The Most Indispensable Eagle

ESPN.com bloggers are currently taking a look at which players teams can least afford to lose to injury.

For the Eagles, Dan Graziano goes with LeSean McCoy:

When McCoy went down with an injury in the second half of last season, backup Bryce Brown showed plenty of explosiveness and big-play ability. Unfortunately, he also showed a disturbing tendency to fumble the ball at the worst possible times. Even if Brown were more reliable, McCoy would be a difficult player to replace. His running style is unique among the star running backs in the league today — no one makes quicker cuts or finds holes more efficiently. And considering how questionable the Eagles’ quarterback situation is and the extent to which Chip Kelly’s offense is expected to lean on the run game and the short-passing game, there’s no player on the Eagles’ offense more important to their point-scoring prospects this season than their star running back.

This is a pretty difficult question to answer for the 2013 Birds. The case for McCoy is certainly a strong one. He’s been the Eagles’ most productive and most talented player. Then again, Bryce Brown ran for 387 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry in four starts last year replacing McCoy. If he shows even a slight improvement in his second season, the drop-off might not be crushing.

The other offensive player who warrants a mention is Jason Peters. We saw last year how his Achilles’ injury hurt the Eagles. The circumstances were exaggerated since Demetress Bell proved to be such a disaster, but a Peters injury in 2013 would shake up the entire offensive line. Lane Johnson or Todd Herremans would likely take his place, which would produce a domino effect. If Johnson went to left tackle, the Eagles could slide Herremans over to right tackle. But that would mean Danny Watkins or another backup at right guard.

The other option would be to go with second-year player Dennis Kelly at right tackle and keep Herremans at guard. Either way, the line would go from a potential strength to a question mark.

Jason Kelce is an under-the-radar option. The Eagles still have to get their backup center situation sorted out, but Kelce is expected to make protection calls, meaning his absence would be felt by the entire unit, which is learning a new offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Fletcher Cox is the first name that comes to mind. He’s coming off a strong rookie season and is far and away the Eagles’ best defensive lineman. An injury to Cox would make the Eagles even thinner than they already are up front.

DeMeco Ryans is in the conversation too. The veteran makes the calls on defense and was very productive in 2012. Behind him are guys like Jason Phillips and Jamar Chaney.

The under-the-radar choice would be Connor Barwin, not because he’s the most talented player on defense, but because the Eagles don’t have another outside linebacker on the roster with 3-4 NFL experience. Losing Barwin could mean quite a few scheme tweaks for defensive coordinator Billy Davis.

Your thoughts?

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  • MediaMike

    Jason Peters, bar none, is the best LT in the NFL. I look forward to Peters and Johnson shutting out that overrated one trick pony JPP twice a season for a few years in a row! Shady is the man, but RBs are easily replaced. The best RB in last year’s draft was taken in the 3rd round by Baltimore. The best RB is this year’s draft was taken in the end of the 2nd round by Green Bay. Shady was a 2nd rounder.

    Jason Kelce is very important, but vastly overrated at the same time. He makes good calls and plays good positional football, but is seriously lacking strength. That position could be upgraded.

    • illadelphia21

      Great post

  • TheGreatJB99

    Its easily Peters.

  • Engwrite

    Peters. Why? This will be a running team. Why? The expected offense (discussed in these comments ad nauseum) will present a choice to the Defense. They will choose to defend against a pass as long as Desean Jackson is on the field. Both McCoy and Brown will do great, as long as they hang on to the ball.

    • MediaMike

      Correct. And Peters / Mathis is the best left side of an o-line as I’ve seen in the NFL in years!

      • Engwrite

        Actually got to give some consideration to Desean. His mere presence on the field may make him the most valuable piece even if he only catches 50 passes the whole year.

  • GoEagles

    Obviously Jason Peters. Look at what we did with Peters and how horrendous we did without him

  • AZ_Eaglesfan

    GJ Kinne?

  • Mr. Wu

    Kurt Coleman……. oh you said IN-despensible……..nevermind.

