Weekend Reading: Eagles Defensive Line One Of the Best

Plus: which Eagles tight end ranks in the top 10 at his position?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Here’s this weekend’s roundup of the national stories about the Eagles:

The Eagles have the sixth best defensive line in the NFL, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, Bennie Logan, Brandon Graham

Here’s one way to think of the Eagles’ spot on this list. They may have the weakest “second best defensive lineman” among teams in the top 10, but they definitely have the “fifth-best defensive lineman” in football. Curry, Barwin, and Graham form an excellent pass rush trio at end. Logan’s run-stuffing complements Cox’s everything-stuffing. Jim Schwartz is in prime position to make himself a head coaching candidate again.

I went back and forth on whether to rank the Eagles in the top five. The people were close on it too.

Head coach Doug Pederson is last in head coach power rankings due to having no previous experience as a head coach, writes Elliot Harrison of NFL.com.

32) Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles

This isn’t fair. Pederson hasn’t so much as coached one game yet. But yeah, he offers no NFL head-coaching experience, like some other guys at the bottom of this list. Pederson got off to a rather inauspicious start with the Sam Bradford Start-gate. Of course, you can blame Pederson’s assistants for the confusion regarding whether Bradford is the clear No. 1 or will have to compete for the top job. It does get more confusing, however, when the organization signs Pederson’s guy, Chase Daniel, to big-time backup money. Seven mil per season is high for a dude who is supposed to be carrying a play chart on Sundays. It should be mentioned here that the front office put Pederson in a difficult position by moving up to draft Carson Wentz, given the two quarterbacks signed this offseason (one apparently told he was the starter, the other a favorite of the coach). We’ll see how it goes.

Howie Roseman says that many of the Eagles’ mistakes were signing free agents that didn’t pan out, writes Turron Davenport of USA Today.

“When you look at it, some of the mistakes we’ve made have been going out and spending a lot of money,” Roseman said. “A lot of those mistakes were on guys that aren’t our own. They were guys that we’ve brought from another organization, and we thought we knew.”

The failed contracts that were extended to DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell instantly come to mind when considering recent free agent activity. Rather than continue to go down the same path, the Eagles have focused on keeping a core group of players in the fold and complementing them with additional players.

“We went and looked at our plan for our roster over the next couple of years and said we will never let Fletcher Cox leave the building,” Roseman said. “We will never let Lane [Johnson] leave the building, we will never let Zach [Ertz]…if we do it now, we do it a little early and maybe save on those guys and add to the team, keep as many guys around as possible. We have this core, and we can build off of that.”

As a result, the Eagles extended a number players before when they were set to hit free agency. Outside of Cox, most of the players that got extensions are yet to enter their prime.

Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com compares Andrew Luck‘s new deal with Sam Bradford’s.

Bradford got his megadeal for being drafted. Luck got his for his performance in the NFL.

The more interesting comparison might actually be between Luck and Carson Wentz, the quarterback the Eagles took with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. There’s no way to compare the two as players: Luck started from Day 1 and was successful immediately, while Wentz is expected to spend much of his rookie year on the sideline. But Wentz came into the league under the same CBA that dictated Luck’s earning potential.

Wentz received a four-year, fully guaranteed contract worth $26.7 million, including a $17.6 million signing bonus. Wentz will be subject to the same fifth-year option that the Colts used to retain Luck’s rights before negotiating a new deal.

Ultimately, Wentz’s future earnings, like Luck’s, will be determined by performance. Luck’s deal nudged the bar a bit higher for quarterback contracts (although not as much as some observers expected or hoped). The Eagles have to deal with that reality in 2020.

Of course, that assumes Wentz will prove himself worthy of the kind of contract Luck just received. If he does, the Eagles won’t mind giving it to him.


Zach Ertz is a top 10 tight end in the NFL, writes Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.com.

10. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles made it clear that they wanted to lock up their young players before hitting free agency. Fletcher Cox headlined that group, but Ertz was another big name who received an extension. He signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal in January, making him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. Some would argue that it wasn’t warranted, but when you play 47 of 48 games in three seasons and average nearly 700 receiving yards per year as a tight end, you’re valuable. His touchdown numbers remained low in 2015 (just two in 15 games), but he has big-play potential alongside Brent Celek. Ertz improved each season under Chip Kelly, but he’ll have to prove he can thrive in new coach Doug Pederson’s offense, too. Fortunately, that shouldn’t be an issue.

Watch for Jordan Matthews to be a potential fantasy x-factor, from Eric Karabell of ESPN.com.

Potential stock fluctuation: And now we look at the wide receivers, from a general sense. Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant are great, no question, but keep an eye on the Philadelphia and Washington receivers in your fantasy drafts. Jordan Matthews could move outside from the slot, but regardless, he just missed a 1,000-yard season. Perhaps it’s the concern about his quarterback play holding his value back. He could be a top-20 WR on draft day, or land outside the top 30. Same with former Eagle DeSean Jackson, always trying to make a point. Like his quarterback, this could be the final year for him in D.C., so one would think he’s plenty motivated to prove a point, and while he’s more likely outside the top-30 WRs than in the top 20, he’s had good seasons in the past. He’s not too old. Ultimately, I view Washington running back Matt Jones as the non-rookie most likely to see his value change as the summer moves on. Nobody seems to want to talk about this organization’s running attack, but someone’s gotta do it. [Kirk] Cousins doesn’t throw 45 times per game. Jones wasn’t great as a rookie but it’s his job, at least on first and second down, and I suspect his current ADP will rise to safe RB3 status by August.

Many former players, including former Eagles, paid their final respects to Buddy Ryan on Friday, writes Gary B. Graves of the Associated Press.

Standouts from Ryan’s teams in Philadelphia were there, including Seth Joyner, Eric Allen and Clyde Simmons. Hall of Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams, who played under Ryan in Arizona, was among a group of pall bearers who carried Ryan’s wooden casket from a hearse bearing the U.S. Army seal from Ryan’s service during the Korean War.

Singletary said their presence proves how they felt about Ryan’s devotion, and added, “when you look around this room and see all these men, that is the result of a coach that is loyal.”

Ryan was buried in a private ceremony at Lawrenceburg Cemetery. Before the procession pulled away, players mingled with both Rex and Rob Ryan, with discussions of football overheard.

Ryan raised horses on a farm here and [Mike] Singletary suggested that he might train some up in heaven. On the other hand, [Steve] McMichael speculated that his former coach wouldn’t be far from his first love.

“I don’t know who the defensive coordinator is on God’s football team up there,” McMichael said, “but he just lost his job.”