Eagles Wake-Up Call: Who’s Pro Bowl Worthy?

Nick Foles

Pro Bowl rosters will be announced tonight. With the new format, there is no AFC and NFC designation. The field is chosen, and then there will be a fantasy-style draft to determine the two teams.

I know – try to contain your excitement.




Mocking aside, the honor of being recognized as one of the best in the game is important and meaningful to most players. So below is a look at nine current Eagles who deserve to be mentioned in the conversation.

LeSean McCoy - He's a no-brainer. McCoy leads the NFL with 1,476 yards. Among the 30 running backs who have totaled at least 150 carries, only DeMarco Murray (5.4) has a higher yards-per-carry average than McCoy (5.1). His eight runs of 20+ yards are tied for third-most, and McCoy has only fumbled once, despite leading the league in carries (287).

Perhaps overlooked is that McCoy is having a career year as a receiver. Chip Kelly has been masterful at identifying mismatches for the Birds' running back, who has piled up 51 catches for 536 yards. He's averaging 10.5 yards per reception. As a point of reference, the great Brian Westbrook never averaged better than 10.1.

DeSean Jackson - He's got a good shot of getting selected. Jackson has set career highs with 79 catches and 1,304 yards. Only three receivers rank in the top-10 in both receiving yards and yards per catch: Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon and Jackson.

Overall, Jackson is eighth in receiving yards. Last year, eight wide receivers made the Pro Bowl.

Nick Foles - By any statistical measure, Foles deserves to go. He's first in passer rating (118.8) and yards per attempt (9.03). Barring a four-INT performance against the Cowboys, Foles will become the second passer in NFL history to throw 25 or more touchdowns with five or fewer interceptions in a season. Tom Brady (36 and 4 in 2010) is the other.

Last year, six QBs made the Pro Bowl. Peyton Manning is a lock. Aaron Rodgers has been banged-up, but was excellent before he got injured. Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson all have strong cases. Cam Newton too. And even though his numbers aren't there, Tom Brady warrants consideration.

Jason Kelce - He helped himself with an impressive showing on national TV against the Bears. Kelce has had some hiccups here and there, but overall has played at a high level, especially considering he was coming off a knee injury. Last year, four centers made the Pro Bowl. One was Maurkice Pouncey, who missed most of the season due to injury. And another was Jeff Saturday, who is no longer in the league. Kelce has a good shot to take one of their spots.

Evan Mathis - The Eagles' left guard has been receiving praise from places other than Pro Football Focus this season. He's finishing up an impressive three-year run where he's only missed one game. Mathis has been excellent in the run game and rarely has breakdowns in pass protection. Considering that six guards make it, the guess here is that he gets recognized this time around.

Jason Peters - He's battled a plethora of injuries, but has played well for most of the season. There have been some bumps in the road - the Chiefs game, the Vikings game - but Peters has provided stability at left tackle and is outstanding as a run blocker. Peters is a five-time Pro Bowler, and that reputation will help.

Fletcher Cox - He probably doesn't have the sack numbers (three on the season) to get in, but Cox has played at a high level and leads the team with 21 QB hurries (no other Eagle has more than 13). He's also been excellent against the run. Cox was asked to transition from last year's gap-shooting 4-3 role to a more disciplined, read-and-react style in this year's 3-4. He just turned 23-years-old a couple weeks ago. Even if it's not this year, Cox has Pro Bowls in his future.

DeMeco Ryans - He's filled up the stat sheet with 120 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. Ryans directs the Eagles' defense and has been a model of consistency. He's not as athletic as some of his peers and sometimes struggles in coverage, but Ryans has been very good against the run and shows up every week. The 29-year-old has had no issue transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

Donnie Jones - Kelly and even Foles have made a habit of identifying Jones as a difference-maker on special teams. He's had 32 punts downed inside the 20 - fourth-most in the NFL. Only two punters make it, so Jones might not get the nod. But he's been getting the job done all season.

Other notes: Brandon Boykin is tied for fourth in the league with five interceptions and has been fantastic on special teams, but since he's only played 51.9 percent of the defensive snaps as a nickel, it'll be tough for him to get in. Also, Cedric Thornton deserves a mention here. He's still under-the-radar but has been perhaps the Eagles' most consistent defender. Overall, Thornton is 10th among defensive linemen in tackles. He may not have the sack numbers, but has shown he has a Pro Bowl ceiling.

