Eagles

The real reason the Eagles aren't very good right now

The real reason the Eagles aren't very good right now

Maybe they’re just not that good.

Maybe they’re just not that talented.

Maybe they just don’t have enough elite players.

Think about it. 

Nobody on this team is playing at an elite level. Not a soul.

And that's a tough way to win.

The older players the Eagles were counting heavily on are either hurt or their level of play has declined significantly (or both). The younger players they were counting heavily on are underachieving or regressing. 

So when things start going bad, there’s really nobody on either side of the ball to pull the Eagles out of it.

The usual defensive stars, guys like Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham haven’t been awful. But they sure haven’t made the game-changing plays you need from your best players.

The key guys on offense? Zach Ertz has decent numbers, Alshon Jeffery has been OK, Jordan Howard has been all right, Nelly is just kind of floating through. None of them has come close to making a huge impact.

The young guys? Miles Sanders has shown a nice knack for catching the ball and getting down the field, but it’s not like he’s taking over games. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside hasn’t done anything. Derek Barnett shows flashes but has made headlines more for his personal fouls and fines than his sacks. Andre Dillard, too early to say. The young corners? You know that story.

I thought both lines would dominate. Hasn’t happened. The defensive line hasn't gotten pressure, and the offensive line hasn't run blocked or or pass protected consistently.

Then there’s Carson.

He hasn’t been terrible. He certainly hasn’t gotten any help from the people around him, and his numbers are OK. He’s had stretches where he looks unstoppable. Flashes of brilliance.

But he also hasn’t been elite, and he’s the one guy more than anybody the Eagles really need to carry the team through rough stretches.

It’s only six games, and the Eagles are 3-3 in a division where nobody has a winning record, so anything’s possible. The Eagles still have time to get back to the top of the NFC. Heck, seven of the last nine times they’ve been 3-3, they’ve reached the playoffs.

But let’s be honest. The Eagles deserve every bit of that 3-3 record. They’re an average team right now with average talent.

Yeah, the Packers win was remarkable. To go into that building and win that game on a short week? Amazing.

But a loss to a Falcons team that’s now 1-5 cancels that out. And their wins other than the Packers? Over two one-win teams. 

At some point, and that point is growing closer, the focus has to turn from the secondary and wide receivers and pass rush and running game to Howie Roseman.

He built the Super Bowl roster — along with Joe Douglas — and he deserves all the accolades he got for that.

But the biggest challenge for any championship team — in any sport — is figuring out how to stay on top, and the only way to do that is to constantly replenish the roster with young talent and fill in the blanks with free agents.

Hasn’t happened.

Wentz is the only Pro Bowler the Eagles have drafted since 2013, and Chip Kelly obviously plays a small role in that as well because the 2015 draft was his, but in the big picture, the lack of young talent on this roster is alarming.

Not just OK players who may have a terrific game here and there. But young, elite, playmaking, impact, superstar talent.

You watch other NFL teams and you see these young stud cornerbacks and hot-shot wide receivers and eye-opening rookies and budding superstars.

It’s not happening here. The young guys are either not ready or never will be, the older guys are fading or hurt and the guys in between just haven’t been good enough.

If the season ended today, the Eagles wouldn’t have a slam-dunk Pro Bowler. Not one. Maybe Fletcher Cox would go because he always goes. Maybe Brandon Brooks. 

But right now, this is a team without a single guy playing at a superstar level.

Doug Pederson and his staff certainly deserve some of the blame for this uninspired six-game start. But it's not hard to wonder just how much talent they really have to work with.

There’s 10 games left. Plenty of time to go on a run, put together a winning streak, start playing like the Super Bowl contender a lot of people expected this team to be.

Remember, the Eagles lost by 14 in Seattle in 2017 and didn’t lose a meaningful game the rest of the year. They lost by 41 in New Orleans last year and then won six of their next seven.

The loss Sunday to the Vikings was only the Eagles’ third by more than seven points over the last three seasons, and they followed the first two with runs to the playoffs.

To do that again, the Eagles need elite play from their elite players.

And right now it’s fair to wonder how many of them they really have.

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Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

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NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

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