldRoobRandomPoint].
24. Did you know new Penn State coach James Franklin has Eagles ties? Franklin was a summer coaching intern with the Ealges in 2000. It’s amazing to think of the guys who coached as unknowns with the Eagles over the years -- from Sean Payton to David Shaw to Tom Coughlin to John Harbaugh to Franklin -- before becoming big-time successful head coaches.
25. The I-95 construction project is really rolling now! PenDOT officials confirmed that a girder was added in 2013, and there are plans in the works to add another girder in 2014!