WHAT YOU MISSED

T-Mac takes a look at Dallas from Foles' perspective.

Says Cary Williams: "We're on a mission, and they're in our way. Period."

"No one wants to face this team in the postseason." Here's what they're saying.

McManus with the latest injury report, which includes a back issue for Dez Bryant.

Chip Kelly's response to Riley Cooper's question on the sideline is tremendous.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

The rest of the NFC East seems to be filled with static, writes the Daily News' Rich Hofmann:

The point, if it isn't obvious by now, is that the Eagles are a year ahead of the curve in the NFC East, at least a year ahead of everyone else. They have made their coaching transition. They have picked a guy who, by all available measures, is more than capable. Chip Kelly has accomplished the turnaround in a blink.

The Eagles have a coach, and a stable front office, and a young roster, and acres of cap room. Nobody knows whether they will arrive at their preferred destination - that uncertainty is why you're willing to pay money to watch - but the Eagles are set up here for a long run.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers his impressions of Kelly:

I’m sure there are doubters here and there, but Kelly has been great this year and appears to be the real deal. He is an X’s and O’s guru. He knows how to motivate players. And the players seem to like him. Before you think he’s soft, remember that he cost Shady $100,000 back in the offseason, benched DeSean, made Mike Vick fight for his spot and made the defensive guys shift to a 3-4.

COMING UP

We'll have plenty as we continue to ramp up to Sunday night.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • GEAGLE

    Mathis, Meco, shady and Donnie Longball have to be probowlers

    Desean, Kelce, fOles should get serious consideration

    • eagle fan dwn south

      I think desean will make it over Donnie even though every time I voted I voted for both of them but change of format or not it still a popularity contest

    • theycallmerob

      I’d say the two biggest locks are the ‘Seans.
      I love the OL guys too, and Donnie Football, but there’s no way the national scene lets the ‘Seans go overlooked. Unless Prisco is involved.

      • George

        lol so true he is an idiot

        • theycallmerob

          Flavor of the Week: Eagles. Entire national media is eating them up. Slow down.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) December 27, 2013

          I replied to him in a not-so-politically correct manner.

          • Andy124

            you can’t drop a tease line like that without posting your response

          • theycallmerob

            we’re going back and forth now; just discovered this twitter thing last week (he was my first!) He just twat me back, @bmorerobbie.

            it’s only because we’re no longer a bottom 5 offense.

          • Explorer51

            I went back and forth on Sunday with Prisco on Twitter when he was doing his turd in the punch bowl routine…”Eagles fans, this win means nothing” crap. When I listed as much as I could in 140 characters (momentum, seeding, etc) he replied, “doesn’t matter, it still means nothing.” What an a** clown.

          • George

            Eagles 38, Cowboys 35
            “This is for the NFC East title. If Tony Romo can’t play, can Kyle Orton get it done? Can the Eagles keep their offense rolling with Nick Foles? Winner goes to the playoffs. Loser goes home. I see a lot of points and some bad defense. When they met the first time, it was low scoring. This won’t be. Without Romo, it’s the Eagles who win it.”
            Mr. Prisco, do you even watch the games? this is the same eagles D that gave up only 11 (should have been 8) points to the #2 ranked scoring offense. This is also the same Kyle orton who lost his job to TIM TEBOW. Let me repeat that. TIM TEBOW. No way in he11 that orton gets more than 20 on this d. He truly is an idiot

          • GEAGLE

            my beloved defense ain’t giving up more then 21 bro

          • George

            thats what im saying…prisco is a complete moron. The first part is his prediction, the second is my rant about the level of idiocy that permeated pete prisco’s brain

          • theycallmerob

            just called me a Vick supporter and said shut up. ’bout sums up prisco.
            maybe he was #7 all along?

          • Andy124

            Prisco is totally trolling you lol. What a tool.

          • theycallmerob

            I love it, maybe now I’ll get those follower things? Is this good? Shame I had to send a grown man with national media presence a “yourlogicalfallacyis” link.

          • Andy124

            Just saw some of that exchange. That was fantastic. I especially love the “Which QB is missing from this picture?” and “Anything that is not ad hominem to add?”

          • theycallmerob

            He hasn’t twat in half an hour.
            I think I broke pete prisco.

          • Andy124

            We can only hope.

          • Andy124

            Re: Those follower things. If you follow Cedric Thorton he’ll follow you back.

          • Chris

            Was looking at that thread, another commenter posted this gem up from 2012:

            https://twitter.com/PriscoCBS/status/161489742259683328

    • Ark87

      It’s all about name recognition and stats rankings. And if there aren’t any significant stats (like for O-line) it’s pure popularity, like Jeff Saturday last year, who had a sub-mediocre year.

      Point is the players you mention made massive contributions to this team, but all that was hidden behind the 1:00 regional curtain all year long. They don’t have stand-out stats to otherwise stir a buzz. I think Foles, Desean, and even Kelce have a better chance than all of your “have to be probowlers” (minus Shady). Kelce got a huge spotlight on him on Sunday night, the beard, the hat, the replays, that will stick with the national conscience longer than Mathis’ years of being the best Guard in football by PFF’s grades. Desean has the name. And Foles is sort of the NFL’s Jeremy Lin to a lesser degree.

  • Token

    Boykin only 51% of snaps. Still cant get over that.

    • theycallmerob

      It’s a testament to 2 other factors:
      – Barwin’s abilities as a coverage OLB, often matching up with guys in the flat and seam before a safety takes over deep. The ILBs in Davis’ scheme seem to punish any crossing routes in the midzone. Kendricks sees some looks at times as well
      – teams haven’t played 3 WR sets much. And when they do, they’re still not throwing at Boykin as much. Even with the low snap count and avoidance, his playmaking ability has been huge (most of TOs have been in red zone). Stats are up in almost every category compared to last year. Must be one of the most efficient guys in the NFL

      interestingly, his snap count has dipped recently as the season has gone on, although that’s when the D was at its strongest and the wins were adding up.

      I made this quick graph, based on the weekly snap counts given to us by Sheil/Tim and the guys at BGN:

      • mtn_green

        Great post thanks Rob. Boykin has skills, he’s that not big enough incredibly skilled player.

        I almost feel that the eagles keep Boykin as the slot cb to make an incentive not to come out in 13 personnel.

        This subject is worthy of many, many posts.

        • Token

          Theres plenty of good CBs in the 5-10 range. Might not sit their current model for what they want in a corner. But his size isnt a issue. I dont know why they need big corners when they dont seem to press often.

      • Token

        Just really hard for me to leave the only playmaker in the secondary on the bench while Cary Williams gets to be on the field. I just dont see the positive in doing that.

        Its not like the size difference matters. Cary gives 25 yard cushions so his size isnt a factor.

        • theycallmerob

          it just seems Davis clearly prefers to match up personnel with what the offense gives him. He is consistent in his refusal to burden Boykin with outside responsibilities, at least this season.

          at least based on results, I can’t complain too much. It’s not exact science to extrapolate from these stats to assume Boykin would play as well on the outside.

  • Mike

    I was wrong on McCoy. Early in the year, I was pretty down on him. He had great talent, but I didn’t see him has a winner. I felt as the team went down, he wouldn’t be one to fight to bring them back up.

    I still feel that way about Desean. He has a lot of skill and is having a great year, but the play in Minn where he allowed the DB to undercut him for an INT shows my feelings for him.

    • @PhilthyBird215

      your Barometer for “winners’ and “losers’ is a bit flawed. forgive my utter bluntness. but Desean Jackson is what 5.10″ at best 175 lbs. and yet this guy has been giving you over a 1000 yards or close to it (912,968;2010,2012) respectively since he entered the league. i can name you receivers much taller and bigger whom went in the early first rounds since Desean jackson came in to the league that are far less productive. in case you’ve forgot D-Jackson was a 2nd round pick.

      • Mike

        His height is irrelevant. On the Minn play, he decided to avoid contact and hope the DB whiffed on the ball. He allowed him to simply step in front of him.

        He actually did the same exact thing in Green Bay, but got lucky that the DBs collided and the ball popped up into the air.

        Desean is a nice weapon who is putting up good numbers this year, but I don’t see him as a probowl WR

        • Ark87

          that’s actually wrong about the GB game. Rewatch it a few times. I have the game rewind to watch it from multiple angles, he was in there. He’s been pretty good about playing DB on under thrown balls this year (which surprised me). Minn was the exception.

        • Ark87

          still have these from making this point after the game on igglesblitz.com. I think the aftermath was misleading for a lot of people, he sort of bounced off the initial collision and kept his concentration on the ball and on his balance, made it look really easy, like he wasn’t trying.

        • CTAZPA

          Winner and loser are a little too confining for categorizing players. When DeSean scored on the punt return in MotM2, he was the definition of a winner. When he show boated at the end and didn’t run into the end zone, he risked the victory and penalties on his teammates because the were streaming onto the field. That’s loser behavior.

          A coach and a team, though, does its best with what it has. Would Chip Kelly prefer that DeSean’s physical gifts came in a package with Jason Avant’s personality? He’d never admit it!

          DeSean is having a great season. His threat of scoring on any play stretches the field both vertically and horizontally. He is a key component to the Eagles success. But he does make some terrible decisions. And I agree that he didn’t give much effort on the deep balls you mentioned. Nobody’s perfect, it’s great to see what this collection of part winners/part losers has done together.

          • ACViking

            Respectfully, to clarify, there have been 4 MofM:

            1978 – Herm Edwards’ fumble return
            1988 – Clyde Simmons’ runs in the Birds’ own blocked FG att.
            2003 – Westbrook’s punt return
            2010 – DJax PR to cap a remarkable 7.5 minutes (which ended Vick’s great run here)

            For me, none of the post-’78 games were really “miracles.” Two punt returns and a blocked FG run in for a TD. Unusual ways to end games but they were within the realm of reasonable — albeit unlikely — possibility.

            But Edwards’ fumble return in ’78 — that had never happened. Anywhere. Ever. That was a miracle.

          • BlindChow

            The 2010 “miracle” was more about the entire 7.5 minutes than just the punt return (even though the punt return is all people remember). They even had to recover an expected onside kick. The Eagles had to completely turn around how they were playing (on offense and defense), which seemed unlikely considering they had only scored a TD once (on a short field) and were down 21 points.

          • Spooonius

            I also don’t think that it has happened since.

  • Sig

    This O-Line needs some recognition. JP, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce. They are killing it in the run game and they are getting better each game in pass protection.

    Might not happen but I would love 2/3

    • G_WallyHunter

      Kelce and Mathis should be locked in.
      Mathis has been the best guard in the league for 2 years straight now (he’ll back that up with stats himself), if he doesn’t get recognition this year jesus the process is terribly flawed.

      • DEBO 215

        No one is even close to Mathis either. He is far and away the best LG in the game.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Ya him and Kelce better get in, bottom line. or else process is just a joke, and as we all know, it’s probably the latter

  • Chris

    fun note: Nnamdi Asomougha to retire right now, as a Raider. After being cut from San Fran last month, it comforts me a bit to know that he didn’t just fail here due to the coaching, but it was all on him.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Why did Lawlor say he cost Shady $100,000? some sorta joke?

    • Chris

      The way i took it, is that something he did (benching? workout bonus?) made Shady take a hit in the wallet. Would be worth a deeper look for clarification.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Ya makes sense, although I thought all players were 100% participants in OTAs and such, like you said worth looking into.

        edit: Rob clarified

    • theycallmerob

      He missed a workout in April; would have been a bonus. Kelly wouldn’t let him “make it up”
      http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20131020_McCoy_incident_shows_how_Kelly_is_winning_over_Eagles_locker_room.html

      • G_WallyHunter

        Thank you, damn 100k, what a hit.
        How about Kitna eh? Donating his 53,000 1 week game cheque to his school. What a stand-up guy

        • Joe from Easton

          Yea, that’s cool.

          • Andy124

            Nah. It’s from the cowboys. Dirty money. Shameful.

          • G_WallyHunter

            53,000 to come and work for 5 days until Sunday.
            At least cowboys money is going to a good cause instead of being thrown at undeserving players like bread at a duck pond.

          • Andy124

            Wasn’t serious. Just more ripping the cowboys.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Lol ya I hoped you weren’t. With some Eagles fans on this board, you never know.
            Was just taking a jab at Jones and his wonderful money-wasting General Managing.

            I guess the one and only bonus to Cowboys making playoffs is Kitna will donate more money to a deserving public school ;)… but better chances he’s done playing football (again) on Sunday night.

      • Chris

        ah, thanks Rob!

  • DEBO 215

    Mathis, Kelce, Peters, Shady, Foles, Jones, and DeSean all get in.

  • Joe from Easton

    I think Mathis, Kelce, Shady, and DeSean get in. Peters and Foles are going to get snubbed and Donnie is a little bit outside of the top two punters in the league.

  • Andy124

    Pro-Bowl schmo-bowl. Not that concerned with who wins the popularity contest.

