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November 03, 2022

Mailbag: Ranking the Eagles' biggest threats in the NFC

Eagles NFL
110222JimmyGaroppolo Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys and 49ers may be the Eagles' biggest threats in the NFC.

Earlier this week we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter. Let's just get right to it.

Question from @BaliFritz: Of the trifecta of underperforming perennial winners, who should we fear most to turn it around and make a late run? The Packers, Buccaneers, or Rams? Rank the NFC's challengers to the Eagles. Is Dallas really the second best?

I'll do the top 8.

  1. Cowboys: Dallas' offensive line has played better than I anticipated after losing Tyron Smith. That's probably been the most under-discussed reason for their success this season after losing Dak Prescott for a month-plus. They can mash in the run game, and obviously their defense has often been very good.
  2. 49ers: The Niners are good along the lines, which would neutralize the Eagles' typical dominance in the trenches to some degree, and their skill players are beasts after the catch, which isn't ideal against an Eagles defense that has struggled tackling at times. But that quarterback...
  3. Buccaneers: I view Tom Brady in a similar way to Michael Jordan, from a competitive perspective. He's no doubt going through some stressful times at the moment, but I have more faith in them figuring things out than the Packers or Rams.
  4. Packers: The Packers are too far behind the Eagles to challenge them for seeding purposes, and as we see every year they fail in the playoffs.
  5. Vikings: The Vikings are better than the team that the Eagles manhandled Week 2, but the Eagles still proved in that game that they simply have a lot more talent, and they match up well against the strengths of that team, namely Justin Jefferson.
  6. Seahawks: Seattle has a bunch of rookies who are playing really well, which will help speed up their rebuild. They're also getting stellar play out of Geno Smith, but how long can that last?
  7. Rams: Matthew Stafford still doesn't look right, but even if he did they're not going anywhere with their injury-decimated offensive line.
  8. Giants: Their next two games are at home against the Texans and Lions, so they should get to 8-2. If so, we can probably move them up a bit. But their roster is still probably a couple years away. I'm curious to see how the Eagles-Giants games go later this season, probably more so than any of the Eagles' other opponents. Can the Eagles bury them early, like they have with so many other times this season?

And then the following teams are not a threat at all: Commanders, Falcons, Saints, Cardinals, Bears, Panthers, Lions.

Question from @MKTWgoldstein: Is there a case that A.J. Brown, not Jalen Hurts, should be the team's candidate for MVP? After all, it's more or less the same offense as last year, and now it's far more effective. I get that it's a QB league, but Brown is just so dominant.

I think that even if the Eagles had not traded for Brown and instead acquired some other receiver, like they almost did with guys like Christian Kirk, Allen Robinson, Calvin Ridley (if he hadn't been suspended), etc., we'd still see marked improvement out of Hurts this season. They'd still very likely have a good record, and it would be obvious that Hurts had made significant strides forward as an NFL franchise type of quarterback.

That said, there's no question that Brown has aided Hurts in playing at his MVP-like level this season. Why not both?

Question from @phteven1024: Most likely winner: Hurts for MVP, Nick Sirianni for Coach of the Year, or Howie Roseman for Executive of the Year?

Ooh, I like this one. They're all certainly deserving of consideration. I'll leave this one to the readers.

Question from @zteutsch: The Eagles have a ton of free agents this coming offseason. Do you think the vibes are good enough to get guys to take less money to stay?

I think that applies maybe to guys who have been with the team for a long time and are entrenched in the Philly area, like Jason Kelce or Brandon Graham if they don't retire, or perhaps Fletcher Cox.

The rest are more likely to seek a big payday, and I certainly don't blame them. The Eagles have a lot of players scheduled to become free agents who have not yet earned a lucrative second contract, like Miles Sanders, T.J. Edwards, Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps, Gardner Minshew, and Andre Dillard. They're all no doubt looking forward to cashing in.

NFL players have a small window to maximize their earnings and set themselves and their families up for life. The majority of them never get a good second contract. If it's a tie, or close enough, then sure, I do think there's some appeal to playing for a team likely to win, and not having to uproot to a new city. But ultimately, in my experience, here's the order of priority:

1) Money


2) Everything else

Question from @JosephForrest: How long will the QB sneak dominance last? Is there anything the defense can do?

The Eagles have simply physically dominated opposing defensive lines on sneaks, and Hurts has developed a knack for powering forward on those plays. It'll be hard for teams to stop.

I do think the Eagles should run some wrinkles off of the sneaks to keep defenses honest going forward, like they did on a pitch to the outside to Miles Sanders against the Steelers.

Question from @MattGrumbrecht: If you could add one non-QB from the league to this Eagles team (pretend cost is irrelevant) who would you add?

Myles Garrett.

Question from @TheReason540: Would any free agent running backs make sense?


Question from @Whatsamattau3: Can you compare previous feasting meter predictions to actual feasting results of the game?


Week 1: Lions: 4 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: Only one sack and the defense gave up 35 points, though Marlon Tuipulotu hit Jared Goff leading to a James Bradberry pick-six. I'll say four was about right.

Week 2: Vikings: 3 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: Only two sacks, but they harassed Kirk Cousins into bad throws all night. They over-feasted.

Week 3: Commanders: 7 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: They sacked Wentz nine times and forced a bunch of fumbles. They over-feasted. This was a 10/10 feasting.

Week 4: Jaguars: 6 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: 4 sacks, 5 turnovers. Over-feasted.

Week 5: Cardinals: 5 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: I thought the Eagles did a nice job containing Kyler Murray in the pocket, but with only 1 sack and 2 QB hits, there wasn't a lot of feasting. We'll call this an under-feasting.

Week 6: Cowboys: 6 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: Pressure on Cooper Rush helped lead to three INTs, but they didn't have any sacks. Tough call here. I think they feasted in this game more than the stat sheet would indicate, but we'll still call this an under-feasting.

Week 8: Steelers: 8 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: The Eagles had 6 sacks, plus one that got negated by a penalty, and many of them were big hits on Kenny Pickett. I think 8 turkey legs was about right, though there's also an argument that they over-feasted.

Week 9: Texans: 6 turkey legs 🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗🍗

Verdict: TBD.

Question from @Yoshke Zoidberg: Is Howie Roseman the most well known GM in the NFL?

Jerry Jones is the most recognizable NFL general manager by a mile, and then if we're calling Bill Belichick the Patriots' GM (even if someone else holds that title), then him, too.

But of the pure general managers that aren't also an owner or a head coach, I think that if you were to ask the common fan to name every teams' general manager, the two that people would most commonly answer correctly would be Roseman and John Lynch.

Question from @WifiWillis: Should the Eagles sign DT Trysten Hill who was waived by Dallas, with Jordan Davis on IR?

They should not. I think they still have nice depth in Marlon Tuipulotu and Milton Williams, and I'd like to see Big Marv (Marvin Wilson) get an opportunity to show what he can do in a real game.

Question from @BillH_BillHPhotos: Any chance the Eagles elevate Devon Allen to upgrade the kick/punt return coverage? Also is Allen an option at returning kicks?

Allen would probably have more juice than Britain Covey, but I think that this season they're just willing to settle for someone who will field kicks and punts without fumbling, with less of a priority on actually producing big returns. I think the Eagles are fine with putting the burden of scoring points on the offense.

Question from @lawlornfl: If the Eagles were a Halloween candy, what would they be and why?

I'm going to say Skittles. The traditional bag of Skittles has strawberry, lime, grape, lemon and orange. Individually, they're all good, with no weak links. Even the lemon ones work, whereas other lemon offerings — like lemon Starbursts, for example — fall short.

Similarly, it's hard to find weaknesses on this Eagles' roster. We can quibble about safety depth or punt returners, but the reality is that 31 other teams around the league would love for such things to be their biggest concern. 

They can also beat you in a variety of ways, whether that's via shootout, a slobberknocker in the rain, an eight-minute drive to seal a win in the fourth quarter, etc. Skittles has other offerings, like Wild Berry Skittles, Sour Skittles, Tropical Skittles (if that's your thing), that are all good. When other candies try to divert from their original form — like those gross Tootsie Fruit Chews, for example — they often fail miserably.

There are also chemistry similarities. As mentioned above, individual Skittles hold up on their own, however, I think they're at their best when you just grab a handful, throw them in your mouth, and let them mix. The flavors complement each other beautifully, and each handful is its own experience. The Eagles as a team are gelling, personality-wise, and they get along together much the same way as a handful of Skittles.

And finally, I think the Eagles have exhibited a willingness to admit mistakes and learn from them, even if it takes them some time to get there. When Skittles made the mistake of switching from lime to green apple, they stuck with that misstep for around eight years before finally going back to lime. They were stubborn for a bit, but eventually realized the error of their ways and learned from it.

Yes, I put a lot of thought into this.

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