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February 03, 2023

Mailbag: Could the Eagles or Chiefs become the NFL's next dynasty?

Will the Super Bowl combatants have longevity and be good for a long time?

Eagles NFL
020323JalenHurts Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts

Earlier this week, we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This is Part I of what will be a two-part mailbag.

Question from @avoidthenoid: Is either team approaching dynasty territory with their second win within the last 6 Super Bowls?

The Chiefs have made the playoffs every year since 2015. Their playoff results since then:

Year Chiefs recent playoff results 
2015 • Won wildcard round vs. Texans (30-0)
• Lost divisional round vs. Patriots (20-27) 
2016 • Lost divisional round vs. Steelers (16-18) 
2017 • Lost wildcard round vs. Titans (21-22) 
2018  • Won divisional round vs. Colts (31-13)
• Lost AFC Championship Game to Patriots (31-37, OT)
2019 • Won divisional round vs. Texans (51-31)
• Won AFC Championship Game vs. Titans (35-24)
• Won Super Bowl vs. 49ers (31-20) 
2020 • Won divisional round vs. Browns (22-17)
• Won AFC Championship Game vs. Bills (38-24)
• Lost Super Bowl vs. Buccaneers (9-31) 
2021 • Won wildcard round vs. Steelers (42-21)
• Won divisional round vs. Bills (42-36, OT)
• Lost AFC Championship Game vs. Bengals (24-27, OT)
 2022 • Won divisional round vs. Jaguars (27-20)
• Won AFC Championship Game vs. Bengals (23-20)
• Super Bowl vs. Eagles TBD 

They were a good team even before Patrick Mahomes proved to be a generational talent. Since Mahomes became the starter in 2018 and brought them to the next level, the Chiefs have at least been in the AFC Championship Game every year, with three Super Bowl appearances (one of those pending), and one Super Bowl win.

The Eagles' recent playoff history looks like this:

Year Eagles recent playoff results 
2017 • Won divisional round vs. Falcons (15-10)
• Won NFC Championship Game vs. 49ers (38-7)
• Won Super Bowl vs. Patriots (41-33) 
2018  • Won wildcard round vs. Bears (16-15)
• Lost divisional round vs. Saints (14-20)
2019 • Lost wildcard round vs. Seahawks (9-17)
2020 No playoffs 
2021 • Lost wildcard round vs. Buccaneers (15-31)
 2022  • Won divisional round vs. Giants (38-7)
• Won NFC Championship Game vs. 49ers (31-7)
• Super Bowl vs. Chiefs TBD 

The tale of the tape, since 2017:

 Playoffs, since 2017*Chiefs Eagles 
Playoff games 14 10 
Playoff wins 10 
NFC/AFC Championship Game appearances 
Super Bowl appearances 3* 2* 
Super Bowl wins 
*Including Super Bowl LVII, not yet played.

If the Chiefs win this Super Bowl, I think we can start thinking of them as a budding dynasty. They have the better résumé, and they're going to be Super Bowl contenders for the foreseeable future with Mahomes and Andy Reid in place. 

In the Eagles' case, there's plenty to be excited about with Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni, but they'll still have to prove that they're not like the Giants team that won Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011, but could not sustain that success long-term.

Question from KurtBSH: Who retires off into the sunset if the Eagles win another Super Bowl? Jason Kelce is obvious, but I'm not as sure about the other ‘17-18 holdovers. And Jeff Stoutland also feels like a possibility.

The only players still on the roster from the last Super Bowl were Kelce, Lane Johnson, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Isaac Seumalo, Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato, and Derek Barnett (who is on IR and won't play). And then there's Greg Ward, who was on the practice squad for the last Super Bowl, played in games in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and is back on the practice squad in 2022.

I would rank the players most likely to retire in the following order:

  1. Jason Kelce: He's still the best in the world at what he does, and has shown no signs of regression. If anything, he keeps getting better. It's hard to walk away from that.
  2. Brandon Graham: Graham said he's not going to retire after the Super Bowl. He had his best statistical year in 2022 despite playing 43 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps.
  3. Fletcher Cox: Cox isn't the elite player he once was, but he's still very much a quality starter, and unlikely to retire.
  4. Lane Johnson: Johnson said in October that he wants to maybe play two more years after this season, and he reaffirmed that after the NFC Championship Game.

