Superlatives for the 2018 Eagles season
Offensive MVP — Nick Foles
How can the Eagles' offensive MVP be someone who played only seven games? When he's Nick Foles. This could easily be Zach Ertz, who had a record-setting season, but the way Foles' presence turned around a season can't be ignored.
The Eagles were 6-7 when Foles, last year’s Super Bowl MVP, replaced injured Carson Wentz, and with the season on the line he won three straight regular-season games — two over playoff-bound teams — then won his fourth straight playoff game in Chicago over a 12-win Bears team.
In all, Foles went 5-2 this year, with three wins over teams with double-digit wins. Foles, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are the only QBs to win a playoff game in each of the last two seasons. He really single-handedly revived a dormant Eagles season. (USA Today Images)
Defensive MVP — Fletcher Cox
Tempted to pick Malcolm Jenkins, who served a dual role this year, holding down the deep secondary at a high level and also playing babysitter to the Eagles’ constantly changing cast of young cornerbacks.
But Fletcher Cox gets the nod after his fourth straight Pro Bowl season. He recorded a career-high 10½ sacks, including three in the Eagles’ must-win in Washington on the last day of the regular season, and was his usual dominating self against the run.
Cox was only the second homegrown Eagle in the last 20 years with double-digit sacks in a season, joining Trent Cole, who did it four times. And what a warrior he was in New Orleans, gutting it out despite a serious foot injury. An all-time great Eagle. (USA Today Images)
Offensive Rookie of the Year — Dallas Goedert
Why would the Eagles draft a tight end in the second round when they already have Zach Ertz? Beause Dallas Goedert is really, really good.
Even though Ertz caught 116 passes, an NFL record for tight ends, there was plenty of action for Goedert, who was 33 for 334 with four TDs in the regular season, plus a touchdown in the wild-card win over the Bears. That’s 149 combined catches for Ertz and Goedert (150 for the Eagles’ tight ends, including one catch by Richard Rodgers).
Goedert ranked fourth among all rookie tight ends and fourth in Eagles history among rookie tight ends. (AP Images)
Defensive Rookie of the Year — Avonte Maddox
Avonte Maddox didn’t play the first few weeks of the season, bounced around the slot and safety for a bit, then missed a few weeks before finally finding a home at outside corner. Maddox was the Eagles’ first fourth-round pick to start on defense in a playoff season since linebacker Ray Farmer in 1996.
Like any young cornerback — and Maddox is only 22 — he struggled at times and did have an uneven postseason. But he showed so much promise as a rookie fourth-round pick that it’s hard to imagine he won’t be somewhere in the starting lineup next year. (USA Today Images)
Assistant Coach of the Year — Cory Undlin
When the season began, Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby were starters and Sidney Jones was the third cornerback. McLeod, Mills and Darby all wound up on injured reserve, and Jones was hurt much of the season, too, so Cory Undlin, the Eagles’ defensive backs coach, essentially had to prepare an entirely new secondary. After some mixing and matching, the Eagles got settled with Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc at corner and Corey Graham at safety alongside Malcolm Jenkins.
Fifteen different d-backs played for the Eagles and 13 started at least one game. Jenkins was the only constant. Undlin did a remarkable job teaching all the newcomers and keeping the secondary together and effective amid the injuries and chaos. (USA Today Images)
Comeback Player of the Year — Jason Peters
After missing the second half of last year with a torn ACL, Jason Peters faced an uncertain future. He was 35, he was going into his 15th season, he seemed perennially injured and he had watched as the Eagles won a Super Bowl with Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle.
Peters again was banged up this year but, playing with a torn biceps and a nagging quad injury, he came on strong late in the season and although he left a couple games early, he did start 16 games for only the fourth time since 2007.
And when the Eagles beat the Bears, Peters walked off the field with his first career postseason win. His future is uncertain, but his place in Eagles history isn’t. (AP Images)
Most Improved — Rasul Douglas
Sometimes with young players it just takes a while for everything to click, and for second-year cornerback Rasul Douglas, it happened after a poor game against the Cowboys, when Fletcher Cox called him aside and challenged him to raise his level of play.
