Eagles

Eagles now forced to depend on Carson Wentz even more

Eagles now forced to depend on Carson Wentz even more

It's hard to imagine tougher losses coming from such a big win. 

Jason Peters is out for the season. So is Jordan Hicks. 

And just like that, there are two more incredibly important players added to the list of incredibly important players lost for the year. 

At the beginning of the season, had someone made a list of players the Eagles couldn't afford to lose, there's a good chance several of these names would be on it.  

Two of five team captains — Peters and Chris Maragos — are gone. So is their stud middle linebacker and defensive quarterback, Hicks. And don't forget about their most versatile offensive weapon, Darren Sproles. 

"When you look at the injury list and the guys that we've lost ... guys that are significant starters and role players and leaders on your football team, captains on your football team, it can make an impact," head coach Doug Pederson said. 

The Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 6-1, but they'll have to go the rest of the way without several of their most crucial pieces and most-respected leaders. 

But they haven't lost their most important piece. 

They still have Carson Wentz. 

And if he keeps up his torrid pace, he's going to mask these losses to injury. 

Wentz isn't just playing well; he's playing at an MVP level. If that continues, the Eagles still have a great chance to coast into the playoffs and then make something special happen as one of the top seeds. 

"You want everybody to play well, obviously," Pederson said, "and if your quarterback is playing well, then yeah, you definitely have a better opportunity and a better chance of winning that game." 

That's not to say losing Peters and Hicks won't hurt. It absolutely will. The Eagles just have no choice but to soldier on. Things felt a little gloomy briefly on Tuesday afternoon when Pederson announced the bad injury news, but he also seemed optimistic about his team's chances of overcoming. 

The Eagles have shown resiliency already this season, continuing their success without key players. "Next man up" has become an overused cliché but it has also served as a rallying cry for the 2017 Eagles. 

Halapoulivaati Vaitai will fill in for Peters. Joe Walker and/or Najee Goode will fill in for Hicks. And the Eagles will face the 49ers on Sunday and the Broncos on the Sunday after that. 

"It's going to take everybody," Pederson said. "It's all hands on deck." 

That's true, of course. To say all the Eagles need is Wentz would be oversimplifying and simply not the case. They need other players to perform as well. 

But on Wednesday, when the team runs back onto the practice fields, No. 11 will be leading the way. 

As long as that's the case, this team might be able to overcome anything. 

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Mack Hollins
Roob: Hollins wasn't really a factor later in the season, once Torrey Smith got going, but he did show early in the year what kind of player he can be, notably with that 64-yard TD catch in the second Redskins game. Depending on what the Eagles do about Smith, Hollins should be either the Eagles' third or fourth receiver this fall. Either way, he'll be here, and I expect him to make a big jump in Year 2.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Hollins caught just 16 passes as a rookie and it seemed like he just never started producing the way he seems capable of. Even when Smith struggled, Hollins got more playing time and didn't produce. The good news is he's still young and plays a role on special teams. The Eagles will probably bolster their receiving corps in some way, but if they don't, Hollins will have a shot at starting if Smith is gone next season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alshon Jeffery
Roob: Jeffery really played better than his stats this year. He made every big catch, caught every big third-down pass, made huge plays in the end zone. Jeffery was a star receiver without a star receiver's stats. His unselfish attitude carried over to the rest of the receivers and throughout the roster. And he did it all with a rotator cuff injury that required post-season surgery. Can't wait to see what Alshon can do healthy.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jeffery didn't put up eye-popping numbers during the regular season, but if you needed any proof he's a No. 1 receiver, go back and watch Super Bowl LII, when he made that ridiculous catch in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The good thing about Jeffery is he really doesn't care at all about his numbers. There are a lot of diva receivers in the NFL, but Jeffery clearly isn't one of them. All he cared about last year was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and he certainly helped get the Eagles there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Roob: Jenkins has so many roles on and off the field — community activist, NFLPA organizer, locker room leader — it's easy to forget just how good a player he is. Jenkins has been here four years and has had four very solid, very consistent, very productive seasons. He made his second Pro Bowl this year and joined Bill Bradley (3) and Dawk (7) as only the third Eagles safety since 1960 to make multiple Pro Bowls. Jenkins is signed to a cap-friendly deal through 2020 and should be an Eagle for many years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As important as Jenkins is to the Eagles as a safety and defensive back, you could make a legitimate argument that he's even more important to the team as a leader and man. There's a reason he became the guy to follow up Doug Pederson's postgame speeches. He isn't just the leader of the defense; he's the leader of the entire team. And on the field, he's still playing at a really high, Pro Bowl caliber level. He's 30 now but is still signed through 2020 and maybe outside of Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most important defensive player. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Darrell Greene
Roob: The Hall of Fame cornerback is now 58 years old and 21 years removed from his last Pro Bowl season with the Redskins. Oh wait … wrong Darrell Green. This is Darrell GREENE, and he's a 6-foot-3, 320-pound guard out of San Diego State who's been on the Eagles' practice squad most of the last two years. The Eagles liked Greene enough to keep him around the last couple years, and unless they see something in Chance Warmack that I missed, Greene has a chance to stick around as a young O-line prospect.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Greene has been around now for the last two seasons. He was without a team for most of 2017; the Eagles didn't bring him back to the practice squad until December. The offensive guard had some real potential coming out of San Diego State, and the Eagles paid him a lot of guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent before 2016. But he's never really impressed them enough to stick around for good. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Roob: With Hicks, it's always about durability, not ability. Hicks has played more than half a season only once in his three NFL seasons, and since he's under contract for 2018 with a modest $2.068 million cap figure, he's obviously not going anywhere. The question is what the Eagles do with him after 2018 when he's due to become a free agent. Hicks can play. We all know that. He needs to prove this year that he can stay healthy in order to get a big-money deal a year from now.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Losing Hicks was a problem in 2017 and his absence started showing up late in the season. He's a big-time playmaker. It's a shame he got hurt last year because if he didn't, he'd be in line for a payday. For now, he'll be back in the final year of his four-year rookie contract until he can prove he's the same player he was pre-injury. 

Verdict: STAYS

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Roob: Grugier-Hill must be Howie Roseman's dream. He's signed at the minimum through 2019 but is an awfully valuable member of the roster — a reserve linebacker and emergency kicker and maybe the team's best special teamer. Kamu's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He really doesn't play at all as a linebacker, but Grugier-Hill has become one of the best special teams players in the NFL and had a real chance to be named a Pro Bowler in 2017. He led the team in special teams tackles with 19 last season. He's still young, cheap and is a big part of Dave Fipp's group. 

Verdict: STAYS