Eagles

Jason Witten is coming out of retirement and returning to Cowboys, but does he have anything left?

ap_jason_witten_cowboys.jpg
AP Images

Jason Witten is coming out of retirement and returning to Cowboys, but does he have anything left?

INDIANAPOLIS — There’s good news and bad news, Eagles fans. 

Good news: You won’t have to listen to Jason Witten as an analyst on Monday Night Football in 2019. 

Bad news: He’ll face the Eagles twice. 

The Cowboys shocked the NFL world on Thursday afternoon, announcing that Witten is coming out of retirement and will play for them in 2019. It will be his 16th NFL season after one dismal year in the broadcast booth. 

Witten, 36, became the butt of jokes during his one year with ESPN, but he is a future Hall of Fame tight end. Even though he’s getting up there in age, Witten was incredibly durable during the first 15 years of his career. He missed one game in 15 seasons. 

“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong,” Witten said in a statement released by the Cowboys. “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”

So, will Witten really help the Cowboys? Maybe. 

Without Witten, the Cowboys went 10-6 in 2018 and beat out the Eagles to win the NFC East title. They even won a wild card game before losing to the Rams in the divisional round. 

In his last NFL season in 2017, Witten caught 63 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns. He’s not exactly the All-Pro he once was, but he might be able to help. Even though this seems like a lot: 

The Cowboys also used a fourth-round pick last year on TE Dalton Schultz, so perhaps Witten can help bring him along. 

In his career, Witten has 152 catches, 1,642 yards and eight touchdowns against the Eagles in 29 career games. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Just a reminder that Eagles don’t have their Super Bowl without Andy Reid

Just a reminder that Eagles don’t have their Super Bowl without Andy Reid

I’m not here to tell you to root for Andy Reid in Super Bowl LIV. That’s your decision.

I’m just here to remind you that even though Reid had been gone five years before the Eagles won their Super Bowl, his fingerprints were still all over that team. And they wouldn’t have become Super Bowl LII champions without him.

That doesn’t mean Reid is forgiven for all the times he failed to deliver a championship of his own. It doesn’t excuse his flaws; and there were flaws. But it would be disingenuous to not give him credit because a lot of the groundwork for the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017 was laid by him.

Now, the Eagles also wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl (at least not the way they did) if they never fired Reid in 2012 either. That started a chain reaction that led to Chip and and then Chip’s downfall and there’s this whole Butterfly Effect that happened.

But just finding Reid’s influence on the Eagles’ championship team a couple years ago is much, much easier than all that. It was at every level.

On the roster

Six of the Eagles’ 22 starters in Super Bowl LII came from Reid’s time in Philadelphia. Think about that for a second. With how much turnover there is in the NFL and with the fact that the Eagles went through two coaching changes after firing Reid, to have 27.3 percent of your starters come from him is pretty impressive.

And think about those individual players: Nick Foles, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Mychal Kendricks. (And that doesn't even include Jason Peters, who missed the game because of injury.)

Sure, Foles left and came back but Reid drafted him, the other six starters and Brent Celek, who was also still on that team. So Reid, who was fired by the Eagles five years earlier, drafted the Super Bowl LII MVP and the guy who made one of the biggest defensive plays in franchise history.

And let’s not forget that it was Reid who helped Foles fall back in love with the game in 2016 after Foles had strongly considered retirement. Without Reid, Foles wouldn’t have even been in the league for the 2017 season.

“I just sort of made the decision to go back and play for Coach Reid,” Foles said to NBC Sports’ Reuben Frank during the 2017 season. “It was the best decision I made, going there in that situation. Because it wasn’t an easy call for me but I was back with someone that was familiar. I think Coach Reid is one of the greatest coaches in the world. I love them and I really had a special year last year with him.”

The coaching staff

When the Eagles were looking for a head coach in 2016, they listened closely to Reid, who vouched for his offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson. After all, who knows Pederson better than Reid? Reid coached Pederson in Green Bay, brought him to Philly to play before Donovan McNabb in 1999 and gave Pederson his first coaching job 10 years later.

So not only would Pederson not have gotten the head coaching job in Philly … without Reid, we wouldn’t even know who this guy was. And without Reid, Pederson would be a completely different coach. He learned his style as an offensive mind and as a leader from Reid and it shows. A lot of what Pederson did his first season as head coach was to try to get the cold feeling out of the building from Chip Kelly and restore the family atmosphere Reid worked so hard to foster for over a decade.

And let’s not forget Duce Staley either. Sure, Duce was drafted before Andy got to Philly but he played five seasons under Big Red and then Reid gave Duce his first coaching job in 2011.

The front office

While some of his moves since the Super Bowl season have been questionable, the 2017 season was Howie Roseman’s master-stroke. Don’t forget that Roseman worked under Reid for years and still worked under him when Roseman was promoted to general manager in 2010.

"I love Howie's energy, and I've loved it since I've been here with Howie," Reid said after Roseman was promoted to GM. "His eagerness to learn and then his ability to evaluate are second to none."

Roseman learned a lot of lessons from Reid, including the importance of solidifying offensive and defensive lines, something the Eagles did very well in 2017. It was under Reid and Joe Banner that Roseman was able to grow up in the NFL and become the youngest GM in the league at 34 back in 2010. He doesn’t become the Super Bowl GM without learning from Reid along the way.

•••   

Remember, I’m not telling you that you should be rooting for Reid to win this Super Bowl. To each his own. But the fact that the Eagles wouldn’t have won their championship without him, might be reason enough.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Snubbed Eagle Lane Johnson added to Pro Bowl team as alternate

Snubbed Eagle Lane Johnson added to Pro Bowl team as alternate

Lane Johnson is a Pro Bowler after all.

Johnson, snubbed in the original Pro Bowl announcement, has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl team as an alternate, according to Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio.

This is Johnson’s third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. There was no word on which offensive lineman dropped out of the game.

It was a little surprising that Johnson didn't make the team initially. He's considered one of the NFL's most dominating right tackles and was a first-team all-pro in 2017.

He didn't seem thrilled when the original team was announced a month ago:

Johnson missed the last three games of the regular season and the playoff loss to the Seahawks with a high ankle sprain, and it’s unknown whether he’ll be able to play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Orlando.

But for the purposes of bonuses and status, he’s now officially a three-time Pro Bowler.

Johnson becomes the seventh offensive lineman in Eagles history selected to three or more Pro Bowls.

Jason Peters was picked to seven between the 2009 and 2016 seasons. Tra Thomas, Bob Brown, Bucko Kilroy, Jason Kelce, Jim Ringo and Brandon Brooks have all been picked to three.

The 29-year-old Johnson becomes the Eagles’ sixth Pro Bowler, joining Brooks, Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz and Rick Lovato.

Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, recently signed a contract extension that runs through 2025.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles