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October 27, 2017

Mailbag: Which Eagles players are early Pro Bowl candidates?

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In our weekly Eagles chat, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time, or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Jason: How many Pro Bowlers do you see on the roster right now?

With the disclaimer that the Pro Bowl is dumb and little more than a popularity contest, I would say the following Eagles players should make it.

Carson Wentz: Duh. He's on pace for 4200-plus passing yards, 39 TDs, 9 INTs, and 448 rushing yards. If the season ended today, he'd be the MVP.

Zach Ertz: Ertz is on pace for 89 catches, 1129 yards, and 11 TDs. No-brainer.

Lane Johnson: Right tackles don't often get in, but Johnson absolutely should, seeing as he has a hard assignment every week, and shuts them down. To note, Jason Peters would have been a lock if he weren't lost for the season.

Fletcher Cox: Cox is going to begin getting in on name recognition, but his play is absolutely deserving as well. He has 3.5 sacks despite missing two games, and he is the focus of opposing offensive line schemes week after week.

Those are the four guys I would say got snubbed if they didn't make it.

I would also say the following four players are worthy of strong consideration:

  1. Jason Kelce
  2. Jake Elliott
  3. Brandon Graham
  4. Malcolm Jenkins

Question from Office Linebacker: Do you think that Wentz would be as successful had he actually been drafted by Cleveland?

I think that Philly was a better landing spot for Wentz. The Eagles had a plan for him, and that was to surround him first with a quarterback-focused coaching staff that would get the most out of him, and then this past offseason, to surround him with better weapons.

So if he were in Cleveland, would we be talking about him as a potential MVP candidate? I don't know, but my guess would be no.

That said, had the Browns drafted him, I think they'd be ecstatic with that decision, and I believe he would have already shown that he is a bona fide franchise quarterback. Many have pointed to the notion that the Browns lack talent at the skill positions, and that would have set Wentz up for failure. Uh, are those people forgetting that Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, and Josh Huff were starting games last year, none of whom are still in the league?

Once you have your quarterback in place, it is so much easier to build a team around him, and the Browns led the NFL in salary cap space. I'm pretty sure they could have found some weapons for him.

They sure as hell wouldn't be 0-7 if they had Wentz.

Question from Sgt. Hulka’s Big Toe: Is there any aspect of the Eagles’ success over the first seven games that you do not believe is sustainable over the course of an entire season? 

If I had to pick one, I would say the rate at which they convert third downs. On the season, the Eagles are 50 of 99 (51%) on third downs, which is best in the NFL. No team has finished a season converting more than 50 percent of their third downs since 2011, when the Saints converted a ridiculous 57 percent of them.

I'm not saying they can't keep that up, but it will be very difficult.

Question from bubba: Bigger loss: Peters or Hicks? My vote is Hicks. Also, how does it work when a player gets placed on IR? Are they banished from the facilities or something? There are lots of articles today talking about Peters’ locker room presence being missed. Won’t he still be there if they hoist the trophy?

To answer your first question, Peters is by far the bigger loss. He's been a much better player this year, playing a more important position.

As for Peters' locker room presence, no, he's not banished to some sort of dumpster for broken players. He's allowed in the locker room and can still interact with players, but it's not the same. When we writers refer to "the locker room," we're not literally referring to the area of the building when players shower and get dressed. The players spend a fraction of their days there.

Veterans can help younger players in positional meeting rooms, on the practice field itself, team meetings, and yes, even the locker room too. While hurt, Peters won't be around all day, every day, so I think that's what other writers mean when they say his presence will be missed.

Question from juaniflaco: Do you think they sign a player other than a LB to fill Jordan Hicks' roster spot? They already have six LBs and just promoted Nate Gerry. I would think that maybe TE Billy Brown would be a good candidate.

As it turns out, the Eagles did, in fact, try to add a tight end to their roster, but it was a player on the Cowboys' practice squad, rookie TE Blake Jarwin, who played something of a tight end/fullback role at Oklahoma State. To block the move, the Cowboys were forced to add Jarwin to their 53-man roster instead.

I think that was a smart move for the Eagles to attempt. This season could be Brent Celek's last in Philly, and Trey Burton is an unrestricted free agent. There's a chance that one or both of those guys will need to be replaced, so as long as you have the roster spot, why not try to add a tight end you can try to develop?

After the Eagles' failed attempt to land Jarwin, many wondered why they didn't simply promote Billy Brown. I would imagine they liked Jarwin better, but also if you sign Jarwin, you can have both Jarwin and Brown on your roster to develop.

Also, it would have been fun to call him Jake Blarwin instead of Blake Jarwin. #Analysis. 

Question from Dude: Which unworthy player will get voted into the Hall of Fame instead of Jason Peters in 5 or 6 years?

Eli Manning.

Question from DB: Why no number yet for Taylor Hart? Waiting to get permission from LaJuan Ramsey for 77?

I have several answers to this question:

1) Hart is indeed 77.

2) My God, I'm impressed with your concern for the jersey number of the 53rd guy on the roster. Am I to assume this is dedication to keeping up with your Madden franchise?

3) Way back in the day, like 10 years ago, I was looking to rent a house in Cherry Hill. There was one I wanted, but the real estate agent told me that she was waiting on an answer from one of the Eagles' players for the same house. Turns out it was LaJuan Ramsey. Apparently, Brian Dawkins lived like three or four houses down and was trying to help Ramsey out. 

Wait, what? Brian Dawkins lives a few houses down?!? We could have cookouts! I'll even go to church with him! Now I really wanted the house, obviously, and I knew that there was a strong possibility Ramsey wasn't making the team that year, but I didn't tell the agent that in an effort to get the house for myself.

Ramsey ended up taking the house, got cut a couple months later, and I didn't get to be best friends with Dawkins. Everyone lost, especially Dawk.


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