July 07, 2019
The NFL offseason continues to drag on as the wait for football seems never-ending this time of summer. But fear not. Just three weeks from now, most teams will have reported to training camp and the start of preseason will be just around the corner.
In the meantime, there was football of a different type being played across the pond on Sunday, as the United States defeated the Netherlands, 2-0, to take their second straight Women's World Cup title. And Mr. Julie Ertz was on hand to cheer on his wife.
If you're reading this story, however, you're probably more interested in the football that's played in helmets and pads, so we won't waste any more time and we'll get right into our latest edition of What They're Saying about the Eagles...
Over at NFL.com, Tom Blair decided to rank the top teams of this decade (since 2010), and the 2017 Eagles team that won Super Bowl LII had a good showing, coming in third overall, behind only the 2013 Seahawks and the 2015 Carolina Panthers.
To note, the rankings listed below are relative to the rest of the teams in the league that season, not the other teams on the list.
3) 2017 Philadelphia Eagles
Record: 13-3; beat Patriots in Super Bowl LII, 41-33.
-- 7th in overall offense (365.8 ypg)
-- 3rd in scoring (28.6 ppg)
-- 4th in overall defense (306.5 ypg)
-- 4th in points allowed (18.4)
-- T-1st in point differential (162)
You might be surprised to find the Eagles here, given that they do not appear in the top-10 decades-long rankings in any of the big-picture categories I looked at. No individual player topped the 1,000-yard mark in either receiving or rushing, while quarterback Carson Wentz threw for just 253.5 yards per game. And, of course, Wentz didn't even participate in Philadelphia's improbable Super Bowl push, felled by a knee injury in Week 14. However, as fluky as Nick Foles' playoff run might have felt at the time, the truth is, the 2017 Eagles were one of the more dominant title-winning teams of the decade. Along with the 2016 Patriots, these Eagles are the only team to win the Super Bowl and rank in the top five in both scoring offense and scoring defense. They outscored their regular-season opponents by a margin of 10.2 points -- which nearly matches the margin by which they defeated the Pats in one of the more entertaining Super Bowls of the era. [nfl.com]
Have you ever been watching an Eagles game, saw a player do something and said, "Well, that's why he's going to the Hall of Fame when he retires?"
Of course you have — and, apparently, the folks at Pro Football Focus have said the same things. They went through every NFL team and pointed out those team's players that are likely Canton-bound. For the Eagles, they only had one player, but who it was shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
They also had two other categories as well — players who are "on pace" to make it to the Hall of Fame, and players who were "considered but not HOF-worthy as of now" — and the Eagles had players in each of those categories as well.
Here's a look at what they had to say...
If they retire today: Jason Peters
Since 2006, 111 offensive tackles have played at least 3,000 offensive snaps, and among those players, Peters ranks third overall in PFF grade. He has been one of the top tackles in the league for the entirety of the PFF era which spans 13 seasons, always a steady presence on the Eagles’ offensive line. Last season was the first of Peters’ career grading below 70.0 — he received an overall grade of 69.5 — but the fact that he was able to play at such a high level for so long is an impressive feat.
On pace: Fletcher Cox
He came in as the fourth-best player in the entire NFL in the recently concluded PFF50 and deservedly so after racking up 101 quarterback pressures in the regular season and postseason combined. Cox has recorded 90.0-plus overall grades in three of the past four seasons, and he’s only improving, notching a career-high 92.5 overall grade last season. When you’re dominant enough to be considered one of the top five players in the league, you’re doing something right. Fletcher Cox is doing something right and has been for the past several years.
Considered but not HOF-worthy as of now: Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham
Kelce has been tremendous over his career and has come on strong lately, but there are a couple of centers that have beat him out in both overall grade and wins above replacement since he entered the league in 2011, which makes it tough to say he’s Hall of Fame-worthy at this point in his career.
Graham might be a bit of a surprise to be under consideration given his low sack numbers, but a lot of people don’t realize just how disruptive he has been. Since 2010, Graham ranks third in overall grade among qualifying edge defenders behind only Miller and Mack. He falls inside the top five edge defenders in both pass-rush win rate and total pressure rate. [profootballfocus.com]
Fletcher Cox has been getting a lot of love lately, and rightfully so. The Eagles defensive tackle is one of the best and most impactful players in the NFL, and has been so for years. Recently, he was ranked as the fourth-best player in the NFL. And now, NFL.com's Adam Schein has ranked him among his "most indispensable" defensive players in the NFL for the 2019 season.
7) Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
Eternally underrated. Well, not here. This marks the fifth straight year that Cox has held a spot on this list. And for good reason. He wrecks games in so many different ways along that Eagles' defensive line. He's a winner and a true champion who is tough and clutch and makes everyone around him better.
The player sitting atop this list, Aaron Donald, gets all the shine when people discuss DT disruption. Understandable, but unfortunate. Cox is a monster in the middle of Philly's defensive front, fresh off a first-team All-Pro season that saw him log a career-high 10.5 tackles. [nfl.com]
In his continuing quest to find the Eagles' most important player heading into 2019, NJ.com's Zack Rosenblatt recently landed at No. 18, newly-acquired defensive tackle Malik Jackson. With a lot of the attention on Cox, and rightfully so, it will be interesting to see what Jackson can do up front for Jim Schwartz's defense this season.
WHY HE’S IMPORTANT: The Eagles shuffled through a group of defensive tackles who didn’t exactly help ease the workload of Fletcher Cox last season. Whether it was Haloti Ngata, Timmy Jernigan or someone else, Cox was taking on most of the interior workload. He handled that fine of course — he’s probably a future Hall-of-Famer, after all — but he’s never played with someone at the skill level of Jackson ... if he’s playing like he did before 2018. Now, it wasn’t his best season anyway, and he still was better than any non-Cox defensive tackle. He finished with 51 total pressures — identical to his 2017 total in more than 100 less snaps — which ranked ninth among all defensive tackles.
With the Eagles losing Chris Long, the Eagles might even toy with pushing Jackson outside on some downs. If the Eagles defensive line is going to play at a similar level that it did in 2017 on the Super Bowl run, Jackson will play an important part in that. He’s the player that has the ability to take this from a good defensive line into one of the league’s best.
It helps to have Jernigan as a backup now, and that should help reduce Jackson’s workload, but the Eagles’ best defensive line group is one with him on the field. [nj.com]
If you don't remember the Frank Gore era in Philadelphia, then shame on you. But the good news is, the Eagles legend isn't planning on hanging it up any time soon.
Longtime NFL running back Frank Gore, who played with the Miami Hurricanes in college and last season with the Dolphins, still doesn’t have imminent plans of retiring, even at 36 and playing a punishing position.
Gore, now a member of the Buffalo Bills and who ranks fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, will not go into the upcoming season with the idea it’ll be his last.
“I just go how I feel,” said Gore at his football and cheer camp in his hometown neighborhood of Coconut Grove in south Miami-Dade County on Saturday. “If I feel I can’t do it no more, then I call it.” [sun-sentinel.com]
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