Eagles

Compiling most beloved Eagles team of last 20 years

Compiling most beloved Eagles team of last 20 years

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s get a little lovey-dovey with the Eagles. 

Looking back at the last 20 years, I wanted to put together an Eagles team with the most beloved players of the generation. I went back to the 1999 season, the first under Andy Reid for this list. So when you’re frantically searching for Reggie White or Randall, that’s why they’re not there. 

Now, a lot of the time, it’s pretty simple: The best player is the most loved by fans. But that’s not always the case. 

Here’s a look at the team I put together. If you have an addition or subtraction, leave it below: 

QB: Nick Foles 
It’s amazing to think that Foles nearly retired a couple years before he led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win and took home the MVP trophy. But since he did that, he’s going to be a legend in this town forever. Many still think Donovan McNabb is the greatest QB in team history, but he was never universally loved the way Foles is right now. And I expect Carson Wentz to be a great quarterback, but it’s hard to imagine this love affair between city and player ever being duplicated. 

RB: Brian Westbrook 
This was a tough one because LeSean McCoy is the best running back in franchise history, but that’s not what this list is. When we talk about the most-beloved players, Westbrook is atop the list. He had a tremendous career as an undersized back out of Villanova, which only helped fans fall in love with him. 

WR: Alshon Jeffery 
No, Alshon hasn’t been here for long, but he helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl and played all of that season with a torn rotator cuff. He also consistently told everyone they were going to win. It became clear how much fans love him when after Alshon dropped a ball in these last playoffs, many of them rushed to his defense. T.O. is probably the most talented receiver we’ve had in town over the last 20 years, but he was as divisive as he was great. 

WR: Rotating cast of training camp guys 
This is kind of a cop out, but I wasn’t going to go through this list without a nod to the annual love affair with a relatively unknown wide receiver. From Na Brown to Paul Turner to Rasheed Bailey, these guys become huge stories in August, but never really have much of an impact when the games matter. 

TE: Brent Celek 
Zach Ertz is the better player, but everyone loves Celek. He missed just one game in 11 seasons and retired a champion. He sort of embodied that blue collar work ethic we all want from our athletes in this city. 

FB: Leonard Weaver 
Big Weave really only played one season with the Eagles before an ACL injury ended his career, but it was a great year. He was an All-Pro, but more importantly, he immediately connected with fans. Hard to be a fan favorite in one season, but Weaver did that. 

LT: Jason Peters 
This came down to Tra Thomas or Peters, but I gave the nod to JP. Although plenty of fans were frustrated by Peters’ nagging injuries this past season, the period of time when he became The Bodyguard was pretty cool. How many offensive linemen get fans to wear t-shirts with their nicknames? 

LG: Evan Mathis 
Things got contentious between Mathis and the organization at the end of his run, but he was a Pro Bowl left guard and was a really affable guy. For fans on Twitter, Mathis became a must follow for his jokes and wit. 

C: Jason Kelce
Yeah, he happens to be the best center in the NFL, but even if he wasn’t, he’s on this list. We all saw the speech. 

RG: Brandon Brooks 
I thought about giving this spot to Todd Herremans, who played a bunch of different positions, but I have to give the edge to Brooks, who is a part of the Super Bowl team and immediately became accepted in Philly. For those of you on Twitter, you’ll remember when Brooks got to town and slowly learned about Broad Street and Wawa. 

RT: Jon Runyan 
If Runyan played anywhere else, Eagles fans would have probably hated him. And it’s pretty funny he’s in charge of rule enforcement in the NFL because he didn’t have a pristine reputation. But he was a tough dude and played nine seasons with the Eagles and didn’t miss a game. 

DE: Hugh Douglas 
He didn’t have a particularly long career in Philly, but Hugh was jolly and funny and definitely connected with the fanbase. It should come as no surprise that Douglas has been working in sports media since his career ended in 2005. 

DT: Hollis Thomas 
Tank spent 10 seasons with the Eagles and parlayed his popularity into a career with WIP in his post-football days. 

DT: Fletcher Cox
It actually feels like Cox’s popularity hasn’t quite caught up to his level of play. Because he’s an All-Pro, one of the best defensive players in the league and it still feels like he’s not as beloved as other players. But if he keeps playing like this, fans are gonna love him forever. 

DE: Trent Cole
The lasting image of Cole in Philly will be his archery sack celebration that we saw plenty of times during his career with the Eagles. 

LB: Jeremiah Trotter 
The Axe Man! Trotter became a Pro Bowl linebacker, went to Washington for two years and then came back and became a Pro Bowler again. Then after one year in Tampa Bay, he came back for one more season. That’s three different stints with the Eagles and he was a fan favorite for a decade. 

LB: DeMeco Ryans 
Mufasa came in before Andy Reid’s last year and then became a favorite during the Chip Kelly seasons. The Eagles released him after the 2015 season, ending his NFL career, but he was a bright spot on a defense without a ton. 

LB: Connor Barwin 
I’m cheating a little bit because Barwin was an edge rusher in a 3-4 and then played DE in 2016, but he needs to be on this list. Few athletes go to a new town and immediately immerse themselves as quickly as Barwin did. He’s still raising money for parks in the city. 

CB: Troy Vincent 
Vincent came to the Eagles in 1996, but from 1999-2003 he was a Pro Bowler. He was so good for so long. He’s arguably the best free agent pickup in franchise history. 

CB: Sheldon Brown 
Lito Sheppard and Asante Samuel were better players, but Brown was known to get a huge hit here or there. His hit on Reggie Bush will always be remembered. 

S: Malcolm Jenkins 
I didn’t know whether or not to put Jenkins on this list because he was slightly divisive for a while simply because of his anthem protests; some people simply want their football players to play football. But I’m not leaving him off because of that. When we look back at Jenkins in 10 years, he’ll be thought of as one of the greatest players in franchise history and a guy who helped bring a Super Bowl to Philly. 

S: Brian Dawkins 
I don’t think I need to say much here. We get it. 

K: David Akers
Not exactly a ton of competition. Maybe Jake Elliott will eventually overtake him, but he’s got a long way to go. 

LS: Jon Dorenbos
Dorenbos has to be the most beloved long snapper in NFL history. He’s already well on his way to an impressive post-NFL gig and has been wowing again on America’s Got Talent. How many fan bases even know the name of their long snapper? 

P: Donnie Jones 
He’s the best punter in franchise history, but he was also a really likable guy too. Jones never took himself too seriously. 

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How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

Several years before his monster game for the 49ers over the Packers, Raheem Mostert was just another undrafted rookie trying to make the Eagles' roster. Before halftime of the NFC Championship Game, Mostert had already become only the 4th player in NFL postseason history with 160 rushing yards and three rushing TDs in a playoff game. Four years ago, he was an Eagle. Here's a story NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wrote on about Mostert's preseason back in August of 2015.

•••

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just when we were all set to concede a roster spot to Kenjon Barner, Raheem Mostert does this.

Fifteen carries for 69 yards, eight catches for 93 yards and quite a statement that if the Eagles are going to keep a fourth running back, it should be him.

Barner, a third-year pro from Oregon, was terrific the first few games of the preseason, with two punt returns for touchdowns, a 50-yard gain on a screen pass and a rushing touchdown.

Mostert, a rookie from Purdue, has quietly been very good playing in Barner’s shadow, but with Barner getting just a couple touches Thursday night against the Jets, it was Mostert’s turn to shine.

He became the first Eagle in at least 15 years with 60 or more yards both rushing and receiving in the same preseason game.

For what it’s worth, only five Eagles in the last 50 years have had 60 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards in a regular-season game -- Brian Westbrook four times, Wilbert Montgomery three times and Timmy Brown, Ricky Watters and LeSean McCoy once each.

“I was just really trying to focus on the task at hand and trying to make a couple big plays out there and help the team out,” Mostert said at his locker.

“That was my main focus. I thought I did a pretty good job, but there’s always room for improvement. But I really tried my best and that’s all I can do.

“I came in with focus, My mentality was I’m going to stick it out, I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep fighting, keep pushing, and at the end of the day that’s all anybody ever asks me to do in the NFL.”

Mostert finished the preseason with 351 yards from scrimmage, most by an Eagle in a preseason in at least 20 years.

That’s a ton of yards. Nearly 90 per game.

He averaged 4.0 yards on 39 carries and added 194 yards on 14 catches.

No back in the NFL had as many yards from scrimmage this preseason or as many total yards, including returns. He finished fourth in the NFL this preseason in receiving yards and fifth in rushing yards.

All of which guarantees Mostert absolutely nothing.

Barner’s numbers were impressive too. And with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles -- three Pro Bowlers -- there may not even be a spot on the 53-man roster for a fourth running back.

Final cuts are due Saturday, but head coach Chip Kelly is expected to trim the Eagles’ roster on Friday afternoon.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” Mostert said. “Whatever happens happens. I’m just going to continue to push and just do my thing. Honestly. I’m not too worried about the cuts. I’m going to just work on what I’ve got to work on, regardless.”

Mostert was a two-time Big East sprint champ in college, but unlike most track guys that come to the NFL, he’s a physical runner, a capable blocker and a polished receiver.

“When you look at some of those track guys, you’re like, ‘OK, they’re fast and that’s about it. They can’t catch, they can’t block,’” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “He’s totally different. He brings a lot to the table. He’s aggressive, he can block, he can catch.”

There’s a school of thought that Barner, as a third-year pro who’s bounced around the league a bit, will be easier to sneak through waivers if he’s released. So you keep Mostert instead of leaving him unprotected and release Barner, hoping to add him to the practice squad.

The other school of thought says that Barner has done more than enough to warrant a roster spot and you keep him and let Mostert go, hoping nobody claims him, then bring him back on the practice squad.

The only certainty is that Mostert will be somewhere. Either on a 53 or on a practice squad.

Not that he wants to get released and start over somewhere else.

“I definitely think that [I’ll be somewhere], but I’m not going to be happy about it,” he said. “I know I can do a lot more and minimize the mistakes that I’ve had because I’ve had a lot of mistakes.

“It’s all on what I put on film, that’s what really matters. I’ve just got to continue to do the little things right in order to be special and be great for the team.

“Whatever the outcome is, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. … Just to be the ultimate player.”

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Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

One of Andy Reid’s biggest strengths — one he shares with Doug Pederson — is that his players love him. He connects with them.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that so many of his former players are really happy for him right now as Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl 15 years after he took the Eagles.

It seems like most of Philadelphia will be pulling for the Chiefs in two weeks.

But we also know a bunch of Reid’s former players and co-workers from Philadelphia, some who played in Super Bowl XXXIX, will be rooting hard for Big Red in Super Bowl LIV.

Here were a few of their reactions on Sunday night:

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