Eagles

3 Eagles land in PFF's top 50 NFL players going into 2019

3 Eagles land in PFF's top 50 NFL players going into 2019

There’s plenty of hype surrounding the Eagles this season and there should be. The Birds are coming off back-to-back playoff seasons and have a really talented roster. 

They also have three players on the ProFootballFocus’ list of top 50 players heading into the 2019 season.

(For reference, the Eagles had four players in their top 101 players from the 2018 season.)

In the top 50 list, the Cowboys also have three players (29. Travis Frederick, 32. DeMarcus Lawrence, 40. Zack Martin), the Giants have one (43. Saquon Barkley) and the Redskins don’t have any. Sorry, Washington. 

Let’s take a look at the Eagles on the list: 

41. Brandon Graham 

Here’s what they said: Sacks don’t tell the whole story for any player in the NFL, and no player epitomizes that more than Graham. He’s recorded double-digit sacks in PFF’s system only once (2017) but has been as consistent as they come from an overall pressure and pass-rush grade standpoint. He has recorded 45 or more pressures in six of his last seven seasons in the NFL and has earned 81.0-plus pass-rush grades in five of them.

My take: It’s true that sacks don’t tell the entire story, but Graham had just four last season. That’s too low. He was hampered by an ankle injury at the start of last season and it showed; he got off to a slow start. But Graham has been consistently disruptive over the past few years. He’s a very good player, but falls short of being great. I don’t know if he's a top-50 player, but it is nice to see his all-around game get recognized because his sack total has never officially gotten to double digits and he’s never made a Pro Bowl team. 

24. Jason Kelce

Here’s what they said: Kelce’s four-year overall grade (91.1) ranks fourth among the 94 interior offensive linemen with at least 2,000 offensive snaps played since 2015, and his 93.4 run-block grade ranks first among the same group of qualifiers. Most recently, Kelce earned a career-high 88.0 pass-blocking grade in addition to his 80.7 run-blocking grade in 2018. He also earned a 94.6 run-blocking grade throughout the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017, a single-season mark that ranks first in the PFF era (2006-18) among qualifying centers and one that landed him PFF’s top run-blocker award in 2017.

My take: Kelce was the highest-ranked center on the list and the second-highest offensive lineman behind OT David Bakhtiari at No. 13. It’s high praise for Kelce, but he deserves it. He had a really good season in 2018 and has consistently been one of the top centers in the league for a while now. You can argue about whether or not he’s the best center in the league, but there’s no questioning whether or not he’s one of the best. With his football knowledge, Kelce keeps getting better despite being over 30 and despite all his injuries. He’s been an All-Pro the last two years, but hasn’t made the Pro Bowl in those seasons, which is an absolute joke. 

4. Fletcher Cox 

Here’s what they said: It’s a shame that Cox plays in the same league as Donald; he’d be the unanimous decision for top defensive interior if it weren’t for the Rams' superstar. Cox’s pass-rush win rate in 2018 (20.9 percent) is the fourth-best single-season mark of any defensive interior in the PFF era. And his 91.2 pass-rush grade this past season, another career high for the big man, also ranks inside the top 10 among qualifiers since 2006.

My take: The only players ranked higher than Cox were 1. Aaron Donald, 2. Tom Brady, 3. Bobby Wagner. That’s some impressive company, but it’s about time Cox gets his due. He’s a dominant player. Is he the fourth-best player in the league? I don’t know. What PFF does, ranking players regardless of position, is really tough. Is Cox better than Patrick Mahomes, who comes in at No. 6 or Drew Brees, who comes in at No. 5? I have a hard time saying he is. But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Cox is an absolute wrecking ball. He’s gone to four consecutive Pro Bowls, but finally made his first All-Pro team in 2018. PFF is right, it’s a shame he’s playing in the same era as Donald, who is a future Hall of Famer. But it’s not just Donald; there have been plenty of other great interior lineman over the last few years — Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Damon Harrison, Geno Atkins, Kyle Williams, Jurrell Casey. It has taken a long time for Cox to get his credit, but he really is one of the best players in the league. 

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Alshon vs. Thrash in Roob's 10 Observations!

Alshon vs. Thrash in Roob's 10 Observations!

Alshon Jeffery vs. James Thrash, Henry Ruggs’ 40 time, the Gin Blossoms and Mark Duper all found their way into this weekend’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations.

I’m guessing that’s never happened before!

ALSHON VS. JAMES THRASH: Forget all the Carson stuff. Forget about the injuries and the terrible body language and the awful contract and the dropped passes that turned into Nick Foles interceptions in the Super Bowl and the playoff loss to the Saints. Let’s just focus on production, and Alshon Jeffery in three seasons in an Eagles uniform has 165 catches, 2,122 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Let’s do a little comparison of three WRs. These are averages based on their years when they were regulars on the Eagles:

Todd Pinkston: 44 catches, 659 yards, 15.0 ypc, 4.0 TDs

James Thrash: 55 catches, 675 yards, 12.4 ypc, 5.0 TDs

Alshon Jeffery: 55 catches, 707 yards, 12.9 ypc, 6 TDs

Jeffery did have a big 2017 postseason, but for the most part he’s been a pedestrian receiver since he’s been here. He’s the 14th-highest-paid WR in the NFL, but since 2017 he’s 37th among WRs in yards per game (54).

He’s an underachieving, overpaid, injury-prone 30-year-old James Thrash clone. Howie’s gotta find an exit strategy.

HOW FAST WILL HE RUN? I’ve never been a huge Combine fan, but I'll be glued to the TV Thursday when the wide receivers run the 40. How fast can Henry Ruggs go? In a way, Eagles fans should hope he doesn’t put up a 4.23 or something absurd because that might move him up too high for the Eagles to even trade up for. But I just want to see this kid run. It’s been a long time since one player made so much sense for the Eagles.

GET THIS MAN A CONTRACT: Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are both scheduled to speak at the Combine on Tuesday, and it will be the first time we’ve heard from them in about six weeks, since Doug assured us that Mike Groh and Carson Walch weren’t getting fired. I’m most interested to hear what Howie has to say about Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles need to resolve this situation quickly because the last thing they need this offsaeson is a growing impasse between the franchise and one of their best players and the drama and distraction it would bring. Jenkins deserves a new deal. They have the money. Get it done.

NICK AND DENNIS: It’s hilarious to me that the two players the Eagles took in the 2012 draft who’ve caught postseason touchdown passes are Nick Foles and Dennis Kelly.

WHO'S AFTER MILES AND DALLAS? I was going to make a list of the top 5 Eagles 25 or younger but after I jotted down Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert I got stuck. Who else would you put on that list? Derek Barnett? Nate Gerry? Jake Elliott? Avonte Maddox? Boston Scott? Greg Ward? Cre’von LeBlanc? Andre Dillard? Sidney Jones?

I guess I’d go:

1. Miles Sanders

2. Dallas Goedert

3. Derek Barnett

4. Avonte Maddox

5. Jake Elliott

MARK DUPER'S BRIEF EAGLES CAREER: History has forgotten it, but Mark Duper was briefly with the Eagles during 1993 training camp. You won’t find it mentioned on his Wikipedia page or his Pro Football Reference page. None of his on-line bios mention it. But after spending 1982 through 1992 with the Dolphins – he was a three-time Pro Bowler and had four 1,000-yard seasons – Duper signed in the summer of 1993 with the Bengals. It didn’t go well. They released him a couple weeks into training camp. Rich Kotite, desperate for more old broken-down players who couldn’t play anymore, immediately signed the 34-year-old Duper. He arrived at training camp in West Chester late in the day on Aug. 19, and a group of us grabbed him walking into the dining hall:

“The biggest mistake I ever made was going to the Bengals,” he said, adding, “I feel like I still have a few good years of football left.”

Turned out he didn’t even have a few weeks of football left. Duper was 34, which made him a typical Rich Kotite favorite. Not surprisingly, he couldn’t run anymore. We saw it in his first practice. The Eagles released him a couple weeks later, and he never played football again.

FOUND OUT ABOUT YOU: Anybody remember when the Gin Blossoms played the Eagles’ 2004 pep rally in the Headhouse Plaza outside the Linc? It was Sept. 9, 2004, three days before the 2004 Super Bowl season began. Did you know that gig was the first time several songs from their next record, Major Lodge Victory, were ever played live? And the next night the entire band was at the TLA on South Street to see the late, great Tommy Keene, a long-time Gin Blossoms collaborator, open for Guided by Voices?

1-FOR-62: The Eagles have selected 62 defensive players in their last 14 drafts, and one has gone to a Pro Bowl. Fletcher Cox, naturally. The rest of the league has drafted 171 Pro Bowl defensive players over the last 14 years.

BEING GREG LEWIS: How about Greg Lewis’s career. As a player, he made little impact in his five years with the Eagles – he averaged just 25 catches and 339 yards per season – but he caught a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl on what may have been the best pass Donovan McNabb ever threw. Then he goes to Minnesota in 2009, playing for Brad Childress, and in his first game with the Vikings makes that insane miracle 32-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone with 2 seconds left against the 49ers that wins him a freaking ESPY for Play of the Year. Then he becomes Eagles WRs coach in 2016 and gets fired after one year. Then he goes to the Chiefs in the same role and wins a Super Bowl.

WHAT ABOUT THIS GUY? So maybe there’s hope for Carson Walch, too!

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Four reasons the NFL's CBA proposal is bad for the players

Four reasons the NFL's CBA proposal is bad for the players

If you're a football fan, you've probably read about ongoing negotiations on a new CBA between the NFLPA, which the union representing the players, and management council, which represents the 32 NFL owners.

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, but negotiations have been ongoing this offseason.

The NFLPA executive committee voted 6-5 to not recommend the current proposal to the members, so negotiations continue.

The complete proposal hasn’t been made available to the public, but enough details have leaked over the last two days to get some sense of what’s included.

The NFLPA released this fact sheet outlining key points in the CBA proposal.

And there are a lot of positives for the players. It expands pension eligibility and improves insurance benefits for retired players and raises minimum salaries, eases drug testing and reduces fines.

All good.

But there are plenty of red flags, enough that numerous high-profile players have been tweeting against the proposal.

Here are four reasons the deal as currently proposed is a bad one for the players:

1. The proposal calls for a 17-game regular-season schedule while also calling for an increase in player revenue from the current 47 to 48.5 percent. That’s about a 3.1 percent revenue increase for a 6.3 increase in games played. How is that fair? The owners are going to be raking in massive TV revenue increases, especially with the expanded playoff schedule, but the players won’t be receiving an equivalent share of that money.

2.  All players under contract when the league goes to a 17-game schedule — presumably in 2021 — will be paid only $250,000 more for that 17th game game. So anybody with a base salary over $4.25 million in 2021 will essentially be taking a pay cut. The Eagles have 10 players with 2021 base salaries of at least $5 million. Carson Wentz is on the books at $15.4 million. That’s $905,882 per week based on a 17-week schedule. So his weekly salary would go down to $869,440. That’s a $36,000 pay CUT per week. He’ll essentially be making less money per week. Now multiple that pay cut by several hundred players. The NFL will be raking in billions more dollars by increasing the regular season from 256 games to 272 - and eventually more with expansion - and increasing the postseason from 11 games to 13. While essentially asking the players to earn less per week.
 
3.  The proposal does shorten the preseason from four games to three, but there is apparently no second bye week included. So the players are being asked to play 17 regular-season games in an 18-week span in an era where the NFL loves blabbing about player safety. Add to that the likelihood of increased international travel and the wear and tear that takes on a player as the league explores more and more international games. This is just pure greed on the NFL’s part. It’s clear that everything the league says about player safety is just lip service if they are so desperate to add a 17th regular-season game in an era with increased focus on concussions, injuries and player health after football.  

4. The NFL is way too eager to get a deal done now when the current CBA doesn’t expire for another year. It definitely benefits both sides to have a deal hammered out and guarantee labor peace for a decade. But you just get the feeling the owners want to get this done before the NFLPA really has a chance to digest the full proposal and its long-term financial implications for the players. The owners over the last few days have embarked on a carefully strategized PR campaign to make this proposal seem like a good one for the players and try to rush a vote through before everybody knew what the implications were. Nobody wants a strike. Nobody wants a lockout. But the players are what makes the league work. Without them there is no NFL. They deserve more than what this CBA proposal calls for.

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