The700Level

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles remain at the top ... for the most part

ap-eagles-brandon-graham.jpg
AP Images

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles remain at the top ... for the most part

The Eagles continued their homestand at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday in a matchup against the winless San Francisco 49ers.

The Birds used a four-sack performance from the defense in a downpour to defeat the Niners, 33-10.

The victory over the 49ers puts the Eagles at 7-1. They still hold the best record in the NFL and a 2.5-game lead in the NFC East over the Cowboys, who sit at 4-3.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to the Denver Broncos, who are coming off of an embarrassing 29-19 loss to the Chiefs on Monday night.

Before the Birds host a reeling Broncos team on Sunday afternoon, here's a roundup of where the Eagles landed in this week's national power rankings:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Stayed at No. 1
Florio wrote, “If the Dolphins were trying to send a message to Jay Ajayi by trading him to the best team in football, he’s probably not upset about receiving it.”

As the trade deadline ticked down on Tuesday, the Eagles were one of a couple of teams who made some big moves. The Eagles traded a fourth-round pick to the Dolphins for running back Ajayi (see story). Although he has struggled this season behind a horrid offensive line, Ajayi is a solid tailback to add to the Birds' backfield. A big concern through this process has been Ajayi’s attitude and his knees. Only time will tell if he can be a valuable asset in Philadelphia.

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison: Stayed at No. 1
Harrison wrote, “The Eagles are playing solid ball on offense, defense and even made some hay on special teams Sunday. Perhaps most importantly, Philadelphia did what good teams are supposed to do against weak opponents, especially at home: win decisively.”

The Eagles started slowly against the 49ers on Sunday but found their footing in the rain and mud to win by 23 points at the Linc. The Birds sacked 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard four times and he spent a good amount of time on the ground. The Eagles possess the best rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 70.4 yards per game. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, leading to a healthy amount of turnovers.

USA TODAY: Stayed at No. 1
USA TODAY wrote, “Lost amid Carson Wentz hoopla is the defense coming off its best performance of the season and run game that features four players with 130-plus yards … and, now, Jay Ajayi?”

This season, Ajayi has rushed for 465 yards on 138 carries, a 3.4-yard average. Miami’s offensive line has not been good and the team has been playing from behind in most games. Ajayi was a bell cow back for the Dolphins, averaging 19.7 carries per game and a total of 152 touches thus far. Ajayi doesn’t need to be the main guy for the Eagles. He just needs to make the most of his opportunities. I think 12 to 15 touches a game is realistic for Ajayi. He is also good in pass protection.

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Stayed at No. 1
Schwab wrote, “With how well Carson Wentz has played, it’s surprising Alshon Jeffery has been so quiet. If Jeffery plays like the true difference maker he has been in the past, the Eagles get a lot better. And they’re already pretty good.”

Jeffery has been relatively quiet this season. Catching 28 balls for 416 yards isn’t the end of the world but it wasn’t what Eagles fans expected after he signed in the offseason. Wentz loves to spread it around and he likes to target Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor in the red zone. Better days are ahead for Jeffery but don’t expect huge games moving forward.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: Stayed at No. 1
Prisco wrote, “They have a quarterback and pass rushers. That's usually a good combination. They are rolling.”

Wentz probably had his worst game of the season against the 49ers, completing only 56 percent of his passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The conditions were horrible so he was able to get away with it but he was missing receivers long quite a bit. He should be able to rebound next week.

The Washington Post's Mark Maske: Stayed at No. 2
Maske wrote, “Prevailing at home against the winless Niners was not exactly a major accomplishment. But beating the teams you should beat is part of the equation for being good in the NFL. The Eagles are the NFC’s Super Bowl front-runner.”

Maske still feels the Eagles ride second fiddle to the Patriots and I still don’t get it. The Patriots struggled to move the ball against the Chargers and Los Angeles had a chance to tie on the last play. I don’t see how you can continue to put the Patriots above the Eagles outside of the fact that they have won multiple Super Bowls. At this point, there is no reason to say the Eagles aren’t the best team in the NFL right now.

ESPN: Up one spot to No. 1
ESPN wrote, “The Eagles own the NFL's best record right now, but will that last once the schedule toughens up? The Eagles have played the third-easiest schedule and have big tests against the Broncos, Cowboys, Seahawks and Rams coming up.”

Unlike Maske, ESPN finally came to its senses. The Eagles do have a tough upcoming schedule as they play Denver, Dallas, Seattle and the Rams. The Broncos shouldn’t scare the Birds at all. They have lost their last three and can’t score. They also don’t have a competent starting quarterback right now.

Our first glimpse of Brian Dawkins’ Hall of Fame bust

ap-dawkins-bicep.jpg
AP Images

Our first glimpse of Brian Dawkins’ Hall of Fame bust

It won’t be long until Eagles fans turn Canton, Ohio, into a sea of green this summer. 

That’s when Eagles all-time great and fan favorite Brian Dawkins will be officially enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Class of 2018 also includes Terrell Owens, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher. 

Here’s our first look at Dawkins’ bust, which will eventually find a permanent home in Canton. 

 

The 2018 class will be enshrined on Aug. 4 in Canton at 7 p.m. Dawkins previously announced that his teammate Troy Vincent will present him for the Hall of Fame. 

While players don’t go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of a specific team, Dawkins spent the majority of his career with the Eagles and is arguably the most popular Eagle of all time after making seven of his nine Pro Bowl appearances with the Birds. He now works in the Eagles’ scouting department. 

It won’t be long before the finished bust is presented to the football world. 

Don't write off Eagles RB Donnel Pumphrey quite yet

Don't write off Eagles RB Donnel Pumphrey quite yet

The Eagles don’t hit the practice field as a team for another five weeks, yet each year coaches point to players who distinguish themselves during the months of April and May. These are the players with the most to gain in phases one and two of OTAs.

Before he ever suited up in an Eagles uniform, Donnel Pumphrey had his fair share of doubters. Measuring 5-foot-8, 176 pounds and able to perform just five reps in the bench press at last year’s scouting combine, many questioned whether a running back with such a slight build could survive in the NFL.

Preseason football certainly didn’t convince anybody otherwise. To the contrary, games raised even more concerns.

Despite becoming the all-time NCAA Division I FBS leader in rushing yards at San Diego State, Pumphrey appeared to lack any quickness or burst whatsoever. He was completely ineffective carrying the football for the Eagles, averaging 1.9 yards per attempt, and fared only marginally better as a receiver out of the backfield and return specialist.

The Eagles were undoubtedly tempted to cut their losses and release the fourth-round draft pick out of training camp. Instead, Pumphrey cracked the 53-man roster, then landed on injured reserve with a “torn hamstring” a short time later, resulting in a much-needed redshirt year.

It would be easy to write Pumphrey off after all of that, and many people have. Sure, he had an incredible college career, but the Mountain West Conference and the NFL are two different worlds.

Yet, there’s reason for the Eagles to hold out some hope for Pumphrey, whose redemption tour began Monday at OTAs.

This is the period of the offseason where Pumphrey can show coaches he’s bigger, stronger, faster than when he arrived. All the 23-year-old has been doing since September 2017, besides rehabbing from an injury, we’re told, is working out. Some improvement from a purely physical standpoint should be evident.

If Pumphrey has taken the necessary leaps, his rapid ascent up the Eagles’ depth chart is possible.

Only Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement have their roster spots set in stone, and the former is on the final year of his contract. Wendell Smallwood spent the latter half of last season on the inactive list. Darren Sproles could be re-signed, but is currently a free agent. The Eagles will likely select another running back in the draft next week, but Pumphrey can still carve out a role in 2018 or beyond.

It’s not outrageous to envision Pumphrey filling a Sproles-like role – a running back/receiver hybrid who plays situationally.

Keep in mind, Pumphrey did have a legitimate hamstring injury last summer that caused him to miss time in training camp. Not a lot of work was lost, but it’s unclear how that impacted his preseason performance. It at least might explain the seeming lack of athleticism, and was perhaps related to his IR trip.

Pumphrey’s size is another story, and may always be an issue. Then again, he wouldn't be the first person of small stature to carve out a niche in the NFL, or the last.

That isn’t going away anytime soon. However, if Pumphrey arrived at OTAs with a little more meat on his bones and a little more bounce to his step, he has the potential to turn some heads over the next few weeks.

Then, who knows. Maybe he’ll be in a position to compete for a roster spot come camp.