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May 15, 2017

What they’re saying about the Eagles: The NFC East is the strongest division in the NFL

Football isn’t baseball or even basketball in terms of how much analytics and advanced statistics can help explain the game. With the amount of moving parts on the All-22 tape, it’s hard to quantify how much of an effect each player has on the game.

That’s why I like Football Outsiders, who focus trying to quantify the team (Eagles), team units (Eagles offense), or aspects of team units (Eagles pass offense). It’s certainly not perfect, but staying on the broader level seems more doable than giving a pulling guard a PLUS-ONE on a 20-yard gain, even if I respect the film work that goes into assigning such a grade.

Writing for ESPN Insider, Football Outsiders chief Aaron Schatz has the Eagles projected at 7-9 on the season, but not because he believes the Birds are a bad team. It more has to do with Football Outsiders being extremely high on the NFC East as a whole:

Last year, all four NFC East teams finished in the DVOA top 10, and this again looks like the strongest division in the NFL. Our projections are a little lower for Washington and Philadelphia in 2017, but the entire division still comes out as above-average in mean projected DVOA. The problem isn't just these teams beating up on each other for six games -- the NFC East also draws the two West divisions, which means facing many of the league's top defenses. Right now in the NFC East, it isn't good enough to be good. You need to be great. With an easier schedule, an NFC South or West team doesn't have to play as well as an NFC East team to make the postseason as a wild card.

For what it’s worth, Football Outsiders also projects that Eagles’ fourth-place schedule as the most difficult in the NFL. So yeah, that kind of stinks.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.    Mailbag: How far are the Eagles away from being Super Bowl contenders?

2.    Kiper: TODDTODDTODDTODDTODD, I really like this Tyler Orlosky kid from West Virginia.

3.    Running start: A sneak preview of the 2018 RB draft class

4.    Ducats! Eagles single-game tickets on sale tomorrow

Other Eagles news, notes and analysis from around the web

Reflecting on the Draft: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

Lawlor doesn’t feel like handing an instant grade out for the Eagles draft class, but he likes that they were able to upgrade the wide receiver corps:

Think about the offense. The Eagles had arguably the worst WR corps in the league last year. They added a big, fast WR in Mack Hollins who can get deep and deliver big plays. That was his specialty in college. They also added a WR with explosive speed. Shelton Gibson can fly by CBs. He also can catch short passes and turn them into big plays. I love the double-dip. Don’t get one WR and consider the problem solved. Go get multiple players.

When you have a weak spot like the Eagles did at WR in 2016, you don’t fix it with one guy. You want to spend multiple resources to upgrade the unit. Jeffery, Smith, Hollins and Gibson do that. WR is much better now than it was.

Monday Morning Quarterback: Peter King, The MMQB

It certainly sounds like Peter King trusts the process:

I think I love the Sidney Jones pick by the Eagles. Jones is the physical cover corner from Washington drafted by the Eagles with the 43rd overall pick (and the Eagle fans at the draft impressed me with their wild cheering for the pick) … despite tearing his Achilles at his pro day March 11. Such an injury is probably a six-month rehab and recovery, at least, meaning Jones might be able to play early in the season. The Eagles aren’t putting any pressure on Jones. But my view is even if he couldn’t play at all (or well) this year, this is a good value pick for the long term. Jones is only 20, and he would likely have gone between 10 and 17 in the first round had he not been hurt.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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