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October 08, 2023

Eagles mailbag: We all realize the NFL is going to ban the 'tush push,' right?

In a new mailbag, Jimmy Kempski answers Eagles fans' questions about the Tush Push, Jalen Carter's future and more.

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100723EaglesTushPush Patrick Breen/USA TODAY NETWORK

Enjoy it while you can.

A few days ago, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter or whatever it's called now. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This is Part II of a two-part mailbag (Part I here). Let's just get right to it.

Question from @trunz10: What are the realistic chances the tush push sneak actually gets banned next offseason? I know I’m biased but banning a play because one team is good at it would make the NFL seem incredibly soft.

My guess is that it will be banned. The primary argument against it was that it is an "unstoppable play," but as we have seen, other teams that run it are getting stopped pretty regularly. It seems it's only "unstoppable" when one team does it.

Now that the "unstoppable play" fallacy has been put to bed, you can see the narratives changing. Now it's "an ugly play," or "not a football play," or whatever aesthetic reasoning commentators or even a certain defensive coordinator can come up to argue that it should be banned. Spoiler: There will soon be people who call it a dangerous play, predictably pointing to the Giants' failed tush push against the Seahawks last Monday night, when two Giants players got hurt on the play, even if one of them really had nothing to do with the play and wasn't even being shoved from behind.

But ultimately, my read is that there are enough people that seem to be vehemently against it, and plenty of teams that don't want to have to prepare for it, that it'll be legislated out of the game. It'll be a pathetic display of unfairness and cowardice when it happens, and yet, it really won't even matter all that much because the Eagles will continue to convert regular QB sneaks at an impressive clip anyway.

UPDATE: Literally 12 minutes after we published this:

Respectfully, it is not "customary" for the NFL to thoroughly investigate injury data on a play the first time a guy gets a minor injury while running it.

Question from OfficeLinebacker: Look into your crystal ball and foretell who will have the better Eagles career:

  1. A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith
  2. Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert
  3. Jalen Carter or Fletcher Cox
  4. Nick Sirianni or Andy Reid

That's a hard question. Love it.

• A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith: They're both great, but as long as DeVonta can stay healthy he's going to have significantly more longevity in Philly.

• Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert: Ertz is second all-time in Eagles history in receptions, fifth in yards, and seventh in receiving TDs. He also has a go-ahead TD catch in the Super Bowl on his résumé. Goedert is a much better blocker than Ertz was, but he has little chance of matching Ertz's receiving production.

• Jalen Carter or Fletcher Cox: Cox has four All-Pro nods, six Pro Bowls, 65.5 career sacks, and at one time in his career he was arguably the second-best DT in the NFL. He is an Eagles great. I think Jalen Carter is going to be better.

• Nick Sirianni or Andy Reid: Reid is very easily one of the 10 best coaches in NFL history, and he's probably top 5. Of course, when his career is said and done, he'll be remembered more for what he did in Kansas City than for what he did in Philly. In his 14 years in Philly, Reid had a 130-93-1 (0.583) record, 9 playoff appearances, and 6 NFC East titles. Of course, he only had one Super Bowl appearance, which he lost. I don't think that is an insurmountable résumé by any stretch. 

Sirianni is off to a great start. In 2-plus years, he has a 27-11 (0.711) record, 2 playoff appearances (very likely a third on the way), and he has already gotten as far as Reid did in the postseason. He also has a loaded roster and what looks like a long-term winner of a franchise quarterback. I don't think Sirianni will ever be thought of as a better head coach than Reid overall because of Reid's Chiefs career, but I kinda like his chances vs. Reid if we're only looking at their respective Eagles tenures.

Question from jlark324: I ran across a crazy Bill Belichick stat. In games not started by Tom Brady his record fell to 80-90 with Sunday’s loss. Of course, without Belichick, Brady took Tampa to the playoffs all 3 years he was there and won another Super Bowl. Is Belichick the most overrated coach of all time? I had this debate with a Pats fan who said, “You don’t win in this league without a top QB. Name any great coach that won consistently without a top QB. Andy Reid couldn’t.” So I took the challenge and looked up Reid’s record in games NOT started by McNabb or Mahomes. He’s 94-73. Here’s a chronological list of QBs who started in those other games: Doug Pederson, Koy Detmer, A.J. Feeley, Mike McMahon, Jeff Garcia, Kevin Kolb, Mike Vick, Vince Young, Nick Foles, Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Matt Moore, Chad Henne.

A lot of Andy questions this week! We should probably save this for the Week the Eagles play the Chiefs, but whatever. I looked at the non-McNabb, non-Mahomes QBs as well, and I came up with 91-73. In order of total career starts under Reid:

QBs under Reid Record 
Alex Smith 50-26 
 Michael Vick18-16 
 Doug Pederson2-7 
 A.J. Feeley4-3 
 Kevin Kolb3-4 
 Nick Foles2-5 
 Mike McMahon2-5 
 Jeff Garcia5-1 
 Koy Detmer2-1 
 Vince Young1-2 
 Chase Daniel1-1 
 Matt Moore1-1 
 Chad Henne0-1 

Alex Smith is doing a lot of the heavy lifting there, and he was an above average quarterback, but your point is well taken. I'll just say that I would take Reid over Belichick in half a heartbeat. You can see Belichick's demise in New England on the horizon, and it has a chance to become ugly.

Question from @ndutton13: Should we be concerned at the lack of production from Dallas Goedert? Or are we, in classic Eagles fan behavior, just looking for something to complain about on a 4-0 football team with an absolute monster [in A.J. Brown] producing the goods at wide receiver?

In my opinion, Goedert had the best training camp of his career. He was pretty much unguardable this summer. His slow start has been a surprise, but he's still a great player and it's only a matter of time before he starts producing. 

Question from @Moldy92: Does the team have a decision to make on Avonte Maddox next year with a year to free agency and his injury history?

For sure. Maddox is scheduled to make $6,850,000 in base salary in 2024. Because he has not been able to stay on the field, he is not seeing that money, as is. I think that a fair compromise would be for Maddox to take a pay cut, but with playing time / production incentives that can get him back up to something close to that figure. Either way, the Eagles will be shopping for cornerbacks who can play inside in the 2024 draft.

Question from @ThisFnGameIsOvr: When Nakobe Dean returns what does the playing time at linebacker look like?

I would guess that Dean will resume his role as the "green dot" helmet guy, with Nicholas Morrow serving as the WILL, and Zach Cunningham coming off the bench when needed.

Question from @BKn0B: Has there ever been a time in your NFC Hierarchy column where you killed off a team, but later had to bring them back from the dead?

Yes. In 2012, I killed off Washington when they were 3-6, but they won their final seven games and were NFC East champs. I'd link to it, but it was no my old blog which doesn't exist anymore.

Question from @HarkBog: Is Met Life Stadium the new factory of sadness?

In case you're unaware of the "Factory of Sadness," here you go. Anyway, the five worst records in the NFL since 2017:

Team Record Win % 
 Texans38-63-1 0.377 
 Jaguars36-66 0.353 
 Broncos36-66 0.353 
 Giants32-69-1 0.319 
 Jets30-72 0.294 

Aaaaand the five worst point differential during that same span:

Team Point differential 

So, uh, yeah, tough times in North Jersey.

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