Eagles

Nick Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Carson Wentz

Nick Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Carson Wentz

I’ve heard this a lot over the last few months: The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles. 

It’s a very true statement, but still has flaws. 

And before we get too far into this, I want to offer a disclaimer. What Foles did in last year’s playoffs was incredible. He’ll go down as an all-time great Eagle and deserves all the credit in the world for getting it done and becoming the Super Bowl MVP. 

But the problem with “The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles” is two-fold. 

First, it neglects the incredible contributions Carson Wentz made to winning that Super Bowl by playing at an MVP level before going down in December. 

Second, it makes it seem like it's a real possibility the Eagles could repeat with Foles, even if Wentz doesn’t return to form. 

This is going to seem obvious, but apparently, it’s not: the Eagles need Wentz. 

Let’s start with the first of those two points. Because of how amazing Foles was in the playoffs, it’s easy to forget just how good Wentz was in 13 starts. He wasn’t just good, he was MVP-of-the-league good. A little while back, Reuben Frank dove back into some incredible Wentz stats (see story).

Now, we’ll never know if Wentz would have been able to pull off the kind of magic Foles did in the playoffs the same way we’ll never know if Foles would have been able to lead the Eagles to an 11-2 record through 13 games. But, at least for me, I have an easier time believing that Wentz could have lived up to Foles’ level of play than Foles’ playing at an MVP level through most of the regular season. 

Sure, Foles dunked in the playoffs, but Wentz provided the alley-oop. Wentz was the biggest part of the reason the Eagles won the NFC East. He was the reason they were able to overcome so many injuries to not only get a first-round bye, but to also earn homefield advantage in the playoffs. Imagine what happens if the Eagles have to play a wildcard game or have to travel to Atlanta or Minnesota. If the Eagles don’t have that bye week, can Brandon Graham heal in time for that wild-card game? Maybe not. 

So maybe they still make it through the playoffs, but Wentz definitely made the road much easier. 

The second part of this might be hard to swallow after Foles has been called the greatest insurance policy in the NFL for months. That’s pretty true as well. As far as backup quarterbacks go, having a Super Bowl MVP is pretty good. 

But there’s a reason the Eagles view Wentz, not Foles, as their future. There’s a reason that before the Super Bowl, when the team took a team photo, Wentz was the only player not in position by jersey number. He instead was in the direct center, as the face of the franchise. He’s special. 

Last week, I was on Philly Sports Talk and guest co-host Danny Pommells suggested that Foles start the opener because of the fear of rushing Wentz back too soon. I understood the point, but disagreed. In this league, there aren’t any easy games; there’s no time to wait for a healthy player to get healthy. Because if Wentz gets cleared by doctors, there’s no decision to make. He’s still the starter because he’s the better player. 

And that isn’t a shot on Foles, saying that one of the best quarterbacks in the league — a guy who could go down as an all-time great — is better than him. It’s just the truth. Although, it seems recently we’ve been blinded by the bling of 219 diamonds in a Super Bowl ring. 

Based on history, look for Eagles to draft a lineman first again

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Based on history, look for Eagles to draft a lineman first again

Since 1991, the Eagles have had 25 first-round draft picks.

Three receivers. Two quarterbacks. One cornerback.

And 19 linemen.

This is Howie Roseman’s philosophy. It’s Joe Douglas’s philosophy. It was Andy Reid and Tom Heckert’s philosophy and, even before Big Red got here, it was Tom Modrak’s philosophy.

Build up the lines first.

And nobody has done it more than the Eagles.

Since 1991, the Eagles have drafted more linemen in the first round than any other team.

They’ve taken 11 defensive linemen — tied for most in the league during the last 28 drafts — and they’ve taken eight offensive linemen, third-most behind the Seahawks and Lions.

The most combined linemen?

19 … Eagles [8 OL, 11 DL]
17 … 49ers [6 OL, 11 DL]
16 … Rams [6 OL, 10 DL]
14 … Seahawks [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Lions [9 OL, 5 DL]
14 … Saints [6 OL, 8 DL]
13 … Patriots [6 OL, 7 DL]
13 … Cardinals [6 OL, 7 DL]
12 … Jets [2 OL, 10 DL]
12 … Buccaneers [3 OL, 9 DL]
12 … Vikings [8 OL, 4 DL]

The only non-linemen the Eagles have taken in the first round since 1991?

