Eagles

10 reasons the Eagles will repeat as Super Bowl champs

10 reasons the Eagles will repeat as Super Bowl champs

Over the next couple months, you’re going to hear virtually every NFL expert explain why the Eagles can’t win Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in February.

You’ll hear how nobody has won back-to-backs since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004. How no NFC team has won consecutive championships since the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993. How no NFC East team has even won consecutive division titles since the 2003 and 2004 Eagles.

You’ll hear about the short offseason. You’ll hear how Super Bowl champions grow complacent and lazy after a few months on the banquet circuit. You’ll hear how the Eagles’ quarterback situation will be a distraction. 

You’ll hear every reason on Earth why they can’t. But I think they can. I think they will.

Here are 10 reasons why:

1. The roster is better

The Eagles should be better at wide receiver (Mike Wallace for Torrey Smith), defensive line (add Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett), offensive line (presumably Jason Peters for the entire season) and tight end (Dallas Goedert for Brent Celek). Linebacker may be weaker, but with Jay Ajayi for a full season running back is a push even without LeGarrette Blount, adding Sidney Jones and losing Patrick Robinson is a push and safety and quarterback are pushes. Better roster. The Eagles have 17 starters back from a championship team, and they seem to have the pieces in place to fill those spots seamlessly.

2. They are clearly the class of the NFC East

The Giants were 3-13 last year and have a 37-year-old quarterback who hasn’t won a playoff game in six years. The Redskins were 7-9 last year and have a 34-year-old quarterback who’s 2-5 in the playoffs in his 13-year career. The Cowboys lost Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and Dak Prescott has to prove to me he’s elite without them. The most recent NFL.com league rankings have the Eagles No. 1, the Cowboys No. 14, the Redskins No. 18 and the Giants No. 26. Sounds about right. Dominate your division and you have a terrific shot at a first-round bye.

3. Doug Pederson is by far the best coach in the division

Pederson is 3-0 as a playoff head coach. Jay Gruden, Jason Garrett and Pat Shurmur are a combined 1-3 as playoff head coaches.  

4. Peerless skill players

This may be the most talented group of skill players the Eagles have ever had. How do you stop an offense with Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Wallace, Goedert, Darren Sproles, Ajayi and Corey Clement?

5. Staying hungry

Pederson won’t let them get complacent. As early as two days after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Pederson had already addressed the team about staying hungry, about continuing to work as hard as it did in 2017, about moving on quickly from the Super Bowl and preparing for 2018. We saw last year that Pederson has a remarkable kinship with his players and a unique understanding of when to be tough on them and when to go easy, and that will serve him well as they make a run at another title.

6. Carson Wentz

Before he got hurt, Wentz was playing some of the best football in NFL history. In his last nine games, he had 27 touchdown passes and five interceptions, went 8-1 and fashioned a 107.6 passer rating. Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the only other NFL quarterbacks who’ve ever had 27 TDs and five or fewer INTs in any nine-game stretch in NFL history. He might be the best quarterback in football this year. 

7. Home-field advantage

They’re the best home team in the NFL at 13-3 over the last two regular seasons, with one of those losses coming against Dallas last year in a game they weren’t trying to win. Including the playoffs and not including that Dallas game, they’re 15-2 at the Linc under Doug Pederson. The last time they went into a fourth quarter at the Linc trailing by more than four points was Chip Kelly’s final game as head coach. They’re capable of going 7-1 or even 8-0 at the Linc. Do that and go 5-3 on the road and you’re home for the playoffs. And that means the road to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta has to go through South Philly. And that means see ya in Atlanta.

8. Doug has done it before

Only two NFC teams in the last 25 years have reached back-to-back Super Bowls, and Pederson was a backup quarterback on one of them — the 1996 and 1997 Packers. He knows what it takes.

9. The Injured Guy Factor

If you can win a Super Bowl without Wentz, Jordan Hicks, Sproles, Peters and Chris Maragos, you can sure win one with them. You never know how these things will go, but the Eagles are optimistic all those guys will be ready either for the start of the season or soon after. And that's a Hall of Famer, two Pro Bowlers, a borderline Pro Bowler and a special teams ace. 

10. Because everybody is going to say they can’t.

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Eagles receive top Madden 20 team rating despite Carson Wentz snub

Eagles receive top Madden 20 team rating despite Carson Wentz snub

It’s that time of year again. 

Today, the good people of Madden released their full rankings for Madden 20, available on Aug. 2. Here are some notable items from how they see they see the Eagles looking this year.

The Best Team in the Game

That’s right, Madden believes in the Eagles. With an overall rating of 89, the Philadelphia Eagles are the highest rated team in the game. They edged out the Dallas Cowboys (88), New Orleans Saints (87), New England Patriots (87) and Green Bay Packers (87).

The lowest ranked teams in the game are the Miami Dolphins (74), followed by the New York Giants (77).

Carson Wentz Snubbed in Madden 20

Carson Wentz will begin the season as an 82 overall, dipping three points from where he was to start the year last season. The rating places Wentz tied for 13th at his position behind guys like Baker Mayfield (83) and Jared Goff (83) and tied with Deshaun Watson (82). After an incredible season last year, Patrick Mahomes (97) is the top-rated QB, followed by the ageless wonder, Tom Brady (96).

The Top Bird

It should come as no surprise that Fletcher Cox is the highest ranked Eagles player at an overall ranking of 96. His ranking makes him the 15th highest ranked player in the NFL and the top defensive tackle (Madden considers Aaron Donald an end). His combination of speed, acceleration and strength make him an unstoppable force in both the video game and in real life.

These Birds Can Fly

One of the more important aspects in Madden often times is speed and the Eagles have 13 players with a rating of 90 or higher in that category. Five players, Ronald Darby, Shelton Gibson, Josh Hawkins, DeSean Jackson and Avonte Maddox, are tied for the highest speed rating on the team at 93.

According to Madden, the fastest player in the NFL is Tyreek hill, with 99 speed and 99 acceleration, the only player with a 99 in either category.

Top of their Class

There’s a number of Eagles players that are ranked very highly at their position. 

Fletcher Cox: 96, 1st among DT

Jason Kelce: 94, tied for 1st among C

Zach Ertz: 93, 2nd among TE

Malcolm Jenkins: 92, 2nd among SS

Brandon Brooks: 90, 4th among RG

Brandon Graham: 89, 3rd among RE

Lane Johnson: 89, 2nd among RT

Lowest Rated Eagle

Sorry Rick Lovato, for the second straight year you’re the lowest rated Eagles player. Actually, Lovato’s ranking lowered from a 43 in 2019 to a 41 in 2020. Lovato, the long snapper, certainly didn’t do anything wrong from a snapping standpoint last season, but he’s listed as a TE in the game and they probably want to make him as unusable at that position as possible. 

Other notable Eagles that received poor ratings are Clayton Thorson (56), Nate Sudfeld (57) and Jordan Mailata (58). 

Click here to see the Madden ranking for the entire Eagles roster.

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Eagles 2019 training camp battles: How cornerback shakes out

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Eagles 2019 training camp battles: How cornerback shakes out

As we near the start of the Eagles’ 2019 training camp, we’re taking a closer look at some key position battles to watch this summer. 

Up first: Cornerback

Names to know 

Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Josh Hawkins 

What to watch 

The Eagles have a pretty deep stable of young and talented cornerbacks and after last year’s disaster at the position, that should let DBs coach Cory Undlin sleep a little easier at night. In 2018, the cornerback position was completely decimated by injuries, but it allowed younger players to gain valuable experience. Now, we’re not sure who the starters are anymore. 

On the injury front, Ronald Darby (ACL) and Jalen Mills (foot) both didn’t participate in OTAs as they recover from injuries that ended their 2018 seasons early. But both were the starters at the beginning of the 2018 season. During the spring, we saw Darby working on on side fields, but didn’t see that from Mills. Will these two be ready for the start of training camp? If not, are their positions guaranteed when they return? In Darby’s case, that answer is probably a yes. The Eagles re-signed him to a one-year deal and they didn’t bring him back to sit on the bench. But after that, the other two cornerback spots seem up for grabs. 

In the absence of starters last year, Douglas, Maddox and LeBlanc all got significant playing time and all three performed fairly well. Douglas has gotten chances to start after injuries in his first two NFL seasons and might be ready to simply have a starting role. Maddox was a rookie last season but didn’t play like it; he played three positions and although he looked like a rookie at times in the Saints playoff game, he had a fantastic first season for a fourth-round pick. And LeBlanc might have saved the season after he was claimed on waivers from Detroit. Jones had an up-and-down second NFL season thanks to a lingering hamstring injury, but he’s supremely talented and was about to be a first-round pick just a couple years ago. And Jones started last season as the nickel cornerback and played better than you probably remember. Despite his success last season, it seems like LeBlanc is firmly behind those other five; but having him as a sixth corner shows their depth. 

During OTAs — without Darby and Mills — the starters were Douglas, Maddox and Jones. The key here will be to see who gets first-team reps when the entire group is healthy. I’d expect we see a few combinations during training camp as the Eagles figure out their best combination. That also means moving some players (namely Maddox and Jones) inside and outside to find the right fits. 

Prediction 

Darby is going to start. Like I said earlier, they didn’t sign him to sit him. So that leaves the other two jobs open. I’m not going to give Mills his job back before I even seen him on the field; his foot injury has been a long one, so until he’s really back, I won’t predict him to be a starter (although this is where I should mention how much Jim Schwartz has seemed to like Mills over the last three years). 

So for now, I’ll guess Darby, Douglas and Maddox are the starters barring a trade. I’m still bullish on Jones; I’m just not sure how the Eagles can start him over Douglas or Maddox based on what we’ve seen. But this should be an open competition in training camp, which is where these jobs should be won. 

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