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November 21, 2022

Who won the week in Philly sports: Howie Roseman fixed the Eagles' most glaring weakness

The Eagles' run defense was maligned throughout the city last week. With the NFL's trade deadline in the rearview mirror, it didn't appear that there was an easy path for the Birds to add some depth given their poor injury luck. Howie Roseman wasn't having any of that. With swiftness following Monday night's loss to the Commanders, Roseman brought two former Pro Bowl defensive tackles to Philly, and within days they were making key stops for the Eagles' defense, helping the Birds knock off Indianapolis 17-16. 

The Eagles are in championship-or-bust mode given their eight-straight wins to open the season and Roseman is giving this squad every possible opportunity to make it to Arizona in February.

Roseman is the back-to-back champion of the illustrious "Who won the week in Philly sports" title.

Let's give the Eagles' general manager his flowers...

Stuffed 🦃

Turkey Day is on its way this week, but the Eagles were already stuffing the Colts' run game on Sunday. 

The additions of 34-year-old two-time Pro Bowler Linval Joseph and 35-year-old three-time First-Team All-Pro Ndamukong Suh were massive both literally and figuratively. Joseph is listed at 6'4", 329 lbs. Suh comes in at 6'4", 313 lbs. They're filling the void rookie Jordan Davis' ankle injury left. There was rightful concern about the Eagles' run D following those big performances from Houston's Dameon Pierce and Washington's Brian Robinson when Davis was out. Pierce dashed the Birds for 139 yards on the ground in Week 9. Robinson then went for 86 in his own right and the Commanders picked up 152 total rushing yards. Jonathan Taylor was up next, the guy who ran a league-leading 1,811 yards last season. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen!

Taylor had an unreal first drive, going for 49 yards and a touchdown on 7.0 yards per carry. That was the end of his big day. Joseph was clogging running lanes like it's 2017. Suh reminded me of his 2020 self, working as a key cog in the Buccaneers' Super Bowl machine. Taylor finished with "only" 84 yards on the ground in Indy's loss (his over/under betting mark was 85.5). Taylor's 3.8 yards per rush on the day overall was his third-lowest mark of the season. In 25 games over the last two years, Taylor has had under four yards per carry just six times. That was all Joseph with Suh getting that dirty work in too. 

The duo combined for seven tackles and a sack (they each got half a sack on the same play): 

What worked against the Eagles with Davis' absence looming is that it forced other players to play too much. Fletcher Cox, in his age-32 season, played 70 snaps against the Commanders. Cox hadn't played that many since Week 8 of the 2020 season (74 snaps). He played 70+ snaps just once during his First-Team All-Pro campaign in 2018 (79 snaps in a Week 14 overtime loss to Dallas). That's not going to work. It barely did when Cox was one of the game's elite players. He's a franchise tentpole and a Super Bowl champ, but he's not that guy anymore. 

Roseman identified that gigantic problem and rectified it within days. Few gave Roseman more grief in 2019 and 2020 than me, but the guy has been money in re-stacking this roster for a Super Bowl run. 

For the taking 👑

The NFC is weak. 

The Eagles smashed the Vikings on Monday Night Football at home in Week 2. Minnesota was also 8-1 going into Sunday and the Cowboys preceded to destroy them 40-3. The Birds also knocked off Dallas on Sunday Night Football this year, though the national media is quick to overlook that. The 49ers are a well-coached team with a well-rounded roster, but if you're scared of Jimmy Garoppolo coming into the Linc in January, get a dog. The NFC East is feisty with all four squads having a winning record, but I can't see Taylor Heinicke winning twice in South Philly in one season. Daniel Jones? Would be comical if it happened even once. Aaron Rodgers is too busy spaced out and listening to "Dark Side of the Moon." For the first time in over two decades, Tom Brady resembles something more human than machine. 

Did I forget anyone?

The AFC has been the vastly superior conference throughout the 21st century due to its stable of quarterbacks (Brady, Peyton Manning, etc.). That's even more true in 2022. Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert's respective teams aren't even leading their divisions in the AFC! Geno Smith's Seahawks are the No. 3 seed in the NFC right now! 

If a freak like me can see this, you know Roseman has been calculating this all offseason and that's why he went all-in with the A.J. Brown deal, traded up for Davis, signed James Bradberry and swung a move for C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The Eagles don't have to be perfect to win the conference. They just have to be the least imperfect team. 

Did I expect to be writing over 800 words on Joseph and Suh right now? No, but that's what makes these moves from Roseman great. They were simple on the surface, provided an immediate boost and can potentially keep this defensive line fresh all the way into February. We all know what happened the last time the Eagles brought a d-line this deep into the winter

Who won the week runner-up: Jonathan Gannon 👊

The most hated man in Philly did a great job incorporating new pieces quickly on Sunday and held the Colts to just 16 points. Gannon's defenses have allowed 16 or fewer points in eight of the Eagles' 10 games so far this year. I completely understand that the scheme can be maddening at times and the Washington game was death by a thousand cuts, but the Eagles could do (and have done) a lot worse than Gannon at defensive coordinator. 

I've planned to do a "Who won the year in Philly sports?" story at the end of 2022 where the winner is based off this feature's running tally. Maybe some big moments from Jalen Hurts shift things or Bryce Harper makes a speech that lands the Phillies both Trea Turner and Carlos Rodón, but it's Roseman's award to lose right now...

Who Won the Week 2022 Tally:

Howie Roseman: 6

Bryce Harper: 4

Rhys Hoskins: 4

Jalen Hurts: 2

Rob Thomson: 2

J.T. Realmuto: 1

Phillies: 1

Haason Reddick: 1

Eagles fans: 1

A.J. Brown: 1

Nick Sirianni: 1

Avonte Maddox: 1

Eagles: 1

Kyle Schwarber: 1

Tyrese Maxey: 1

Tobias Harris: 1

Joel Embiid: 1

Ray Didinger: 1

Phillies bullpen: 1

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