  • Philly0312

    Much better insight and thoughts than Dan Gs column.

    • MediaMike

      Graziano is a giant female reproductive part. He NEVER logs on to discuss anything with the people who post on that blog.

  • Benzino

    I have to go with Peters as well. Even if he’s not injured, his play must be at it’s top form in order for Shady and Byrce to succeed. If Peters play drops off due to him not being 100% then our offense will struggle no matter who is QB or RB or even WR for that matter.
    When healthy and playing at his best, he is the cog that keeps our offense clicking. He pass protects well and makes it easier for the other O-linemen and by far, our best run blocker. Who else has his size ans strength and the ability to block dwonfield as good as Peters? Nobody else on this team is more important than Jason and it’s not even close.

  • GEagle

    How could this even be a question? Lol Mike Vick is clearly the most indespensable Eagle. gernade THROWN!!!!! Lol I joke I joke, I kid, I kid

    Connar Barwin. Is hands Down The most indispensable Eagle…OLB is one of the most important position on this defense and he happens to be the only player we have on this roster who we can count on to know what he is doing at the position..As opposed to losing Shady who happens to be a part of our deepest position.

    The entire offensive line and fletche Cox is pretty damn crucial,,,Demeco is a godsend who we can not afford to lose, and since I expect Kendrick’s to be such a valuable weapon, the drop off between him and Chaney in my expectation would be drastic. WIL is one of our playmakers on this D, losing Kendrick’s would be horrific.

    the “Brilliant” (lol) Graziano is already saying that he expects Maclin to walk in free agency

  • joethomas215

    I loved what Bryce did last year, especially against the cowboys, minus the fumble to end it, but I would be cautious against getting too excited. 347 yards came in the first 2 games, followed by 40 in the next two. He’s most effective between the numbers, then he decided to try and take it outside more often then not, and wasn’t impressive. I think he has great potential and can very well be a great back in the league, I’m just saying I would like to see more from Brown before really labeling him anything, and Im keeping in mind apparently this guy won the back up spot, had two monster starts, and alot of nice runs and impressive skill set as an out of shape inexperienced rookie, thrust into a starting role in Philly, behind a sad excuse for an Oline. Potential is through the roof, but how many stories in the NFL started hot and fizzled. Hopefully the fumbles can be attributed to lack of experience and his shape, I’ll wait to judge him on them too. This year he needs to show some consistency, to really be.considered a top complement to Shady, but he definitely has the talent to do so.

    • GEagle

      All true points…but I don’t really think it matters why Bryce was fumbling. plenty of really good running backs fumbled a lot as rookies for a various of different reasons and have gone on to correct the issue. Chip is a demanding, detail Oriented teacher, and Duce seems like e rides the RBs pretty hard, and it all bodes well for Bryce figuring it out and eliminating the mistakes..

      Seeing what an Inshape, no longer rusty Bryce Brown looks like is very exciting..Can’t wait to see what Bryce looks like in camp and preseason

      • joethomas215

        I’m not concerned with the fumbling, I’ll wait to see if they become a problem again this year, I expect he can fix that, Im just not ready to assume he would be a capable replacement for Shady, or a top back till he shows more consitency. Like I said to I believe he got the talent, and can very well give us the best 1-2 punch in the league, but he has to show he can be closer to the runner he was against Dallas and Carolina, then he was against Cincinnati and Tampa.

  • GEagle

    Tim n Sheil…how do you guys feel about NFL network blowhard Jamie Duke taking shots at you guys with one of the top 5 stupidest comments of the offseason?

    You guys can not let him skate by off the hook for that one…GET EM!!!!!
    ..
    for those that don’t know what I’m talking about, bloggingthebeast.com put up the video of the “brilliant” Dukes lol

  • BG

    Frequent reader, first time commenter. Good work as always, to one of my favorite Eagles blogs.

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

    Offense: Peters, Defense: Barwin (Demeco close 2nd). They are the respective keystones of their unit

  • prowler

    Shady and Peters…call it a tie. Chip needs an elite back for his O more than Andy’s pass-happy O did, Also, Shady’s production and consistency went down big-time with last year’s mess of an OL. That chain-reaction mess started with Peters’ achilles.

