Veteran DE Chris Long could be a vital cog in success of Eagles defensive line

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When the Philadelphia Eagles brought in talented veteran DE, Chris Long, many were worried that he was past his prime. From the time Long had been drafted in 2008 by the (then) St. Louis Rams, Long has been a force to reckon with. But are Long’s best days behind him?

In 2016, Long signed with eventual Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, interestingly taking on a different role in a different scheme. Although having one of his worst statistical years (35 combined tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 3 pass deflections), watching the tape, you could still see that Long had the “it” factor.

At 32 years old, the expectations this year are that he will once again serve as a veteran presence to help mentor the younger guys. In all actuality, Long is in Philadelphia to be part of a defensive front that has the potential to be nearly unstoppable. Last year, the team rotated waves of linemen in and out during games to keep each and every player as fresh as possible…meaning Long is needed just as much on the field as he is in the film room.

With a style of play that can only help the Eagles front, Long may not have career years like in 2011 and 2012 when he had a combined 24.5 sacks, but as a rotational defensive end, going up against a tired tackle late in games could make him just as terrifying as someone like Brandon Graham.

Blessed with a first step that you can only be born with, Long has had his way with many a tackle over his 10 year career. In 130 games played (102 started), Long has 281 total tackles, a whopping 58.5 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, and 11 pass deflections. Equally dominant in both the run and pass game, Long is what you consider a complete player at his position.

The son of Hall-of-Famer Howie Long, Chris has always stood out for his fast style of play. The former Virginia University product came screaming into the NFL and has been a problem since then.

Now with the Philadelphia Eagles, Long looks to put a little extra icing on the cake as he nears the end of his career. The potential future Hall-of-Famer looks too dominant even at this stage, the same way he has ever since touching ground in the NFL. What may play in Long’s favor is the depth of talent the Eagles house. With Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Rookie Derek Barnett, and Steven Means, being able to rotate and stay fresh can only help, as he is not a rookie or younger player who needs time to heat up. Being a vet, Long knows what it takes to be ready for a game and in a moments notice, can be fired up to play at a high level.

Aside from his obvious talents, Long also brings another level of leadership to a relatively young core of players. Having a player who brings what Long does to the team and to football, can go a very long way in having the locker room ready for the longevity of the season and a run into the playoffs.

To get to the long winded point, do not be fooled by Chris Long’s age, or that this is his 10th year in the league. He showed up when they needed him in New England, and he will show up in Philadelphia. Do not be surprised if the veteran still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Look for Long to be a dominant force this season.

 

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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