Quarterbacks Donovan McNabb in 19991 and Carson Wentz in 2016, both with the No. 2 pick. Receivers Freddie Mitchell in 2001, Jeremy Maclin in 2009 and Nelson Agholor in 2015. And cornerback Lito Sheppard in 2002.

And you know what? There’s a good chance they’ll take another one this year at No. 25.

Much of the rest of the league has adopted the Andy Reid philosophy to build up the lines first and then fill in the blanks.

Most mocks drafts have 17 to 19 linemen going in the first round this year — more than half.

During Roseman’s years as general manager — 2010 through 2018, minus 2015 — the Eagles have taken four defensive linemen (Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett), two offensive linemen (Danny Watkins, Lane Johnson) and Wentz.

With picks in the first half of the draft?

The only non-linemen since 1989 are McNabb and Wentz.

You’re always a product of the people you’re around, and just growing up in this environment and this system and where coach Reid was and someone that really put a huge emphasis on that, it was something that stuck," Roseman said. "We won a lot of games with that philosophy. We try to study what other teams are doing, what successful teams are doing, and you see, it’s important obviously to build along the lines and sometimes you say that, but you have to reflect it also with your actions.

Roseman first joined the Eagles in 2000 as a salary cap intern, so he was around Reid from Corey Simon through Cox.

And Douglas, Roseman’s No. 1 adviser and the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, shares his philosophy to build from the inside out:

Joe and I, when we started talking about building teams, it was quickly apparent that we believe in the same things. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t disagreements on certain players, that doesn’t mean there are other things that we kind of see differently because of his background and how he was raised in this business, but that adds to it.

The first round of this draft is jam-packed with talented defensive, and there are some very good o-line prospects as well.

The Eagles don’t generally draft for need, but of their five projected 2019 offensive line starters and four projected d-line starters, only Isaac Seumalo will be under 29 when OTAs start next month.

So you can hope for a receiver, a running back or a cornerback. Based on what we know about Howie? Based on recent history? Based on what just may make the most sense?

It’ll be a lineman. Again.

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Eagles open as big favorites over Washington in Week 1

Eagles open as big favorites over Washington in Week 1

If you quickly thought “W” when you saw the Eagles were hosting Washington at the Linc to open up the 2019 regular season, you’re not the only one. 

The Eagles opened up as eight-point favorites on FanDuel. That’s pretty consistent with other sports books too. I’ve also seen them at 8 1/2. 

That eight-point spread is the biggest of Week 1 in the NFL, but that shouldn’t be too surprising. Maybe if Washington trades for Josh Rosen, that changes. Maybe if they draft a quarterback in the first round, that changes. But for now? That seems about right. 

Washington fell apart last year, but the Eagles beat them 28-13 in Week 13 and 24-0 in Week 17. In the last two seasons, the Eagles are 4-0 against the Skins and have beaten them by an average of 15 1/2 points per game. If that continues, they'll cover easily. 

Elsewhere in NFL Week 1, the Seahawks are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Bengals, the Cowboys are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Giants and the Saints are 7 1/2-point favorites over the Texans. Those three favorites are also at home. 

Taking a quick look at FanDuel’s futures odds, the Eagles are tied for the seventh-longest odds to win the Super Bowl at +1,600. That means if you bet $100, you’d win $1,600. 

Here are current Super Bowl odds: 

Patriots: +700
Chiefs: +800
Saints: +850
Rams: +900
Browns: +1400
Chargers: +1400
Bears: +1600
Colts: +1600
Eagles: +1600
Packers: +1800
Vikings: +2000
Steelers: +2000
Cowboys: +2300
Falcons: +2600
Texans: +2800
Seahawks: +2900
49ers: +3000
Jaguars: +3300
Ravens: +3400
Panthers: +5000
Titans: +5000
Raiders: +5500
Broncos: +6000
Giants: +6000
Jets: +6000
Buccaneers: +6000
Bills: +8000
Lions: +8000
Redskins: +8000
Bengals: +10000
Cardinals: +11000
Dolphins: +12000

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