  • Absecon

    No question Peters. Desean is useless w/o a solid line….

  • Pennguino

    Offense: (Assumption of a running team 55/45 and a short-mid throwing team)
    The talent level behind Shady is better than any other position besides WR. There would be a drop off but not much.
    Desean is a deep threat but not a fast traffic guy. We won’t be a deep threat team and the TE’s will be featured.
    If we lost Jason Peters again it would hurt a lot. I think the rook would get moved to the left side and Smeagol would man the RT spot.
    Center is the thinnest position on offense. Van is the current backup and he has trouble with shotgun snaps. We will primarily be in shotgun. The rook from AZ has experience in an up tempo spread offense and has played with Foles before. The AZ offensive line was as bad as ours last year.
    I would have to go with Kelce due to the lack up adequate depth. A TE can’t assist the center nor can a RB chip a DT on his way out into a route. A gap blitzes will kill us all year.

    Defense:
    Hard to say if anyone on the DB side would even qualify at this point. I look at it as a bunch of guys and I hope somebody emerges and plays well.
    DLine is well stocked. Yes, Cox is the star of that line and it would be a huge setback but he is replaceable and you can modify the scheme to cover up the drop off in talent. Even go back to a 4-3 more often
    Barwin is the key to this whole over/under 3-4 transition. We lose him you will have a lot of CBs manning up. The safeties will have to cover down in the mid range routes and to provide support for Graham and Cole. I think Brandon will replace Cole during the season. Mathews is a better cover LB than Cole but worse when engaged with blockers.
    I honestly see Cole in a reduced role. I think he will be a liability with athletic TEs and RBs out of the backfield. I don’t think he has the speed and agility to hang. I have visions of Levon Kirkland and Trotter trying to cover crossing routes.

    So out of the Offense and Defense, I feel Kelce would be the hardest to replace. We saw last year when Vick took over the line calls. He gave up 7 sacks to NO. The line will suffer greatly and it is harder to scheme around a C than it is everywhere else. There is no help to the tackle because the guard is covering down on the center.

  • Maggie

    I suggest that the most indispensable Eagles at the moment are Mr. Gamble and every member of the Head Trainer’s staff.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    def shady for that…

  • EaglesFan99

    I’d say LeSean McCoy. But other than him, I might get a lot of heat for this, but how about DeSean Jackson? Even when he’s not productive on the field, he stretches the defense. He opens things up for Maclin too. When Jackson has 100 yards or more, the Eagles have never lost.

  • Webfoot73

    I would say anyone that reduces depth on the defense. CK has learned to take his foot off the gas with the offense to help the defense somewhat, but with NFL roster restrictions, any defensive position that is light will get lit up.

  • GEagle

    Yes sir…for a coach that really values mismatch manipulation, space, numbers game…Desean is an extremely important weapon. Desean hasn’t been producing like an Elite WR, but he has always commanded the defensive Tender, love and care from opponents that Elite WRs command..It was a travesty these past two years how Andy used Desean. he never made an effort to move him around and free him up, he never a DC’s pay for all the attention they were giving Desean…outside of a few screens, just kept running him down field right into double coverage, over and over again…..
    So excited to see that change under the Chippah

  • GEagle

    Wish you would feed him to your pigs

  • GEagle

    Graziano? Lol you certainly aren’t setting the bar very high my friend

  • Warhound

    The phrase you were looking for is “tender loving care”. Oh, and it’s Jason Peters.

  • soundbonz

    Two that come immediately to mind are 49ers and Patriots. And also the one LT that I would rank consistently better than Peters is Joe Thomas in Cleveland. It’s not my intention to pooh pooh the team, but they’re 4-12 and 8-8 in consecutive years. This is reality check time for us fans, not blowing smoke up our collective butts by proclaiming we’re the best at anything.

  • GEagle

    Every time he opens his mouth I want to punch myself in the nuts for listening