Eagles

Eagles power ranking roundups: Where do they fall before OTAs?

Eagles power ranking roundups: Where do they fall before OTAs?

Power rankings don’t mean a whole lot, but they’re fun. 

And after getting into the playoffs the last two years and winning four playoff games in the last two years, the Eagles are considered to be one of the better teams in the NFL. 

But how good are they? 

Well, we’ve polled NFL power rankings for eight different sites. The highest ranking the Eagles got was 6 and the lowest was 10. Their average out of the eight power rankings we polled was 7.875. 

Here’s a look at all of them: 

ESPN: 10 

What they said: The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard and selected Penn State's Miles Sanders in the second round. The talent infusion will elevate a unit that ranked 28th in rushing last season (1,570 yards) and was second from the bottom in yards per attempt. 

Our take: This is ESPN’s nerdy stats-based rankings. Somehow the Bears and Falcons are ahead of them. 

Peter King: 8 

What they said: I am trusting Carson Wentz to play a full season. If I were not, and I were trusting Nate Sudfeld to be the 2019 Nick Foles, I sure as heck would not have the Eagles eighth. So…I get the Eagles allowing Foles to leave in free agency. It was a mensch thing to do. Foles, more than any single player, was responsible for Philly winning its first Super Bowl and writing one of the great stories in recent NFL history. And then Foles had a second ridiculous run last year, engineering a 16-15 playoff upset of the Bears in Chicago, and he got to be so beloved in the Eagles’ locker room that Chris Long built a shrine to Foles in his locker. He wanted to leave. He wanted one more shot, at 30, to have his own team, a team that wouldn’t put him in the shadow of the prospective franchise quarterback. So Foles got the golden handshake from Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman and Jeff Lurie. Good for Foles. Not so sure it’s the best thing for the Eagles — though if they’d kept him for a couple of years at legit QB money, it might have led to valuable long-termer Brandon Graham leaving in free agency; can’t sign ‘em all. The Eagles can be confident in Carson Wentz, in his health and his ability. (I would be too) But sure? No way. Wentz has been lost for the season in two straight Decembers, with a torn ACL and a fractured vertebra, and missed 13 of the Eagles’ last 24 games. He wasn’t the bold player in 2018 that he was before his ACL tear, and not just because of the 4-6 record in his last 10 starts. Maybe it’s a good thing that he stayed in the pocket more (he was more accurate, to be sure), and that probably serves him best for a long career. But the Eagles have to find the right balance of derring-do and pocket presence for Wentz, because he’s a great weapon out of the pocket.

Our take: I don’t get all the talk about Foles. He was never coming back. But King is right about Wentz. He needs to be on the field. I definitely don’t get why the 49ers are at No. 7. I get King is trying to make a gutsy pick but that’s a hard sell for me. 

Sporting News: 10 

What they said: There's no more comfortable contingency for Carson Wentz, so it's on him to be durable and take advantage of all the bonus help the Eagles have given him. The backbone of Jim Schwartz's defense keeps this team among one of the league's most well-rounded.

Our take: The Bears, Packers and Browns are ahead of the Eagles. I don’t see any of that being true. I know the Bears had a better record than the Eagles last year, but the Eagles went to their building and won in the playoffs. And the Eagles have a better QB. 

USA Today: 6 

What they said: QB Carson Wentz is equipped with everything he needs to take Philly back to the top...except guarantee he can finally make it through a season unscathed.

Our take: This guy went out on a few limbs. The Vikings are at 5 and the Rams are at 7 and the Chiefs are at 8. I understand jumping off Kansas City, but the Rams should still be pretty good, right? Still, the Eagles at 6 make sense. 

CBS Sports: 7

What they said: Carson Wentz will be back and that will amp up the offense. What will Jordan Howard bring to help him?

Our take: The Packers are way up the list at No. 2, which is too early for them. But the Eagles being behind the Rams and Saints in the NFC is fine by me. 

NBC Sports Bay Area: 9 

What they said: The Eagles had a solid draft and will remain a team proficient on both sides of the ball. They’re strong along both fronts and have explosiveness in the passing game. There is, however, no Nick Foles safety net this year. Carson Wentz just has to stay healthy or the season will spiral.

Our take: The Bears, Rams and Saints are ahead of the Eagles here. I disagree on the Bears, but this isn’t bad. The Browns are at No. 6. The hype is real. 

NFL.com: 6

What they said: "All the Right Moves" is both the name of a middling Tom Cruise football movie from 1983 and the correct label for what the 2017 NFL champs are doing. Philadelphia hit the ground running in the first round by leapfrogging the Texans (picking at No. 23) into the 22nd overall spot to ensure they'd land Jason Peters' eventual replacement, Andre Dillard, who will eventually look out for Carson Wentz's blind side. Other draft banter: Still appreciate the trade for running back Jordan Howard, even with Doug Pederson's squad adding a quality Penn State back (Miles Sanders) in the second round (No. 53 overall). Anyone else feel like the Eagles are winning at life?

Our take: I think this is right, at least in terms of the Eagles’ being third in the NFC. This has the Bears at No. 7, which I think is only fair. 

Bleacher Report: 7

What they said: It's Carson's show now.

In each of the last two years, the Philadelphia Eagles were forced to turn to backup quarterback Nick Foles after Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending injury. That won't be an option for the team in 2019 — Foles will be leading the Jaguars this year.

That makes Wentz's health the biggest potential concern looming over the team. It isn't the only one; with Jordan Hicks gone, the middle linebacker spot is iffy, and the trade of Michael Bennett was a blow to the defensive line.

But the Eagles added D-line help in free agency by signing tackle Malik Jackson and bringing back Vinny Curry, and two of Philly's first three draft picks (tackle Andre Dillard and wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside) were both excellent calls.

Our take: The Bears, Rams and Saints are ahead of the Eagles in this one. We’ve been through this. But it seems like that’s the biggest discrepancy: Are the Eagles or the Bears the third-best NFC team? 

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Eagles mailbag: Derek Barnett's potential breakout, Carson Wentz's durability and contract concerns

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Eagles mailbag: Derek Barnett's potential breakout, Carson Wentz's durability and contract concerns

Part 1 touched on Sidney Jones, Josh Adams and my pick for Eagles Rookie of the Year.

Part 2 answered questions about Corey Clement, UDFAs and Big V’s future as a guard.

Here’s Part 3:

I guess this answer depends on your definition of “break out year.” Barnett’s 2018 season ended prematurely with a shoulder injury that hampered him before the Eagles shut him down. But early in the year, I thought he was the best defensive end on the team (by that point Michael Bennett hadn’t played well and Brandon Graham was getting over his ankle injury). In six games, Barnett had 2 1/2 sacks. But before the shoulder injury, he had 2 1/2 in four games before he missed Week 5 with the shoulder injury that eventually ended his season. So Barnett was on pace for 10 sacks before the injury. With plenty of opportunity this season, I think Barnett can be a double-digit sack guy. Sure. That’s a good bar to set. Before Fletcher Cox did it in 2018, the last Eagle to top 10 sacks was Connor Barwin in 2014.

One thing is for sure: this is a big year for Barnett. The Eagles traded away Bennett, Chris Long just announced his retirement (see story) and the Eagles passed on taking an edge rusher early in what was supposed to be a historically deep class. Barnett needs to not just be a starter, but be extremely productive in Year 3.

This is an interesting question and there really aren’t many contracts from this offseason that even qualify. So many of these contracts done by Howie Roseman are one-year deals. The long-term ones were: DeSean Jackson, Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo’s deal is cheap enough that I won’t count him.

If I had to pick the most likely, it would be DeSean Jackson’s deal. He’s 32 and his game is predicated on speed. So even though we haven’t seen it, there’s a chance that speed disappears and the Eagles are left with a speed receiver sans speed. That’s possible. For the record, I’d be willing to take that risk, as the Eagles did, because Jackson’s speed was exactly the element the Eagles needed. I was tempted to say Graham because the Eagles did kind of overpay him, but even if he can’t get after the QB, he can at least stuff the run. If Jackson loses his speed, what good is he?

Yeah, eventually they’ll return as an alternate in my lifetime, which would make me thrilled because I could finally stop reporting on a jersey color. (Just kidding, love you guys.) The hold-up here is that the NFL has this antiquated rule that won’t allow teams to have more than one helmet for each player. It’s an old safety rule. Jeff Lurie says he wants kelly green jerseys, but they don’t want them without matching helmets. Before you bring up the Rams, they use the same helmets with different decals. The Eagles say decals aren’t an option for them. It’s alternate helmets or bust. A couple of years ago, competition committee chairman Rich McKay told me he was optimistic this rule would eventually be changed. For now, we wait.

I’ll say 14 or 15. I really don’t know. I think he’ll be healthy at the start of the season but maybe he gets hurt during the year and misses a game or two. I can’t see the future.

It’s fair to say the Eagles are in win-now mode, but none of their contracts really tie their hands long-term. That’s the interesting thing about what the Eagles have done. They have some real flexibility with their roster. They are clearly playing to win a Super Bowl this year, but they’ll have the ability to keep signing free agents and should have plenty of draft picks coming up. That’s important because they’ll need cheap talent to surround Wentz when he’s making $30+ million per year soon enough.

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Eagles defensive end Chris Long announces retirement

Eagles defensive end Chris Long announces retirement

After a few months of contemplation, Eagles defensive end Chris Long has made his decision.

He’s calling it a career.

The 34-year-old announced his official retirement from the NFL on Saturday night and he did it, of course, on Twitter.

Not long after his official announcement, the Eagles congratulated Long, who became a fan favorite in Philly during the two years he played here.

Back in 2008, Long was the Rams’ No. 2 pick in the draft out of Virginia. He played his first eight years in St. Louis, before winning a Super Bowl in 2016 with the Patriots and then winning again in 2017 with the Eagles. He reached legend status in Philly during that Super Bowl run for helping create the dog mask phenomenon and for then rocking out during the parade down Broad Street.

And it was Long who pressured Case Keenum to throw that pick-6 to Patrick Robinson in the NFC Championship Game. In two seasons in Philly, he had 11 1/2 sacks and forced six fumbles.

In his 11 years in the NFL, Long piled up a clean 70 sacks to go along with 15 forced fumbles.

The Eagles will miss Long on the field and off it. Aside from being a highly productive player in his two seasons with the Eagles, Long was also a very highly respected member of the locker room. He was a favorite among teammates and his sense of humor — he created a Nick Foles shrine last year — was infectious at the NovaCare Complex. (The funniest part of the Foles shrine was watching Long’s mischievous smile as he watched a bunch of reporters gobble it up.)

Long had a long and productive football career, but, really, his legacy will be the work he’s done off it. That work is not finished.

Long was named the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his charitable efforts through the Chris Long Foundation. He clearly deserved the honor.

He’s given away his salary, raised millions for educational initiatives in cities across the country and, through his Waterboys initiative, has provided access to clean water for communities in East Africa for years.

While his teammates and coaches will be happy for Long, his departure does leave the Eagles a little light at defensive end. To his credit, Long told the Eagles to plan as if he wouldn’t be back. Long wasn’t interested in returning for a reduced role, which the Eagles told him he would have in 2019.

Without Long, the Eagles have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller, Daeshon Hall and Joe Ostman as their defensive ends. Malik Jackson, signed this offseason, will play on third downs as a defensive tackle, taking stress off the ends, but the Eagles will still miss Long, who had been a third-down specialist during his time with the Eagles.

Last season, the Eagles entered the year with Long and Michael Bennett as their top rotational defensive ends. That was incredible depth they won’t have this season unless they make another move.

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