There is PLENTY of praise to go around for the accomplishments of this Eagles squad. The way this team has rallied together and performed since Week 1 is truly remarkable. Low expectations from mass media couldn’t limit them. Incorporating key offseason additions into the scheme was a seamless transition, and once the team started rolling, not even injuries could slow them down. The Eagles are Super Bowl Bound(!) because of the resiliency and high level performance of the entire organization, but there are some unsung heroes I think deserve a bit more credit than they are currently receiving. As somewhat of a tribute to their underrated success, here are five unsung heroes key to the Eagles Super Bowl run:
To put it plainly, I believe that Vaitai’s stellar performance in replacing Jason Peters at left tackle saved the season. Protecting the quarterback’s blind side is one of the most important roles in football, and Big V has stood his ground in that role. Stepping in to replace JP the Bodyguard is no small task, but Vaitai proved he possesses more than enough to get the job done. The way he neutralized one of the best pass rushers in the league in Everson Griffen in the NFC Championship was just the crowning moment of what has been a stellar season for the young tackle. Hopefully he continues to hold down the fort in Minneapolis.
Kendricks didn’t even want to play for Philly this time last year due to a lack of playing time, and that sentiment continued into the 2017 season. With Hicks and Bradham entrenched as the Birds’ starting linebackers, Kendricks was stuck as an incredibly talented depth piece. His number would be called upon, however, once Jordan Hicks went down with a ruptured achilles in Week 6. Kendricks stepped right in and excelled, which should come as no surprise. The thing he should be commended for is continuing to stay in shape and dedicated to his craft, despite losing the desire to play for Philly. Although he publicly admitted that he requested a trade, he never became a diva or a distraction for the team. This level of professionalism should not go unnoticed, and after seeing what Najee Goode can do last Sunday I’m glad Kendricks is still in town.
Wiz has been an absolute beast at left guard all season, and a big reason why the Eagles had so much success in the run game. He had to earn his job in a battle with Chance Warmack (lol), and continues to play as if he is still fighting for playing time. Here’s Wiz blowing up two defenders in the Eagles divisional win over the Falcons for your viewing pleasure:
— Joe Saylor (@JSaylor) January 14, 2018
He’s played incredibly well all season and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s got some juice left for the Super Bowl.
Sack totals be damned- Vinny Curry has been a man on a mission this season. Curry has really impressed with his improved run defense, and has been his usual self when it comes to rushing the passer. Curry has 26 QB hurries in the last seven games alone, and his performance allows Schwartz to maintain his defensive line rotations. If Curry didn’t make such a leap from last season, Schwartz may have had to rely on Graham, Long, and Barnett a bit more in the regular season, preventing them from being as fresh as they are now. It’s encouraging to see such a big improvement from the former second round pick out of Marshall and a big reason the Eagles will be playing football in February.
The Coaching Staff:
I have been absolutely blown away by the job the Eagles’ coaching staff has done this season. They have consistently been one step ahead of the opposition and the results speak for themselves. The most impressive trait of this staff is their adaptability. There were a ton of key players lost to injury this season, but the staff proved that they are more than the talented players at their disposal.
The playoff game plan put together by Pederson, Reich, and DeFilippo for Nick
Foles is nothing short of perfect, and Schwartz has the defensive unit flat out balling. The Eagles never look unprepared for an opponent and that speaks volumes of the coaching staff. Huge hat tip to the staff and I think they’ll be ready for the chess match versus Bill Belichick and crew.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports