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Roob's Observations: What makes Jason Kelce unique in Philadelphia sports history


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Roob's Observations: What makes Jason Kelce unique in Philadelphia sports history

The miracle of Jason Kelce, a Sydney Brown prediction, the remarkable career of Wes Hopkins and another insane Jalen Hurts stat

By Reuben Frank, Eagles Insider  Published July 3, 2023


The miracle of Jason Kelce, a Sydney Brown prediction, the remarkable career of Wes Hopkins and another insane Jalen Hurts stat.

It’s another edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations … soon to become Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations.

1. Has there ever been a Hall of Fame-caliber player – in any sport, in any city, in any era – who owned a city like Jason Kelce? In 100 years, people are going to look back and read about a Hall of Fame center who was just as comfortable chugging beer at the Jersey Shore as he was mauling defensive tackles, and the thing about Kelce is that everything he does and everything he says is 100 percent genuine. This is truly who he is, and he may have grown up in suburban Cleveland, but he's as Philly as anybody I’ve ever been around. In a city where so many superstars have been polarizing figures – Allen Iverson, Randall Cunningham, Eric Lindros, Donovan McNabb, Joel Embiid, Steve Carlton – you can’t find one Eagles fan from Bordentown to Cape May, from Downingtown to Northern Liberties, who doesn’t think the world of Kelce. He’s incredibly smart, he's funny as hell, he’s remarkably insightful about any topic you ask him about, he’s incredibly gracious with fans, and he’s one of the best centers to ever play the game. There’s never been anybody like him. There’s never been anybody close.

2. By beating the Giants 38-7 and the 49ers 31-7 in January, the Eagles last year became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive playoff games scoring 30 or more points and allowing fewer than 10 points. Only 10 other teams have had two such playoff games in their entire franchise history.

3. I’ll be surprised if Sydney Brown isn’t starting by the middle of the season. If not earlier. The Eagles are going to give the rookie 3rd-round pick from Illinois every opportunity to win a starting job across from second-year pro Reed Blankenship. Terrell Edmunds is a decent veteran safety who’s started 75 games and just turned 26, and it won’t be easy for Brown to beat him out. But Edmunds is also here on a one-year deal with a small $600,000 guarantee, and the Eagles have nothing else invested in him. Brown has to show he can cover NFL tight ends. He has to show he can be a sure tackler. He has to show he can apply his outstanding speed and toughness to the NFL game. If he can do all that, he’s your opening-day starter. But even if he’s not, I have a hunch Sean Desai will find some sub-packages for Brown and get him a taste of regular-season football. And if there’s a point where he’s ready – unless Edmunds is tearing it up – Brown gets his shot. Edmunds goes into training camp as the top guy, but Brown is the future. He may be the present, too.

4. It seems crazy now, but Jim McMahon in 1991 became the first Eagles quarterback ever to complete 60 percent of his passes in a season (minimum 50 attempts). McMahon went 8-3 in 11 starts in place of injured Randall Cunningham that year and completed 60.1 percent of his passes. The franchise record before 1991 was Mike Boryla’s 58.8 percent in 1974. How much have things changed since 1991? McMahon’s 60.1 percent accuracy ranked 10th out of 45 quarterbacks who threw at least 50 passes that year. It would have ranked 40th last year out of 58.

5. The Eagles held training camp at Lehigh for 17 years and had only two head coaches during that span. 

6. Wes Hopkins had one of the most remarkable Eagles careers I’ve ever seen. Wes was a 1st-round pick in 1983 out of SMU and a 1st-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 1985. But in a 1986 Week 4 game against the Rams on the Vet’s merciless turf, he tore his ACL and suffered ligament damage and underwent season-ending surgery. He was supposed to be OK by the following spring, but ultimately needed two more operations and missed the entire 1987 season as well as most of 1986. By the time the 1988 season began, he hadn’t played in 23 months. But even though he limped through training camp at West Chester that summer, Hopkins made it to opening day in Tampa and had an interception off Vinny Testaverde in a 41-14 win. He picked off Boomer Esiason the next week in a loss to the Bengals, and he finished the season with five INTs. He could never run like before the injury, but what he lost in speed he made up for in intelligence and savvy. He had two more 5-INT seasons in 1990 and 1991 and actually wound up with more interceptions after the injury (19) than before it (11). Wes had five seasons with five or more INTs – more than anybody else in Eagles history – and he and Brian Dawkins are the only players in franchise history with at least 30 interceptions and 10 sacks. Wes and Andre – last names not needed – formed a ferocious safety tandem with the Eagles for much of the 1980s and early 1990s. Very sad to think we lost both of them - Andre was 44 when he died in 2006 and Wes was 57 when he died in 2018. Their induction into the Eagles Hall of Fame is long overdue.

7. Just a reminder that Jalen Hurts is the only quarterback in Super Bowl history to complete 70 percent of his passes, throw for 300 yards with at least one TD pass and no interceptions. Even if you don’t even consider his 70 rushing yards and three rushing TDs, it was an unprecedented performance. And not only is he the only quarterback to complete 70 percent of his passes and throw for 300 yards without an interception and rush for 70 yards in a Super Bowl, he’s the only quarterback to do that in any game. Ever. He’s 24. And he’s signed through 2028. 

8. The Eagles won 14 games last year, the Cowboys won 12, the Giants 9 and the Commanders 8. The Vegas over-unders for those NFC East teams are 10 ½ for the Eagles, 9 ½ for the Cowboys, 8 ½ for the Giants and 6 ½ for Washington. So Vegas thinks every NFC East team will do worse this year than last year. I guess because of the schedule? Last year's NFC East teams won 43 games and this year's over-unders equal 35. That just seems weird.

9. Only two quarterbacks have gone into Lambeau Field since 2010 and beaten the Packers while throwing at least three TD passes with no interceptions. They are Nick Foles in 2013 and Carson Wentz in 2019.

10. D’Andre Swift is one of only 11 players in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing yards, 150 receptions and 25 touchdowns in his first 40 career games. Among the others are Hall of Famers like LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James and Marcus Allen and stars like Roger Craig, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. The Eagles have had some terrific receiving backs over the years – Wilbert Montgomery, Keith Byars, Ricky Watters, Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles – but they haven’t had a two-way weapon like Swift in a decade. Very curious to see how he’s used, how the running back rotation shapes up and how much it will help Jalen Hurts to have a receiver like Swift coming out of the backfield. The Eagles haven’t had a running back with more than 35 catches since Hurts got here. Just another way this offense can do damage.


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