WHAT. A. GAME! After a night of reflection, I can’t help but be excited. The Eagles are playing in the Super Bowl! And guys, I feel pretty good about their chances. They’ve got dominant groups on both of their lines.
Doug Pederson is coach of the year, I know Sean McVay is going to win, but it’s really Doug. He beat McVay head to head, then beat the team that bounced him from the playoffs, and just hung 38 on the best defense in football with Nick Foles. But that’s another argument, I want to talk about Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas, unsung heroes for the Eagles.
Roseman deserves Executive of the Year and Douglas deserves a raise and possibly the official GM title. In one offseason they’ve completely morphed this roster into championship caliber, all while having a small amount of cap space. Their fingerprints are all over this winning season, coming up especially big in tonight’s win. Let’s dive in and check out their moves and how they impacted tonight’s game.
Nick Foles was brought back as an insurance policy for franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, while his price tag was a little high it’s proven to be worth every penny as he’s played extremely well during the last 6 quarters of football. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were both brought in through free agency this offseason, Jeffery made a number of tough catches last night and scored two touchdowns while Smith added a long touchdown as well.
The Eagles have turned into a dominant running attack after starting off weak in that department. LeGarrette Blount was brought in as a cheap veteran option to pair with Darren Sproles as the change of pace and 3rd down back. Blount led the team in rushing, but Sproles went down with a season ending injury early. Roseman traded a 4th round pick for Jay Ajayi to help compensate for the loss, Ajayi responded by becoming the lead back as of late and playing like a man on a mission the last two weeks. Corey Clement rounds out this talented group as a reliable runner and pass catcher, he’s been an excellent find as an undrafted free agent.
One of their best additions has been kicker Jake Elliot who was added as a placeholder after Caleb Sturgis went down during week one. Elliot responded by immediately going down as a Philadelphia legend when he nailed a franchise record 61 yard field goal to beat the New York Giants. He’s struggled some inside the 40, but he’s been an absolute weapon from long range and has been clutch in key situations. Unfortunately for Sturgis he’s been Wally Pipped, fortunately for the Eagles they now have their kicker of the future with possibly the strongest leg in the league.
The best unit on the team going into the offseason was arguably the defensive line, Roseman and Douglas still chose to add to it. They traded for nose tackle Tim Jernigan from the Ravens to pair with Fletcher Cox, who is arguably the best DT in football, to form the best inside duo in the game. They then added savy veteran end Chris Long for depth. But they didn’t stop there, they used their first round pick on defensive end Derek Barnett, who looks to be a future star in this league.
Chris Long has provided consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the post season, he was part of the momentum changing play for the Eagles tonight. While rushing Case Keenum he batted his arm, forcing him to throw an interception to Patrick Robinson who returned it for a touchdown. The Vikings never scored after that play.
Going into the this season the Eagles secondary was looked at as the biggest liability, especially at the cornerback position. This was addressed by adding Patrick Robinson on a 1 year deal, at the age of 31 he’s enjoying his best season as a pro, he’s been unreal in the slot and he’s come up with multiple interceptions. The team also traded for Ronald Darby out of Buffalo to be their number 1 corner. Darby got injured early in the season, he was replaced with rookie Rasul Douglas who looks to have a bright future when called on to start one day. Since Darby has been back he’s had ups and downs, after struggling early in the game he came up with some key stops including batting a ball that was intercepted by Corey Graham who is yet another veteran free agent signing this year.
The Eagles have dealt with a plethora of injuries in all three phases of the game. They’ve lost Carson Wentz, Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos, and Caleb Sturgis. They’ve just kept winning, no matter who went down, they’ve kept rolling. The season was over when Peters went down, and then surely over after losing Wentz. But it wasn’t, because Roseman and Douglas have built a roster that’s one of the deepest and most talented in football. The most impressive feat? 20 of their 22 starters are signed through next season as well.
This team is ready to win right now, and of all the teams that could have played the Patriots I truly believe they have the best shot to win. Much of that is thanks to Roseman and Douglas for stock piling the defensive line to create an excellent rotation that led the league in QB pressures. They’ll need to continue that practice if they want to have any chance in dethroning Tom Brady. One more game for the underdogs from Philadelphia!