NFC East

Eagles ranked as a top 10 roster by ProFootballFocus 

Eagles ranked as a top 10 roster by ProFootballFocus 

As the Eagles get ready for the 2020 season, there are again high expectations. And why wouldn’t there be? The Birds have a talented roster and they’ve made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. 

In its annual ranking of the 32 rosters across the NFL, ProFootballFocus ranks the Eagles at No. 9.

Here’s what PFF said about the 2020 Eagles: 

Biggest strength: The Eagles are one of the strongest teams in the NFL in the trenches. As a team, they finished the season with PFF's highest-graded offensive line, and their defensive line ranked fourth behind only the Steelers, 49ers and Rams. The defensive line is a group that should continue to improve with the additions of Javon Hargrave and a healthy Malik Jackson.

Biggest weakness: Linebacker is still a question mark for Philadelphia. Nathan Gerry figures to be atop the depth chart after more than 600 snaps of average play in 2019, but there's much less clarity behind him. Can T.J. Edwards break out after earning an 83.4 overall grade on just over 100 snaps last season? Will Jatavis Brown win a starting job after shaky play led to his role getting significantly reduced in 2019 with the Chargers? Rookie Davion Taylor will have a chance at playing time early, too. It's a group that still doesn't have much definition on what should be an improved defense overall.

X factor for 2020: Darius Slay‘s PFF grade in 2019 doesn't represent the kind of player that he has been throughout his career. The first thing to note is that he played a difficult role in Detroit, consistently shadowing the opposing team's best receiver in man coverage. Despite that, Slay came in as the fourth-most valuable cornerback in the NFL in 2014-18 per PFF WAR (wins above replacement), and his 74 forced incompletions over that stretch were the most in the NFL. Expect him to bounce back and give a big boost to that secondary.

The Eagles were the fifth-ranked team in the NFC behind the Saints, 49ers, Buccaneers and Cowboys. In fact, here are the eight spots before them: 

1. Ravens
2. Saints
3. 49ers
4. Chiefs 
5. Buccaneers
6. Cowboys 
7. Bills
8. Titans 

Let’s take a look at each of those sections in the Eagles’ blurb from PFF: 

Strength: This will make Howie Roseman and the front office happy. They build this team with the lines in mind and it shows. With the addition of Hargrave — and with Malik Jackson coming back — that defensive line has some real potential in 2020. If you’re looking at other strengths, the Eagles obviously have one at the tight end position. They have the best 1-2 combo in the NFL. They also have a quarterback who was playing at an extremely high level late last season and a running back primed to have a huge second season. 

Weakness: Yeah, it’s fair to say the linebacker position is a question mark. But the Eagles would argue that in the modern NFL they rarely have three linebackers on the field and more and more they don’t even have two. Linebacker is a concession by this front office; they chose to use money in other areas. They might lack there right now but Davion Taylor has huge potential as a raw third-rounder.  If you’re looking at other weaknesses, the loss of Brandon Brooks is huge. He was PFF’s top-ranked offensive lineman last year and they’re likely replacing him with Matt Pryor, who doesn’t have much experience. And losing Malcolm Jenkins is a big deal as well. 

X-factor 2020: Yeah, the addition of Slay is a huge one, but so is the addition of Hargrave. Those two could really help the Eagles defense force more turnovers in 2020. 

So are the Eagles in the right spot? 

Yeah, I think they’re in about the right spot. But you can certainly argue about the other teams around them. 

If you were looking at this like a power ranking, you have other teams in the NFC that could be ahead of the Eagles. The Packers and Seahawks, specifically, come to mind. And if this was a power ranking, the fact that the Eagles are coming off three straight playoff appearances should matter too. 

The big question with this is about the NFC East. PFF ranks the Cowboys at 6 and the Eagles at 9. Are the Cowboys really more talented than the Eagles? That’s a tough sell for me, especially when you consider that in last year’s rankings, PFF had the Eagles at 4 and the Cowboys at 12. The Eagles split with the Cowboys last year but beat them in December on their way to winning the division. 

This offseason, I think the Eagles improved more. Sure the Eagles lost Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Howard, Ronald Darby and Kamu Grugier-Hill. But they also added Javon Hargrave, Darius Slay, are expected to get a healthy DeSean Jackson back and they made 10 draft picks. The Cowboys lost Byron Jones, Robert Quinn and Randall Cobb. I like CeeDee Lamb, but the Eagles got a first-round receiver too. 