  • Andy124

    Seeing a lot of FOles on tv and in internet quotes this week. Hear the clip about him growing up in Austin and looking forward to playing back in Texas about 4 times this morning. 2 things:

    1) I hope FOles’ agent is smart enough to tell him never to admit to growing up a Cowboy fan. It’s one of those things that even if it’s true, you just don’t say it out loud.

    2) I hope all the extra media attention doesn’t detract from his focus or preparation. FOles doesn’t seem like the type who would let that happen, but you never see it coming ahead of time, or it would never happen.

    • Joe from Easton

      Foles has already publicly stated that he was only a Texas (NCAA) fan growing up. Something like, “I’m from Texas, so I liked Texas, that’s it”. I kind of felt like that was the smart play because I really doubt he wasn’t a cowboys fan.

      • Andy124

        Excellent.

        • Joe from Easton
          • Andy124
          • Joe from Easton

            haha, I’d up vote this twice if possible.

          • Fansince’67

            As an Ardmore kid who has lived in Austin since ’99 – actually, not everyone here is a Cowboys fan. Univ. of Texas is the “pro” team everyone here roots for. Still a lot of Oilers/Texans fans here and other teams. That said, he probably had a few Aikman jerseys growing up. I had GI Joe’s but that didn’t make me a soldier – pretty sure he wants to stomp all over that star this weekend.

          • Joe from Easton

            I’m not even close to debating whether or not he wants to $h!t on Dallas. I know that he does. I’m just saying I’d guess he was probably a cowboy fan as a little kid, which is fine. However, the Eagles fan base NEVER wants to hear that. Good PR move not to say it.

      • Pennguino

        The funny comment is “there is only ONE PROFESSIONAL team and it’s Texas” Can be easily taken as Dallas is not a Pro team….hahahaha

    • G_WallyHunter

      Agreed with 2, hoping it doesn’t throw him off. I think his determination is so strong and focus is so strong that won’t happen. Plus, he’s aware of the distractions, we’ve heard him say numerous times in pressers that he just needs to block that out. I have confidence he will stay the same

    • cliff henny

      Dawkins grew up Cowboy fan, so it happens. once they sign NFL contract, sure all childhood allegiances are thrown out the window.
      .
      on #2, it’s not like he’s doing extra interviews. it’s just bspn running his regular press conf into ground like they always do. sure he’s in NovaCare center 17 hrs a day this week. one thing we dont have to worry about with Foles, he wont fail because of lack of prep.

      • Andy124

        Re: your first sentence. No he wasn’t. I deny it. And if Brian said it, he was mistaken. I will now proceed to stick my fingers in my ears and yell LaLaLaLaLa at the top of my lungs. :)

        • cliff henny

          he did, few choices in SC at the time. was funny hearing him tell story. since he wasnt in philly or cowboys area, he knew they were rivals, but didnt really know how deep it was, especially on our end. he went out on the town after signing, was being paraded around as newest Eagle and every fan was saying ‘congrats, better kill the ‘boys’…and he was like these fans are no joke. so, from then on, he hated the cowboys.

    • nicksaenz1

      FOles. Haha.

  • Tautalatasi Jr.

    Too bad none of those players will be playing in the pro bowl, they’ll be too busy preparing for their opponent the following week :p

    • Richard Colton

      that would be amazing. Have to figure that 1 or 2 of the above QB names will be playing in the SB. Makes Foles’ chances even stronger.

    • hillbillybirdsfan

      From your lips to God’s ears Junior Smith!

      • Tautalatasi Jr.

        Hahaha thank you hillbilly, how awesome would it be to win our first superbowl in Eli’s house? one can only dream

        • Mr. Wu

          would seem only right since we do own the meadowlands anyway

  • BrickSquadMonopoly

    Nnamdi Asomugha to retire as a Raider. What a sad excuse of a football player too soft.

  • cloisterwater

    Romo had back surgery. Officially out for the year.

  • Scott J

    Can’t wait to not watch the pro bowl!

  • hillbillybirdsfan

    I almost forgot what it was like to have a punter that could put the ball down inside the 20 consistently. Was our last accurate punter Feagles or am I missing someone?

  • Scott J

    Theres a lot of talk about who the Eagles MVP is this season. Kelly, McCoy, Foles? I think the MVP(s) are the O-line.

    • Andy124

      The was a poll at philly.crap with those options. I think they forgot the the P in MVP stands for PLAYER.