Eagles

Top Five Moves That Put the Eagles in Super Bowl LII

COURTESY OF WIP

The Eagles 2017 season has been the best one in recent memory, some might go as far to say it was better than 2004. I can’t say much comparing the two as I’m only 24 years old. While I bled green back in 2004 my fandom then doesn’t hold a candle to where it’s at now.

It’s hard to narrow down just one move that put the Eagles in position to win the Super Bowl. Howie Roseman definitely earned the title of “Executive of the Year” after what he managed to do in the preseason up to the middle of the season. That said, let’s look to the top 5 moves of the year:

Honorable mention: Starting Stefen Wisniewski at left guard.

This was a super underrated move that happened in the beginning of the season. It turns out Isaac Seumalo needed a lot more work and wasn’t quite ready for the pros. It’s actually hard to believe that Wisniewski was the third option behind both Seumalo and Chance Warmack. Having Wiz between Jason Kelce and Jason Peters/ Big V was the best thing for this offensive line. Re-signing him last offseason turned out to be a great move by Howie Roseman, Wiz looks like the starting left guard for at least the next couple of seasons.

5. Turning a weakness into a strength.

Going into this season, cornerback was the biggest question mark and definitely this team’s Achilles heel. Howie Roseman put in some work to make it a position of strength and depth.

Think about this: the cornerback depth chart at the end of last season included Leodis McKelvin, Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, and Nolan Carroll. In a handful of months the Eagles had a new look cornerback room including: Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, and Sidney Jones.

I’m well documented saying I hated the trade for Ronald Darby when it first happened, but I came around. Darby is a good corner, and an immediate upgrade on the outside. He’s super quick and young, two things that were desperately needed.

I was also skeptical of the Patrick Robinson signing but it turns out he’s a very capable slot corner. He came up clutch more than once (see his pick six in the NFC Championship game), and adds a good veteran voice to a very young room.

Then at the draft Howie added two ball-hawk cornerbacks in Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. If Jones comes back healthy the Birds will have the steal of the 2017 Draft as he was projected to go as high as the top 10 (the Birds got him at 43 overall).

4. Upgrading the receivers.

This one is a no-brainer. Getting weapons for Carson Wentz was the top of the Eagles to-do list this past offseason. Howie Roseman and company accomplished their goal by adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and picking Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the draft.

Even though Alshon isn’t a “true number one” receiver, he and Wentz developed a lot of chemistry and he has big play ability. This season he recorded 57 catches for 789 yards and nine touchdowns, good for his best season since 2014 where he put up 85 catches for 1133 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Torrey Smith didn’t have the season Alshon had but he is a proven deep threat that keeps secondary’s honest. For instance, he had that huge play in the NFC Championship where he torched Trae Waynes for the touchdown on the flea flicker. Smith brings post season experience to the locker room as he won a Super Bowl with the Ravens.

The two young guys drafted have a lot of upside. Hollins is a special teams standout with the ability to be the heir to Torrey Smith. Gibson is a burner who needs some work. Here’s hoping he can improve in the offseason.

3. Suring up the backfield.

This was one of the best moves (or group of moves) the Eagles made on offense this season. Going into the season, the running backs on last year’s roster were Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner. Due to a litany of circumstances, none of those guys are contributing on offense right now (Mathews was cut, Sproles is injured, Smallwood is a healthy scratch every week, and Barner is primarily a special teamer.)

Signing LeGarrette Blount was a huge move this past offseason. To keep it short, he is the team’s leading rusher and a great voice to have in the locker room.

The Eagles also brought in two rookies, Donnell Pumphrey and Corey Clement. Pumphrey was placed on the IR right after the preseason, but Clement has been a pretty big part of the offense as a rookie. He took over the third down back role that was previously filled by Sproles.

When the trade deadline came around Howie Roseman managed to trade the Vikings fourth round pick for Jay Ajayi. Ajayi is a homerun threat running back. He was the final piece to the running back puzzle.

Upgrading the backfield this offseason (and season) is a huge reason why the Eagles are in the position they’re in now. The Birds have a potent rushing attack that can beat you in a variety of ways.

2. Defense[ive line] wins Championships.

This can also be read as “Winning in the trenches.”

As you can see, Howie Roseman loves trading. He traded Jordan Matthews and a pick for Ronald Darby, he traded a fourth round pick for Jay Ajayi. The move I want to highlight here was the trade he made to acquire Ravens’ defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. This was one of the most underrated moves last offseason as it gave the Eagles one of the most dominant defensive lines in football. The starting four consist of: Brandon Graham, Timmy Jernigan, Fletcher Cox, and Vinny Curry. Who do you single team in that situation? Whomever you leave single teamed will more than likely be beat. This move alone puts a lot of pressure on opposing offenses.

Howie Roseman continued to add depth on the defensive line by signing Chris Long and drafting Derek Barnett. Long played well all season long and is a leader in the locker room. Like Patrick Robinson, he came up clutch in the NFC Championship game by recovering a fumble (forced by Barnett) and hit Case Keenum as he threw the pick six to Robinson. Barnett had the luxury of not having to produce a crazy amount in his first season as he had guys like Long, Curry, and Graham ahead of him in the rotation.

The defensive line is hands down the best group on the team, it went from strong to elite over the course of last offseason.

1. Re-signing Nicky Six.

A move that most fans barely took notice of turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Re-signing Nick Foles is hands down the best move the Eagles made this offseason. Foles is a guy who is very familiar with this city and this coaching staff. He benefited from a quarterback friendly offense and a great group of guys around him.

Once considered to be the franchise quarterback, Nick Foles is now on the brink of bringing a Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia. His path might have been unconventional, but the fans here are happy to have him at the helm right now. It’s safe to say the Eagles would not be in the position they’re in now without Nick Foles.

 


You can follow Anthony Mazziotti on Twitter (@AntMazziotti) and e-mail him at anthonymazziottiwriting@gmail.com. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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