Douglas, who also battled injuries, responded with a very strong performance the second half of the season. He led the Eagles with three interceptions and became a really big-time tackler as well. Douglas has five INTs in two seasons despite starting only 12 games during that span.
When he got banged up in New Orleans, the Eagles missed him badly. (USA Today Images)
Biggest Surprise — Cre'Von LeBlanc
Cre'Von LeBlanc was the find of the year for Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas and the Eagles’ scouting staff. After he was released by three teams, the Eagles — desperate for secondary help — snapped him up Nov. 5 after the Lions released him from their practice squad.
Following a couple rocky weeks, LeBlanc took ownership of the nickel slot position. The Eagles went 6-2 with LeBlanc on the field and held five of those eight teams to one or fewer passing touchdowns.
There are a lot of directions the Eagles can go next year in the secondary, but right now LeBlanc is the front-runner for the slot. (USA Today Images)
Biggest Disappointment — Sidney Jones
Before we get too far, let’s make it clear that it’s way too early to call Sidney Jones a bust. He’s 22 years old, this was his first real NFL season, and there was a reason he was projected as a first-round pick before he tore his Achilles at his pro day.
That said, you hoped to see more from last year’s second-round pick. He didn’t make much of an impact when he was healthy the first five weeks of the season and then really played sparingly the rest of the year as he battled hamstring issues.
Jones will have to battle for playing time in a suddenly crowded cornerback field next year. He needs to work on his tackling most of all. (AP Images)
Offensive Play of the Year — Nick Foles to Golden Tate
With the season on the line — a 4th-and-goal on the 2 with 61 seconds left and the Eagles trailing the Bears 15-10 — Nick Foles connected with newcomer Golden Tate for the game-winning touchdown. As special as the play was, what made it more remarkable is that Tate wasn’t sure what the play was because it was so loud in the stadium and he couldn’t hear Foles audible. But when he saw Foles roll out to his right, he knew what to do.
The touchdown was the first 4th-down go-ahead TD in the final minute of a playoff game in at least 25 years and sent the Eagles to New Orleans. (USA Today Images)
Defensive Play of the Year – Malcolm Jenkins INT
The Eagles were 4-6 and trailed the Giants 19-11 late in the second quarter at the Linc. The Giants had a 2nd-and-10 on the Eagles’ 27-yard line and were threatening to go up 26-11, but Malcolm Jenkins picked off Eli Manning at the 2-yard line, keeping the Eagles within one possession going into halftime.
The Eagles rallied and then won the game on Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal in the final seconds. Without Jenkins’ pick, the Giants at worst would likely have taken a 23-11 lead. That interception most likely saved the season. (USA Today Images)
Special Teams Play of the Year — Treyvon Hester
Treyvon Hester wasn’t exactly a household name before he tipped Cody Parkey’s potential game-winning field goal in the wild-card game against the Bears at Soldier Field. He began the season on the practice squad and his main claim to fame until then was recording his first career sack on Deshaun Watson in the win over the Texans.
But Hester saved the season with the first block of a potential last-minute go-ahead postseason field goal in at least 25 years. (AP Images)
Offensive Performance of the Year — Nick Foles vs. Texans
The Eagles had to beat the red-hot Texans, who had won 10 of their last 11 games, in Week 16 to remain in playoff contention, and Nick Foles was brilliant against Houston, completing 35 of 49 passes for a franchise-record 471 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in a 32-30 win at the Linc.
Foles became only the seventh QB in NFL history to complete 70 percent of his passes, throw for 470 or more yards and throw four touchdowns in a game. And the Eagles lived to see another day. (USA Today Images)
Defensive Performance of the Year — Fletcher Cox vs. Redskins
The situation was dire. To get into the playoffs, the Eagles had to not only beat the Redskins in Washington — where they had lost four of their last six games — but they also had to hope the Bears could somehow beat the Vikings in Minneapolis. The Bears held up their end of the deal and thanks in great part to Fletcher Cox, so did the Eagles.
Cox recorded his second career three-sack game and added three tackles for loss and three quarterbacks hits in the Eagles’ 24-0 win. (AP Images)