Eagles

Are the 2019 Eagles better or worse along the offensive line?

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Are the 2019 Eagles better or worse along the offensive line?

The Eagles invested their first-round draft pick into the offensive line, but injuries were more widespread than one position last season. Will the unit be better or worse in 2019?

Key additions: Andre Dillard (draft, first round) 

Key departures: None

Why they could be better: Healthy bodies

Noticing a trend in this series? The Eagles’ bad injury luck in 2018 hit the offensive line hard, even though the affected players somehow missed a grand total of one game. Jason Peters was coming off a torn ACL to begin with, then went on to exit somewhere around half the games early with various dings. Jason Kelce battled injuries all year, yet hardly missed a snap, and Lane Johnson only failed to suit up once when it turns out he wasn’t practicing pretty much the entire season.

All three were already playing better down the stretch, a sign the unit was getting healthy. Kelce hasn’t missed a game since 2014, Johnson is traditionally very durable (suspensions notwithstanding) and Peters is another year removed from major knee surgery. Obviously, injuries can strike at any time, but 2019 is setting up as a clean slate for 60 percent of the Eagles’ front, which is a good sign.

Why they could be worse: Brandon Brooks’ injury

The injury gods giveth, but primarily they taketh. Brooks has designs on being ready to return potentially as early as Week 1 — it’s just hard to fathom that timetable is based in reality. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in January. That’s less than eight months turnaround from an injury that could take upwards of a year to fully recover from, if it doesn’t derail an athlete’s career entirely.

It’s plausible, if not likely the Eagles won’t have Brooks in uniform until November or December, and then what kind of player will they be inserting at right guard? A two-time Pro Bowler, or a guy working his way back from a major injury? And whoever is replacing Brooks until then — from the looks of things at OTAs, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who’s never played guard before — has massive shoes to fill, as this is one of the most dominant interior linemen in the NFL the past two seasons.

The X-factor: Left tackle

There’s an old saying around here: 80 percent of Jason Peters is better than 80 percent of the left tackles in the league. So when the 37-year-old legend occasionally gets beat because he simply doesn’t get around like he used to, it’s accepted because he’s probably taking care of business the rest of the time.

Except the trouble with Peters isn’t necessarily his performance. It’s the matter of availability, which has been an issue the past few seasons. He tapped out of games with injuries in 2015. He was shelved by an ACL in 2017. Then last year, it not only took a while for Peters to return to anything remotely resembling form, but actually finish whole games. It will be interesting to see how much work the nine-time Pro Bowler can actually handle, and if wear and tear accumulate, whether either first-round draft pick Andre Dillard or rugby star-turned-football prospect Jordan Mailata can plug the hole. Recent history suggests one of them may need to.

Is the Eagles’ offensive line better or worse?

It’s hard to get around the strong likelihood Brooks will miss time. It’s also hard to project a 16-plus-game season where Peters doesn’t exit an important game early. Dillard may help ease the loss of a Hall of Fame talent at left tackle, but it’s a lot to ask of a rookie. And while the Eagles have some nice depth pieces in Vaitai and Stefan Wisniewski, the appearance they are needed and not just luxuries is worrisome.

WORSE

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Stephen Jackson says the Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson after Instagram posts

Stephen Jackson says the Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson after Instagram posts

After DeSean Jackson made anti-Semitic Instagram posts quoting Adolf Hitler and Louis Farrakhan, the Eagles released a statement calling the wide receiver's posts 'absolutely appalling' and promising 'approporiate action'.

Whether the posts will ultimately cost Jackson his job with the Eagles is unclear, but according to former NBA player Stephen Jackson, it may have been presented as a possibility.

In one of many statements Wednesday defending the 33-year-old wide receiver, Stephen Jackson claimed that DeSean Jackson called him and said the Eagles threatened to cut him:

I didn't support the post, as far as Hitler and him supporting Hitler. I don't know support Hitler, I don't know nothing about Hitler, and I could give a f**k about Hitler. All I know is he was a cruel guy. I don't stand for that, and I don't support it. My whole reason for supporting D-Jack was, before I got on Instagram, he called me on the phone and told me that they was threatening to fire him, but they didn't do that to [Riley] Cooper. And I was like, 'You're right, you shouldn't have to apologize if they didn't make him apologize.

The Eagles did in fact punish wide receiver Riley Cooper in 2013 after he was filmed shouting the n-word at a country music concert, fining him an undisclosed amount of money. The team also condemned Cooper's comments in a public statement, as they did with DeSean Jackson's comments.

Cooper was not released for his comments, however, and was signed to a five-year extension in 2014. Cooper was released in 2016.

You can watch the full Stephen Jackson video below:

Stephen Jackson also said in a different post, which has since been deleted, that DeSean Jackson was "speaking the truth" in the posts.

In one of the original Instagram posts, DeSean Jackson highlighted a quote, which was incorrectly attributed to Hitler:

The white Jews knows that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep Americas secret the Jews will blackmail America. They will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were. The white citizens of America will be terrified to know that all this time they’ve been mistreating and discriminating and lynching the Children of Israel.

DeSean Jackson also posted a clip from a speech Farrakhan made in Chicago on July 4 where he alleged that White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci and Microsoft founder Bill Gates were plotting to use a virus vaccine to "depopulate the Earth." 

Farrakhan is a noted anti-Semite and homophobe who was among several prominent people whose posts were banned 

DeSean Jackson apologized publicly multiple times on Tuesday for his posts and comments, and also reportedly spoke with and apologized to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, both of whom are Jewish.

The Eagles signed DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $27 million deal in March 2019.

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The Eagles all-time team: Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, Tommy McDonald make the cut

The Eagles all-time team: Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick, Tommy McDonald make the cut

Over the next few weeks, we'll be unveiling our all-time Eagles team. 

We enlisted the help of Eagles reporters Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro, Quick Slants hosts Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks and Quick Slants producer Mike Mulhern for voting. 

We asked each person to rank their top five players at 16 different positions. A 1st-place vote was worth five points, a 2nd-place vote was worth four, and so on. 

Up next: Wide Receiver

Complete voting

1. Harold Carmichael = 23
2. Mike Quick = 16
3. Tommy McDonald = 15
4. DeSean Jackson = 13
5. Terrell Owens = 8 

The breakdown
New Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael got three 1st-place votes and Mike Quick and Tommy McDonald each got one. Harold was 2nd on the two ballots where he wasn’t first, and Quick got a 2nd-place vote, a 3rd-place vote and two 4th-place votes in addition to the one 1st-place vote. McDonald got the other 1st-place vote along with two 3rd-place votes and two 4th-place. DeSean Jackson got a 2nd, two 3rds and two 4ths. T.O. was as high as 2nd on one ballot and 4th on all four others. Interesting that the same five WRs were listed on all five ballots.

Did we get it right?
It’s tough comparing eras, but McDonald was the best in the business in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Carmichael was the best in the league from the early 1970s through the early 1980s and Quick was as good as anybody in the NFL from 1983 through 1987. So it really comes down to who did it the longest and most consistently, and that's Carmichael. From 1973 through 1983 — a span of 11 years — nobody had as many receiving yards or touchdowns. There’s a good reason he’s going into the Hall of Fame next summer. On our team, we’re coming out in a three-receiver set, and Carmichael, Quick and McDonald are clearly the top three in franchise history.
 
Complete team so far:
QB: Donovan McNabb 
RB: LeSean McCoy
WR: Harold Carmichael
WR: Mike Quick
WR: Tommy McDonald

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