Eagles: Who Will Be First To Do ... What?
Having some fun on a Sunday afternoon with a little game called “Questions Answered.”
I’ll ask a question then answer it with what really amounts to a guess, though as close to an educated one as I can get. My answer will also contain some predictions.
Here we go:
Who will be the first...?
To catch a touchdown pass? Zach Ertz. The tight end didn’t catch his first TD of the season until Oct. 6 and still finished with six for the season. Ertz will get it out of the way in the season opener against the Washington Redskins.
Last year’s first TD catch: DeSean Jackson had it with 4:19 to go in the second quarter of the season opener that was also the first score of the season and pulled the Eagles to within 17-7 of the Washington Redskins in a game Philly would eventually win 32-27.
To run for a touchdown: Miles Sanders. Like Ertz, Sanders won’t waste any time making it happen and will knock this one out in the opener. Sanders will finish with seven rushing touchdowns this season.
Last year’s first rushing TD: Quarterback Carson Wentz in Week Two on a 1-yard plunge against the Falcons that gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead with 3:13 to play in a game the Eagles would lose 24-20.
To record a QB sack? Derek Barnett. I will go further and say that it will come early - in the opener - and Barnett won’t stop. He will end up with the first double-digit sack season of his career and get 12 of them. That means he will also have to stay healthy.
Last year’s first sack: Tim Jernigan got it against the Redskins in the opener. It was one of just four sacks the Eagles had in their first four games, though the pace picked up as the season went on from there. Jernigan is a free agent again after not being able to come to terms with the Houston Texans in free agency.
To notch the first interception? The most obvious answer is veteran newcomer Darius Slay and he may do it, but I’m going with the not-so-obvious and that is Avonte Maddox, who I believe will be the starter on the opposite corner to Slay.
The feeling is that, early on, anyway, teams will not test Slay very often, but an early pick by Maddox will force defensive coordinators to rethink that strategy and test Slay more often.
As a result, look for Slay to notch four interceptions.
Last year’s first interception: Ask me this question last year and I don’t believe I would have said Sidney Jones but that’s who it was. Jones got it with 41 seconds left in the first half against the Falcons in Atlanta. The Eagles had three picks against Matt Ryan that day with Ronald Darby and Nathan Gerry getting the others.
Jones finished tied for second for most interceptions on the team last year at two along with Darby, Gerry, and Rodney McLeod.
When will Jalen Reagor score his first TD and how will he do it?
Reagor’s first career touchdown will be on a punt return, and it will happen within the first month of the season.
Let’s say Week Two at home against the Los Angeles Rams. L.A. gave up 8.3 yards per punt return in 2019, which ranked them 21st in that category.
The Eagles were 25th in the league in punt return average with just 5.9 yards per return, but they really didn’t have an accomplished player at that spot after Darren Sproles got hurt again.
Reagor will give them that added dimension they missed, and the punt return team should be better after adding speed in the offseason.
First rookie to score last year: Miles Sanders, Oct. 27 vs Buffalo Bills on a 65-yard touchdown run early in the second half of a game the Eagles wound win in Buffalo, 31-13.
Will Reagor break DeSean Jackson’s rookie record of 912 yards receiving in 2008?
I have written about this a couple of times. At first, I didn’t think it possible. My most recent musing believes it can happen. Ask me again, if/when we are able to see Reagor practice in training camp, and I may change my mind again.
Right now, I’m going to say, yes, he tops 912.