I know this ranking is purely about roster talent, so coaching staff doesn’t play a role. But that’s another important thing to remember about the NFC East in 2020. The Eagles bring back their head coach/play caller and their defensive coordinator. The other three teams in the division are starting fresh.

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NFL Rumors: How a Jamal Adams trade could change NFC playoff picture

NFL Rumors: How a Jamal Adams trade could change NFC playoff picture

The 2020 NFC East race is expected to be a tightly-contested battle between the Eagles and the Cowboys, as it's been for the last few years.

Right now, it's hard to pick a team with a clear advantage. But if one team were to add an extra All-Pro defender, that might tip the scale.

So Eagles fans should be paying close attention to the recent Jamal Adams trade rumors, which heated up on Thursday night when former New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers reported contract extension talks between Adams and his current team, the Jets, had reached a "stalemate" and hinted that a trade might be incoming:

It's been interesting to see how former Eagles front office guru Joe Douglas has handled his first messy negotiation with a star player as the Jets' general manager.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, one of the most likely teams to make a move for Adams, 24, would be the Cowboys.

ProFootballTalk's Charean Williams has reported on multiple occasions that Dallas has interest in Adams, himself a Dallas native, and she echoed those reports again Thursday

Adams was the subject of trade chatter heading into last year’s trade deadline, and the Cowboys showed interest.

The Cowboys' pass defense was already solid in 2019, but adding Adams to their secondary would turn an afterthought into one of the team's most prized units.

And it wouldn't be ideal for the Eagles, who are hoping to stretch the field more in 2020 with a healthy DeSean Jackson and the addition of Marquise Goodwin.

Is an Adams trade enough to turn the division title over to Dallas? It's hard to say, but it definitely doesn't help things. He would've ranked second on the Cowboys' defense in 2019 in sacks - as a safety! - and would've tied for the team lead in forced fumbles.

Long story short: Eagles fans, and fans of teams around the NFC, should be hoping that Douglas and the Jets find a way to smooth things over with Adams.

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Carson Wentz snubbed, Dak Prescott loved in wild new NFL Top 100 players ranking

carson-wentz-dak-prescott.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Carson Wentz snubbed, Dak Prescott loved in wild new NFL Top 100 players ranking

We're still waiting for one or two dominoes to fall - including right here in Philadelphia - but the "big moves" portion of the NFL's offseason is largely over.

Which means it's time for NFL analysts and experts to start looking in earnest at 2020, including sorting through who we expect to have big seasons.

Over at CBS Sports, Pete Prisco tossed together a tried-and-true list ranking the 100 best players in the league for next season. Six Eagles players landed on the list, a solid representation for a potential playoff team, but there was one glaring ommission that Philly fans probably want to have a talk about:

No Carson Wentz.

Seriously.

The list included 10 quarterbacks, from Patrick Mahomes at No. 1 overall to Kirk Cousins - yep, he's on the list - at No. 86, but Wentz is left off.

It's a bold (is bold the right word?) choice that turns downright disrespectful when you scroll to No. 46, where you'll find Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prisco begins his Prescott explanation by citing his nearly 5,000 yards, as if volume stats like cumulative yards indicate a QB's quality. Prescott had a great 2019 - but so did Wentz, throwing just three fewer TDs and four fewer INTs. Let's look at their careers to date:

Prescott: 1.51 TD/game, 0.56 INT/game, 7.6 yds/attempt, 65.8% completion

Wentz: 1.73 TD/game, 0.62 INT/game, 6.9 yds/attempt, 63.8% completion

Over the course of a 16-game season, Wentz averages 3.5 more touchdowns and one more interception than Prescott. The completion percentage gap is negligible, and Prescott wins the yards-per-attempt battle, which would likely be much closer if Wentz had been able to make use of deep threat DeSean Jackson for more than one game in 2019.

And these are just the stats. Let's not forget what Wentz did as a leader of a beleaguered football team en route to an improbable postseason berth, beating Prescott head-to-head, at the end of last season.

Wentz and Prescott are clearly two young and exciting quarterbacks that win games, and who any team would be thrilled to build around. That Prisco put Prescott at No. 46, and left Wentz out of the Top 100, is an obvious injustice, one likely built around perceived injury concerns that don't align with reality.

For what it's worth, here are the six Eagles included in the list:

30. Lane Johnson
54. Fletcher Cox
55. Brandon Brooks
68. Zach Ertz
76. Jason Kelce
96. Darius Slay

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