Philadelphia is a happy city today, as the Eagles absolutely demolished the Pittsburg Steelers on the way to a 34-3 win and a 3-0 record. Pretty much every part of the Eagles team, both offensive and defensive, played well above average yesterday and so I’ll be buying or selling each group based on how I think they’ll preform going forward.
Coaching – Buy: Man, how good has this coaching staff been? I was among the skeptics when Doug Pederson was hired, but he’s already been a early contender for Coach of the Year. Yes, I really mean that. He’s called every game near perfectly. The Eagles have yet to waste a timeout, Pederson, OC Frank Reich, and QB coach John DeFilippo have been just about perfect in coaching up Carson Wentz, and Jim Schwartz has the defense absolutely rolling. It’s early, but the Eagles coaches have been great so far. Here’s to hoping they continue their success, and that they stick around for a long time.
Quarterback – Buy: Just like the rest of Philly and a large part of the NFL community, I’m 100% aboard the “Wentz Wagon”. Carson Wentz hasn’t just been the best rookie QB by a long shot, he’s been a top QB in general. He’s patient, smart, extremely accurate, poised, and so much more. He looks nothing like the the QB who most thought would sit for the majority of his first year and is instead looking like a 10 year, top of the line veteran.
Running backs – Buy: Count me among the folks who were skeptical of the “running back by committee” approach. I had my doubts about both both Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood and I’m happy to say they’re both proving me wrong. Much like Kansas City did last season when they lost Jamaal Charles, the Eagles are using different backs (with similar strengths and running styles) to wear down defensive lines. Smallwood and Barner combined for 121 yards and two touchdowns, and the Eagles have a chance to solidify this group when an extremely deep running back class comes around in the 2017 draft.
Offensive Line – Buy: The offensive line has been pretty darn good so far this season. Although the suspension of Lane Johnson will be a serious hit, Howie and Pederson have done a good job of building for the future. When Peters leaves or retires, Lane Johnson is as good of a transition plan as you can have. If Jason Kelce’s time with the team is coming to an end (I don’t think it is), rookie Isaac Seumalo is a solid choice for the next in line, and while Barber’s play at LG has been very good, when the Eagles eventually move him to RT, Wisniewski is a capable starter ready to take over. FA signing Brandon Brooks has done everything he’s been asked to and he’s doing it well. The future of the Eagles O-line is finally bright.
Wide Receiver – Sell: This was one of the toughest decisions for me. I like the Eagles receiving core quite a bit. I think Jordan Matthews will hold most of the Eagles receiving records by the time he’s done, Nelson Agholor is taking all the right steps after a bad rookie season, and DGB is the tall “go up and get it” type of receiver I’ve been saying the Eagles have been missing for a while. That being said, Sproles is old (I know he’s technically a RB, but he’s better catching so I’m including him here), and Carson Wentz would be sitting pretty at either 7 or 8 TD’s instead of 5 if not for all the drops. Josh Huff has been really quiet after a good pre-season, and the Eagles really need a #1 type of guy to pair with Wentz. I’m selling for now, but I still think this group is better than advertised.
Tight ends – Buy: Whatever else you want to say about the Eagles offense, their plan at tight end is rock solid. Brent Celek is the embodiment of what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle and just signed a 3-year extension during the offseason, allowing him to start and finish his career in Philly. And while he’s still playing at a high level, when he eventually does retire, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton are capable and talented players ready to take over. The Eagles will be set at TE for a long time coming, and that’s a very good thing to see.
Defensive Line – Buy: Looking at how good this D-line has been so far, it’s a shame thinking about all the talent Chip wasted by brining in a 3-4, 2 gap scheme. 3 key players have signed extensions in the past two years, Bennie Logan’s may be close behind, and Connor Barwin has 3 years left on his contract. Throw in a slew of talented backups and a D-line that has 10 sacks so far this season and is completely dominating has a bright future.
Linebackers – Sell: Another tough decision for me. The linebacker group has been better than advertised so far this year, but it hasn’t been without problems. Second year starter Jordan Hicks has picked up where he left of with his high level of play from last year and Steven Tulloch has been a good backup to help Hicks stay healthy. FA signing Nigel Bradham has been impressive so far as well. The questions lie with Mychal Kendricks and the future of this group. The reason I’m selling is due to the lack of long term answers. Three of the Eagles five main linebackers may be gone after this season. Bradham could leave after two and Jordan Hicks still needs to prove he can stay healthy for a whole season. There are some bright spots here, but far more question marks.
Cornerbacks – Sell: This is easily the Eagles weakest unit, although your probably couldn’t tell that based on Sunday. The unit’s best corner, Nolan Carroll, is on a one-year deal and has played well, but he isn’t a number one corner. Leodis McKelvin is here on a two-year deal, but already has had injury problems. Ron Brooks has been pretty much average. Rookie Jalen Mills is getting plenty of hype, but played pretty badly against the Steelers. At this point, the Eagles best hope is to draft a top tier corner is the first round of the draft, give Carroll an extension to patrol one side of the field, and let Mills and Brooks control the middle of the field. If the Eagles want to make and win some Super Bowls during the Wentz era, they need to upgrade the corner position.
Safety – Buy: I’m sold on the safety duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Since Jenkins arrived a few years back, he’s been the best safety the Eagles have had since Brian Dawkins. He’s good in coverage, against the run, he rarely misses a tackle, and has been one of the best safety’s in the league. Rodney McLeod signed during the offseason as a FA and has since recorded 2 interceptions in 3 games, 14 tackles, and 3 passes defended. Both are also under contract till 2020. It really looks like the Eagles are bringing back the days where teams didn’t want to throw in the middle because the Eagles safeties are always patrolling there, and I for one, am very excited.
Photo credit: ANdy Antipin