The Philadelphia Eagles have broken the drought. As the first number one seed to be underdogs throughout the playoffs, the Eagles used the disrespect to their advantage and culminated the 2017 season with a shootout victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
While the team has been an underdog since MVP-hopeful Carson Wentz went down with an ACL tear in December, there are plenty of individual underdogs that make up the Eagles’ roster and it starts at the top.
Here are the Eagles underdogs that made up one of the greatest underdog stories in history. These will be the names that Eagles fans will remember forever.
Nelson Agholor, Wide Receiver
Agholor entered his third NFL season with lowered expectations. After his rookie and sophomore seasons were plagued by drops and underachievement, Agholor was expected to be the team’s third or fourth option behind Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and Torrey Smith.
From the first offensive drive of the season, it was clear that the Agholor we had seen in 2015 and 2016 was not the 2017 version we were about to see.
In 2017, Agholor totaled more receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns than his first two seasons combined. Additionally, the drops that plagued him were in the rearview mirror.
Agholor’s struggles came to a head in 2016 following the Seahawks game in which Agholor had a wide open drop and an illegal formation penalty that nullified a 57-yard Zach Ertz touchdown.
“I did it to myself,” Agholor told the media in the locker room following the game. “I started getting into my own head and trying so hard and thinking about being perfect and when miscues were there and they were exposed, I let it just eat at me.”
It’s an interview that is difficult to watch. Agholor was tormented by his mistakes. Doug Pederson benched Agholor the next week and he finished the season with nine catches in the last seven games.
From the first offensive drive of 2017, which ended with a 58-yard Carson-Wentz-to-Nelson-Agholor touchdown, Agholor’s confidence was at an all-time high. Agholor finished the season with 62 receptions for 768 yards and eight touchdowns.
Agholor, like so many of his teammates, showed up on the biggest stage. After having nine catches in seven weeks to close out the toughest two-season stretch of an Eagle in recent memory, Agholor tied for the lead in the Super Bowl with nine receptions.
Agholor went from being a first-round pick to public enemy number one to one of the greatest redemption seasons in recent memory. The confidence displayed by Agholor in his third season in the league will only be bolstered by the new jewelry he will have soon.
Brent Celek, Tight End
Celek is the longest-tenured Philadelphia athlete. He has been through Andy Reid, survived the Chip Kelly era and has stuck around with Doug Pederson.
Celek has been the model of what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle and is one of the most deserving of this Super Bowl victory. In 11 seasons with the Eagles, Celek has missed one game.
In each of the last two seasons, Celek has had career lows in receptions and it is clear he is on his way out. However, he will be welcome in Philadelphia as long as he wants to play. The tight end will be forever an Eagle, especially after helping to bring a ring to the City of Brotherly Love.
Trey Burton, Tight End
Trey Burton played the 2017 season on a second round tender that netted him $2.7 million. Throughout his career with the Eagles, the team has valued him enough to expand the roster spots for tight ends in his rookie year and expand his role on special teams to make the tight end more valuable.
Burton went to the University of Florida hoping to play quarterback. However, during his time in college he threw just 17 passes. Burton played running back, tight end, wide receiver and a quarterback while a Gator. His role on offense began as a running back and focused less on running and more on receiving as the years progressed. Without a steady position, Burton went undrafted in 2014.
In his first two seasons in the NFL, Burton was almost exclusively a special teams player. It wasn’t until Pederson came to Philadelphia that Burton saw extensive action on offense. The former Gator caught 37 passes for 327 yards and a touchdown in his third season. In 2017, he had a nose for the endzone, scoring five times on only 23 receptions. At a clip of one touchdown per 4.6 touches, Burton was by far the most efficient Eagle in terms of making the most of his touches.
Burton was largely quiet in the playoffs, hauling in just one pass for 12 yards against the Vikings in the NFC Championship. When the Eagles called Burton’s number in the big game, boy did he deliver. The Philly Special was reliant on a touch pass from a tight end who hadn’t completed a pass since 2012. Burton’s teammates implored him to not throw the pass too hard, Foles wasn’t used to catching passes. His coaches told him options one, two and three were to run the ball after receiving the pitch from Corey Clement. When Burton saw Foles without a defender in sight, he let it fly.
Burton hardly saw the field in his first two years with the Eagles. When Pederson came to town, Philadelphia saw what the tight end had to offer. When his number was called in the Super Bowl, the world saw what the tight end had to offer.
The Eagles Super Bowl roster will be remembered forever by Eagles fans. While each member of that roster surely has their own underdog story, these are the biggest underdogs that helped one of the biggest underdog teams in NFL history overcome all adversity to bring home the sport’s biggest prize.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports