Eagles

Here are all-NFC East first and second teams for 2019 season

Here are all-NFC East first and second teams for 2019 season

As we creep closer to the beginning of training camp, I decided to take a look around the NFC East to put together an All-Star team from the division. 

Over the last two decades there has been plenty of parity in the NFC East. No team has won the division in consecutive years since the Eagles from 2001-04. Since then, here’s how many division titles each team has won: 

Cowboys: 5
Eagles: 4
Giants: 3
Redskins: 2

After the Cowboys won the division with a 10-6 record last season, the Eagles might be poised to recapture the NFC East title this season and continue the trend of a new champion every year. But the Cowboys return a pretty strong roster too, while the Redskins should be decent and the Giants are, well, kind of rebuilding. 

Anyway, let’s take a look at my all-NFC East first and second teams: 

First team

QB: Carson Wentz (PHL)
RB: Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)
WR: Amari Cooper (DAL)
WR: Alshon Jeffery (PHL)
SLOT: Nelson Agholor (PHL)
LT: Tyron Smith (DAL)
LG: Will Hernandez (NYG)
C: Jason Kelce (PHL)
RG: Zack Martin (DAL)
RT: Lane Johnson (PHL)
TE: Zach Ertz (PHL)

DE: DeMarcus Lawrence (DAL)
DT: Fletcher Cox (PHL)
DT: Jonathan Allen (WAS)
DE: Ryan Kerrigan (WAS)
LB: Leighton Vander Esch (DAL)
LB: Nigel Bradham (PHL)
LB: Jaylon Smith (DAL)
S: Landon Collins (WAS)
S: Malcolm Jenkins (PHL)
CB: Byron Jones (DAL)
CB: Janoris Jenkins (NYG)

Second team

QB: Dak Prescott (DAL)
RB: Saquon Barkley (NYG)
WR: DeSean Jackson (PHL)
WR: Golden Tate (NYG) 
SLOT: Sterling Shepard (NYG)
TE: Jordan Reed (WAS)
LT: Trent Williams (WAS)
LG: Connor Williams (DAL)
C: Travis Frederick (DAL)
RG: Brandon Brooks (PHL)
RT: Morgan Moses (WAS)

DE: Brandon Graham (PHL)
DT: Malik Jackson (PHL)
DT: Matt Ioannidis (WAS)
DE: Robert Quinn (DAL)
LB: Alec Ogletree (NYG)
LB: Zach Brown (PHL)
LB: Mason Foster (WAS)
S: Jabrill Peppers (NYG)
S: Antoine Bethea (NYG)
CB: Josh Norman (WAS) 
CB: Ronald Darby (PHL)

A few notes: 

• The Eagles led all four teams with 9 of the 22 first-team spots, followed by the Cowboys (8), Redskins (3) and Giants (2). That seems about right. It’s clear the Eagles and Cowboys are the top two teams in the division. 

• While Zeke and Saquon being 1a and 1b in the division at running back, that’s not the deepest position in the division. That distinction belongs to RG; the NFC East might have the three best right guards in football. Zack Martin earned my top spot, followed by Brandon Brooks and it hurt to leave Brandon Scherff off the lists. He’s one of Washington’s best players and you can certainly make the argument that he belongs, but he played just eight games last season because of injury. 

• The Cowboys got both of their young linebackers on the first team and it wasn’t really a hard decision. The only question I had was the leave Nigel Bradham on there over Alec Ogletree. Ultimately, I think Bradham is a tick ahead of the Giants’ linebacker. 

• Even though he missed the entire 2018 season with Guillain-Barre syndrome, I still put Travis Frederick on the second team at center. If he comes back healthy this season, it’ll be a huge boost for the Cowboys. But Jason Kelce is clearly the top center in the division and likely the league. 

• I went with a 4-3 alignment on defense, which meant I had to shoehorn Ryan Kerrigan into a defensive end spot. He’s been a OLB in Washington’s 3-4, but there’s no way I was leaving him off the first team and it would be a cop out to make him a linebacker. 

• With how much of a strength the Eagles’ defensive line is, I was surprised just Fletcher Cox ended up on the first team. Overall, though, I think they have the most talented DL. 

• I could have made a case for Evan Engram over Jordan Reed on the second team. It was close. But neither is close to Ertz on the first team. By the end of this season, it isn’t crazy to think the Eagles could have the top two tight ends in the division. 

• On the second team, I have Sterling Shepard as the slot guy and Golden Tate outside. Not sure how that’s going to shake out. It seems to be the same problem the Eagles had with Tate and Agholor on the same team. I thought about Randall Cobb with one of those second-team spots but I want to see how he does with his new team in Dallas. 

• By the end of this season, I think Derek Barnett will be ahead of Robert Quinn, but based on what we’ve seen so far, Quinn gets the nod for that other second-team DE spot. 

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Malcolm Jenkins weighs in on NFL's controversial partnership with Jay-Z

Malcolm Jenkins weighs in on NFL's controversial partnership with Jay-Z

Nearly one week after a controversial partnership was struck between the NFL and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins sounded cautiously optimistic about its potential impact.

The twofold agreement somewhat benignly tasks Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation with improving the NFL’s live musical performances such as the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and perhaps more alarmingly tasks the rapper with “amplify(ing) the league’s social justice efforts.”

Critics of the deal — and there are many — view the latter function as anything from a cynical money grab on the part of Jay-Z to a perversion of the social justice ideals that free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled over.

Jenkins, who himself has been on the forefront of the fight for social justice reform, working with officials in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., implied there isn’t yet enough information to pass judgment on the new partnership, noting Jay-Z has a history of involvement in such matters.

We’re all kind of waiting to see kind of what the details are,” said Jenkins after Monday’s practice. “As a player who’s had to negotiate with the league and sit across from billionaires and talk about issues and why they should be important and why the NFL should be highlighting them, I think having somebody like Jay-Z who can add to that conversation — he does these things on a daily basis, has a history of doing those things — helps us as players to have an ally like that, so I’m looking forward to seeing what that turns into.

Of course, Jenkins and those in Kaepernick’s camp haven’t always seen eye to eye. Panthers safety Eric Reid once referred to the Eagles star as a “sellout” during an on-field confrontation, though the two have since mended fences.

It’s perhaps worth noting then that Kaepernick did not name Jenkins in a recent Tweet that some construed as a shot toward the Jay-Z deal.

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Cody Kessler back at practice but is it too late?

Cody Kessler back at practice but is it too late?

Cody Kessler has gone from competing with Nate Sudfeld for the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback job to clinging to a roster spot.

Such is life in the NFL.

Kessler returned to practice Monday, just four days after suffering a concussion seven plays into the Eagles’ preseason game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

According to NFL concussion policy, if he experiences no additional symptoms 24 hours after practice — which is early tomorrow afternoon — he’ll formally be cleared out of concussion protocol.

It was a quick recovery, but it may be too late.

With Kessler’s struggles, the Eagles adding veteran Josh McCown and rookie Clayton Thorson putting together a strong preseason performance against the Jags, Kessler is on thin ice.

And he knows it.

I can’t think, ‘What’s the plan here, what’s going to happen,’ and start playing all these scenarios in my head, which is tough to do,” Kessler said after practice. “I’ve just got to come out and practice, keep going, getting ready to play Thursday and hopefully next week and then just go from there.

Doug Pederson was clear before training camp that there was open competition between Sudfeld and Kessler for the No. 2 job.

But since Sudfeld broke his wrist in the preseason opener, Kessler has only hurt his chances. 

He was a combined 4-for-10 for 23 yards in two preseason games before suffering the concussion in Jacksonville.

I was looking forward to that game, I was excited, had that first drive moving a little bit, had a little rhythm going, and then obviously things that were out of my control happened and you’ve kind of just got to go with it,” Kessler said. “The best thing is I’ve known Josh for a long time, he’s one of the closest people to me through football that I’ve met. I understood it with me being out.

Kessler and McCown were teammates with the Browns in 2016. Both began the season backing up Robert Griffin III, who ironically was at the NovaCare Complex as well on Monday as he starts his second season with the Ravens.

Now what? Sudfeld won’t be back for a while, McCown just came out of retirement and Thorson is a rookie fifth-round pick.

But Kessler hasn’t done anything to take ownership of a roster spot, and as of now, he’s on the outside looking in.

You can’t think about all those scenarios,” he said. “You can play out different things that could happen: ‘What if this, what if that, what are they going to do,’ trying to think about that, but at the end of the day it’s completely up to the front office, and my role is to come out here and compete and hopefully Thursday get a chance to compete again.

The Eagles finish the preseason Thursday at the Linc against the Ravens and a week from Thursday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford against the Jets.

With Carson Wentz not expected to play in either game and Sudfeld hurt, Kessler should get a chance to redeem himself. But with Thorson and McCown both likely to play extensively, it’s not a lock.

I’ve seen a lot of things happen,” Kessler said. “My rookie year in Cleveland with Josh, we had RG(3), who’s here also today, he got hurt, Josh got hurt, I come in, something else happened - we had like five or six quarterbacks by the end of the year. Stuff like that is crazy. … I felt like I put a really good camp together. Unfortunate really didn’t get to show that Thursday. It sucks, something you can’t control, but just trying to pick up where I left off and look forward to this week.

Kessler is with his third team in three years, and he’s running out of time to give the Eagles a reason to keep him.

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