Eagles

Most important Eagles for 2020: Brandon Graham is still high on the list

Most important Eagles for 2020: Brandon Graham is still high on the list

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be counting down the 20 most important Eagles for the 2020 season. 

20: Nate Sudfeld 
19. Avonte Maddox
18. Nathan Gerry
17. Dallas Goedert  
16. Derek Barnett
15. Jalen Reagor 
14. Jalen Mills
13. Brandon Brooks
12. Rodney McLeod
11. Javon Hargrave
10. Miles Sanders  
9. Andre Dillard
8. Brandon Graham 

With Jason Peters gone, Graham is now the longest-tenured Eagle and he’s one of the longest-tenured pro athletes in the entire city. Graham has had such a strange career. Once thought to be a bust, he’s been one of the Eagles better players for a while now. 

In 2019, Graham led the Eagles with 8 1/2 sacks, the second-highest total of his career. He also led the Eagles in total hurries with 48, according to ProFootballFocus. 

That’s the thing with Graham. Sometimes the sack numbers don’t do him justice. Because for years, he’s been a disrupter. He doesn’t always get to the quarterback but he’s great at moving quarterbacks off their spot, which doesn’t always show up in the stat column. And he’s also stout against the run, eager to pull down a running back on his way to the passer. 

Earlier on this countdown, the Eagles’ right defensive end, Derek Barnett, came in at No. 16. Barnett has been an OK player but hasn’t lived up to his first-round status. And since Barnett faces left tackles every Sunday, Graham is able to feast on some inferior right tackles, which undoubtedly helps him. 

Graham is now 32 and is under contract through the 2021 season. Graham is getting older but he didn’t show any signs of wear in 2019. In fact, he was much better last season than he was in 2018 as he returned from an ankle injury and surgery. 

Aside from being a good player on the field, Graham is also the heart and soul of the defense. He’s the most positive force in that locker room, always laughing, smiling and, of course, talking. Without Malcolm Jenkins, several players will need to step up their leadership game and Graham fits in that category. No question the guy who’s been on the team longest will be able to. 

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Jason Kelce, Jason Peters already blending their 25 years of NFL experience

Jason Kelce, Jason Peters already blending their 25 years of NFL experience

Jason Kelce and Jason Peters have been teammates on the Eagles’ offensive line for nearly a decade, but 2020 is a new experience. 

Now, they’re lining up next to each other. 

Sure, it’s a bit of an adjustment as two of the longest-tenured Eagles learn how to play next to each other while Peters also learns how to play an entirely new position. 

But if anyone can figure it out, it’s gotta be these two right? 

Between them, Peters and Kelce have 25 years in the NFL, making them the most experienced center-right guard combo in the entire league and it’s not close. The next closest duo belongs to the Steelers, who have Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro (17 years). 

“We’re talking more than we ever have, really, to iron out all these details,” Kelce said on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday. 

I’d watch that TV show. Absolutely. 

Think about the high-level discussions going on right now between two of the smartest and most cerebral offensive linemen in the entire NFL. These are two guys who could probably coach an OL room tomorrow. And they’ve been busy exchanging ideas and techniques. And even though Peters has never played the guard position, he’s still making suggestions and bringing a unique perspective to the Eagles’ interior OL as the two learn to play next to each other. 

Obviously, with JP being new to the position, we’re obviously fast tracking a lot of that,” Kelce said. “We’re trying to iron out how he’s going to step, where he’s going to go, against what kind of defense we’re going to go with, maybe a different aiming point against maybe a different defense where we go a little wider. These are discussions that we’re going to continue to have. 

“It’s been awesome, honestly, to work with Jason Peters. He’s got so much knowledge from playing the game for so long and the ability to try to take all of that knowledge he has at left tackle and now apply it to a new position. He’s not really starting from ground zero. He’s not starting with a lack of reference. He understands the game, he understands angles, he understands footwork. Being able to bounce things off and really ask him questions. 

“Maybe there’s some things at right guard and center that he’s going to be learning throughout his whole thing but he’s already brought up a few things on ways to maybe do something better. Or ‘why aren’t we doing it this way?’ To be able to talk to a guy who has the amount of experience he does and really have those types of conversations, it’s really fun for an older guy.

It’s not a quick process, learning how to play next to another guy. In fact, Kelce said that he still has those same conversations with Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks. So to expect he and Peters to figure all this out in one training camp just isn’t realistic. But they hope to at least get to a point by Sept. 13 where they have a base from which to build. 

Kelce on Tuesday said he had been hoping the Eagles were going to bring back Peters even before Brooks went down with an Achilles tear. Of course that didn’t happen. The Eagles are committed to playing Andre Dillard at left tackle and didn’t bring back Peters until they needed to replace Brooks. 

Brooks, by the way, said last week that he’ll be happy to offer Peters any help he can. … He just doesn’t think Peters will really need it. 

If Peters does need help, there are plenty of people around to lean on. Peters is playing between two Pro Bowlers in Kelce and Lane Johnson. And Kelce said Seumalo has also been a big resource for Peters. 

And Peters is still a big resource for this entire O-line. 

“Yeah, it’s definitely going to make me better in some ways,” Kelce said. “He’s got so much experience, so much knowledge from playing the game. … This is a great learning experience for both of us. I’m going to try to impart as much wisdom as I have playing center. I think all three of us talking about things, how things happen on the interior. 

“I’m excited to see how all three of us grow and get better and how we go about having success.” 

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Eagles to open season in Washington without fans in stands

Eagles to open season in Washington without fans in stands

If you were planning on driving down I-95 for the Eagles’ season opener in Washington, you can forget it. 

The Washington Football Team on Wednesday morning announced that their home games at FedExField will be played without fans. That obviously begins in one month and one day, on Sept. 13, when Washington is scheduled to host the Eagles in the opener. 

Washington said it had developed a “comprehensive health and safety plan” but this decision “comes out of an abundance of caution due to the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

It’s not a surprise. At this point, it would be pretty surprising to see NFL fans in seats throughout the league, but those decisions will be left up to individual states, cities and teams. 

In Philly, it’s still up in the air, although it seems unlikely the Linc will have fans. 

In July, Philadelphia Department of Health commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy released a statement saying the Eagles would “be allowed to play, although without crowds.”

Then the next day officials issued another statement, calling the situation “fluid” and seemingly leaving open the possibility for fans in the 2020 season. 

The Eagles already gave their season ticket holders the ability to opt out of the 2020 season. 

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