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June 29, 2017

What they’re saying: The Eagles have the best offensive line in the NFL?

When you would ask random Eagles fans who has the best offensive line in the NFC East, most would honestly say that it belongs to the Dallas Cowboys. Heck, I would.

Not Pro Football Focus, though. Using their grading system, the division’s best offensive line belongs to none other than your Philadelphia Eagles. And believe it or not, the Eagles rank first in the entire NFL:

Out of all the offensive lines in the NFL, the Eagles currently have the fewest holes. Their biggest question mark heading into 2017 is center Jason Kelce, who is a former PFF All-Pro (2013) in his own right. They also have dominant players like Lane Johnson, who was the best right tackle in the NFL a season ago when on the field.

I probably wouldn’t go that far, but the Eagles offensive line has both a lot of talent and depth as long as the two tackles can stay healthy and not suspended. If the Eagles are going to make any sort of noise this season, the offensive line will need to be a strength.

Eagles news and coverage at PhillyVoice

1.    DUMPSTER FIRES: In what is easily our most popular running series of the year, Jimmy takes a look at why the Cowboys, Giants, and WASTEAM are going to stink this upcoming season. Many of their fans were mad online. Don’t worry, Eagles fans, we’re getting to you today.

2.    Chip talks Birds: As it turns out, Chip Kelly wasn’t all that close to trading ALL of the Eagles draft picks for Marcus Mariota.

3.    Stay off the shelf! Among the ten players on the Eagles roster that they can least afford to lose to injury, you’re *never going to believe who number one is (*you’ll totally believe it).

4.    The Unimpressives: One of the Eagles draft picks is among the players that failed to show much during spring practices.

Other Eagles news, notes and analysis from around the web

Ranking NFL rosters from 1-32: Pro Football Focus, ESPN Insider

The PFF crew looked at every roster, and the Eagles depth chart finished 15th in the NFL rankings, just ahead of the Giants and WASTEAM. The quarterback was representative of the team grade:

Over the first five weeks of the 2016 season, rookie Carson Wentz was the second-highest-graded quarterback, trailing only Derek Carr. From Week 6 onward, however, he ranked 30th. He had a 32.8 passer rating when under pressure in 2016.

Football Outsiders' 30 best NFL defenses of the past 30 years: Aaron Schatz, ESPN Insider

This was awesome. Ask any Eagles fan that lived through the Buddy Ryan era and they will swear to you that despite the fact they never won anything, those defenses were some of the best of all-time. Well, by FO’s metrics, Buddy’s defense (the year after he left, but still) ranks as the best one since 1987.

The Eagles didn’t even make the playoffs that season because Randall Cunningham got injured in the first game and the offense was toast. But by FO’s numbers, the 1991 Birds defense was the best:

Opposing quarterbacks completed just 44.1 percent of passes, the lowest rate for any defense since 1978. They led the NFL with 55 sacks and 43 forced fumbles. They finished third with 26 interceptions. And the defense wasn't one-dimensional: The Eagles allowed just 2.97 yards per carry on the ground, which ranks fifth since 1978. They put up these obscene numbers in standard stats despite playing the fourth-toughest defensive schedule in the league. Their division rivals finished first (Washington), fourth (Dallas) and sixth (New York) in offensive DVOA.

Source: Eagles RB LeGarrette Blount has $50K weight incentive: Tim McManus, ESPN

In some current Eagles news, Eddie Lacy isn’t apparently the only NFL running back with a weight clause:

When Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount hops on the scale in late July, a good chunk of change will be on the line. According to ESPN's Field Yates, Blount can earn $50,000 if he weighs between 240-250 pounds on the team's reporting day for training camp.

NFL Head Coach Power Rankings: Elliot Harrison,

Dougie P comes in at 25th:

Although Pederson falls below Hue Jackson (who has more experience and was an outstanding offensive coordinator in Cincinnati) in these rankings, don't take that as a harsh judgment on the relatively new head coach. Underneath that gnarly, salty visor lies Philly's best hope for a potential NFC East takeover. Pederson's greatest asset is the wisdom he can impart on former No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz. The coach's decade-plus of experience playing in the NFL puts him in a unique position to help Wentz take the next step.

More on the Defense and Numbers: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

The Eagles defense was the team’s strength last season, but Lawlor is looking for ways that unit can improve:

The Eagles defense was odd in 2016. It dominated the Steelers and Falcons, two dynamic offenses. The Eagles only gave up 30 or more points once all year. That’s tough to do in today’s NFL. As a point of comparison., Seattle gave up 30 or more twice in the regular season.

The flip side is that the Eagles lost five straight games and gave up 26 or more points in every one of those games. And that was with playoff hopes hanging in the balance. Cincy put up 46 points over a 3-game stretch and then scored 32 against the Eagles. There were times when the Eagles struggled against both the run and the pass. There were a couple of blown leads.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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