Roob’s Observations: Is Jalen Carter’s conditioning cause for concern? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Why I’m not concerned with Jalen Carter’s conditioning, recalling the greatness of Mike Quick and thoughts on Nick Foles getting released.
Here’s this week’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations!
1. You don’t draft a guy No. 9 overall to be a part-time player. You don’t draft a guy No. 9 overall to be a situational player or role player. You draft him to be a star, and Jalen Carter has to be in great shape to be a star. I understand being alarmed at how out of shape he was at his pro day and by Nick Sirianni’s admission – which I don’t entirely believe – that practice was “cut down” because none of the rookies were in good enough shape to get through a full rookie practice. What’s important isn’t Carter’s fitness level on May 5, it’s his fitness level on Sept. 10. The Eagles don’t play a game for four months, and one thing we’ve learned over the last three years is that their player performance staff – led by Ted Rath – is the best in the NFL. They will get you healthy. They will get you in shape. They will prepare you to play football at your maximum capability and then they will keep you there. Now, Carter has to put in the work. He has to want to put in the work. But he’s got every tool at his disposal to arrive at opening day as the one-man wrecking crew the Eagles envision.
2. The last player the Eagles drafted with a top-10 pick who never made a Pro Bowl was Mike Mamula. But how about this: From 1983 through 1985, the Eagles had three straight top-10 picks, and they took three straight players who never made a Pro Bowl – Michael Haddix at No. 8 in 1983, Kenny Jackson No. 4 in 1984 and Kevin Allen No. 9 in 1985. Who could they have taken instead? Dan Marino, Wilber Marshall and Jerry Rice maybe?
3. No Eagles defensive end or edge rusher has ever had more than 6.0 sacks as a rookie, and I’d be surprised if Nolan Smith doesn’t make a run at that. The Eagles’ rookie sack record is Corey Simon’s 9 ½ in 2000, but among outside rushers, Derrick Burgess had 6.0 as a rookie in 2001, and considering that Smith will rotate with Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to the QB. I don’t know if they’ll get 70 sacks again, but with the depth the Eagles have inside and outside, they should be able to make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks, and I’d anticipate Smith having a major role in that.
4. If the Eagles have a winning record in 2023, Nick Sirianni will become only the second Eagles head coach – and the first in nearly 70 years – with a winning record in each of his first three seasons. Jim Trimble’s Eagles went 7-5 in 1952, 7-4-1 in both 1953 and 1954. After they went 4-7-1 in 1955, he was fired. Trimble went on to coach in the CFL and led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the 1957 Grey Cup championship, with a team led by Bud Grant, who had played for Trimble with the Eagles. Trimble was a candidate for the Packers’ head coaching job in 1959 but lost out to someone named Vince Lombardi. He spent 20 years as the Giants’ scouting director and won Super Bowl rings in 1987 and 1991. Trimble, who died in 2006 at 87, spent most of his later years living in Easton.
5. Veteran tight end Dan Arnold, who the Eagles signed on Friday, is an underrated acquisition. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Arnold has bounced around five teams in six years, but over the 2020 and 2021 seasons he had 66 catches for 846 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 12.8 yards per catch. The Eagles had a clear need for a second veteran pass-catching tight end behind Dallas Goedert, and Arnold – from the mighty football factory Wisconsin-Platteville – was the best budget guy out there. He’s not going to give you anything as a blocker, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a roster spot as a receiving tight end. The Eagles would love to see Jack Stoll or Grant Calcaterra take ownership of that TE2 spot, but Arnold gives you an option if they don’t.
6. In the last 30 years, the only 1st-round running backs to score a touchdown for the Eagles are Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown.
7. Nick Foles has an 8-13 record for four teams in five seasons since the Super Bowl. Since he got hurt halfway through 2014, he’s 14-20 in 34 regular-season starts for six teams. That’s 14 wins in eight seasons. I know there are some people who think the Eagles should bring Foles back for a third stint as a No. 3 behind Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota. But that would be a nostalgia decision, not a football decision. Foles has earned the right to do whatever he wants and if that means looking for another team that needs a backup QB, more power to him. But he’s made about $86 million in his career, according to Spotrac, he’s 34 years old, he’s coming off a season with four interceptions and no touchdowns for the Colts, and I kind of hope he calls it a career. It feels like time. Foles was 25-13 in an Eagles uniform and 8-18 for the Rams, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bears and Colts, who released him on Saturday. One of the strangest careers in NFL history. But as the years go by, we won’t remember the way his career began or ended. We’ll just remember the magical 2017 postseason and the day he out-played the greatest quarterback in history in the biggest game of his life.
8. During the five years from 1983 through 1987, Mike Quick averaged 62 catches for 1,087 yards, 10 ½ touchdowns and 17.6 yards per catch. The only other players in Eagles history with just one season with those numbers are Tommy McDonald in 1961 and 1962, Pete Retzlaff in 1965 and Ben Hawkins in 1967. Quick averaged that over a five-year span.
9. If you were watching the draft closely, you saw a guy named Ed Budde and his son Brad Budde announce Chiefs’ 2nd-round pick Rashee Rice, the SMU wide receiver. Brad Budde played seven years for the Chiefs in the 1980s and Ed was an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time 1st-team all-pro for the Chiefs from the early 1960s through the mid-1970s and probably should be in the Hall of Fame. Why is this notable? Because Ed Budde was drafted by the Eagles. In 1963, the Eagles made Budde the fourth player taken in the first round, ahead of future superstars like John Mackey, Jackie Smith, Buck Buchanan and Mount Laurel’s Dave Robinson. Unfortunately, he chose to play for the Chiefs, who drafted him eighth in the AFL draft and he never did become an Eagle. The only players the Eagles have ever drafted who made more Pro Bowls than Budde are Maxie Baughan and Brian Dawkins – plus Reggie White in the supplemental draft. Oops.
10. Tanner McKee was an odd pick in the sixth round because the chances he’ll ever play for the Eagles are so remote. The Eagles have found contributors over the years in the sixth round – Jason Kelce of course but also guys like Quez Watkins and Shaun Bradley in recent years and they’re certainly hopeful Calcaterra becomes a regular contributor. But the only quarterback the Eagles have drafted in the sixth round or later in the last 50 years who’s even thrown a pass in the NFL is 1997 7th-round pick Koy Detmer, who went 3-5 in eight career starts but was a heck of a holder for nine years. Maybe McKee will be different. He’s got good size and a big arm. He’s fighting some pretty extreme odds.