It's quite possible that none of them retire. We'll see. As for a potential Stoutland retirement, that would be a pretty big surprise, in my opinion. That dude loves coaching offensive linemen, and he's not really that old. He'll turn 61 in a week.

Question from RoniRivera34: How are the Eagles going to make Hurts more comfortable in the pocket? Last week looked like a step back, like last year. How will they establish a rhythm?

I'll respectfully disagree that he took a step back on Sunday. His stat line wasn't very impressive, but part of that was because the Eagles' offense didn't try to do much more than keep the clock running in the second half against a team that had no chance of mounting a comeback with no quarterback.

I do think we've seen a different version of Hurts since he returned from injury. In my opinion, his accuracy hasn't been as on point as it was the first three months of the season, and he hasn't thrown with the same power on shots deeper down the field. And then obviously he was not really a threat to run at all in his first game back Week 18 against the Giants. But there has been progressive improvement in those areas the further away we have gotten from his injury. 

The following is a video by former NFL quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan on Hurts' game against the 49ers, which points out some of the good, and some of areas that need improvement. These videos are really good:

While he is not yet the same player he was when he was having an MVP type season, he is still a lot better than he was a year ago, and now he'll have a extra time to treat his shoulder in the leadup to the Super Bowl.

Question from @TheReason540: If a defensive player won MVP who would have the best chance, with matchups considered?

Defensive players have only won Super Bowl MVP nine times. They were (in reverse chronological order):

  1. Von Miller, Broncos
  2. Malcolm Smith, Seahawks
  3. Dexter Jackson, Buccaneers
  4. Ray Lewis, Ravens (he had 5 tackles, lol)
  5. Larry Brown, Cowboys
  6. Richard Dent, Bears
  7. Harvey Martin and Randy White, Cowboys
  8. Jake Scott, Dolphins
  9. Chuck Howley, Cowboys

So it has only happened in 16 percent of Super Bowls. I think the obvious answer here is Haason Reddick, who would have been the MVP of the NFC Championship Game if they gave out such an award. He's red hot (9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles in the last six games), and I like his matchup against Chiefs RT Andrew Wylie. If we're looking at the Chiefs, the obvious answer is their Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Chris Jones, though I believe the Eagles are better equipped to block Jones than the Chiefs are equipped to block Reddick.

Question from RHamberger14: Is Reed Blankenship a starter next year and do you see him as a potential long term piece?

I'm sure the Eagles would like to keep soon-to-be free agents Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps, but I don't know how possible that will be. Gardner-Johnson will be the priority. To be determined what kind of market will develop for him. If they're able to keep Gardner-Johnson, and Epps leaves in free agency, I don't think there would be much or a dropoff (if any) from Epps to Blankenship. His solid play down the stretch made the Eagles' offseason at safety less concerning.

Question from WtfWtf2020: Why is Gainwell suddenly looking like one of our best weapons? I love it when players come up big at playoff time.

After DeVonta Smith, I thought Gainwell was the Eagles' best pick in the 2021 draft (at the time) because of the value they got in him in the fifth round. I even comped him to the Chargers' Austin Ekeler. And then he was pretty disappointing for the better part of his first two seasons, but the light seems to have gone on for him. Good for Gainwell for continuing to get better, and credit the Eagles' staff for continuing to believe in him and putting him on the field.

I don't think Gainwell should be counted on as a three-down back quite yet, but he played well enough down the stretch where he maybe relieved some concerns about the running back position should Miles Sanders leave in free agency. 

Question from @CorkballOne: Would you block Haason Reddick with a tight end?

I'll tell you what I wouldn't do, my friend. If I tried to block him with a tight end and he knocked my quarterback out of the game while also causing a sack-fumble, I probably wouldn't try it again on the very next possession, just to watch him sack my backup and end that drive as well. And then I sure as hell wouldn't get all smug and smirky and dismissive after the game when a reporter asks the same question you just asked. 

Question from @lawlornfl: Do you feel the Eagles have been exposed as only being able to beat fourth string QBs? If so, is it time to start the rebuilding process?

I'm not so sure we can even assume they can beat fourth string quarterbacks. We'll never know if the Eagles would have beaten the 49ers if Josh Johnson hadn't gotten hurt. The Niners probably would have won by three scores if Johnson stayed in, in my opinion.

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