2017: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Joe Walker, Kamu Grugier-Hill
2019: Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, L.J. Fort, Paul Worrilow, Nate Gerry
If we had examined this position just one week ago, the scales would have been drastically in favor of 2017, but alas, we are not. Zach Brown’s arrival really pushes this back the other way and along with L.J Fort, who has some fantastic upside as well as being a dominant special teamer, this unit looks dangerous.
The Eagles have increasingly relied on nickel and dime packages and if they are to do so again, Bradham and Hill is a ‘Thunder and lightning’ combination I just can’t wait to see.
The depth remains the same, but Kamu Grugier-Hill’s development goes another year as one of the most underrated aspects of the team. His 13 special teams tackles ranked 13th in the league and he led the team for the second year in a row, on top of flying around the defensive backfield making big-time tackles.
It’s close, but I’m all-in on 2019.
2017: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle, Sidney Jones (injured)
2019: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Jay Liggins
Patrick Robinson wasn’t the signing of the offseason that year. It was Ronald Darby. If it wasn’t for Darby, Robinson would have been left outside, being victimized by Alshon Jeffery all training camp, but the trade sent him into the nickel, where he flourished, just as he did for the Colts in 2015.
The Eagles are now inundated with depth and the players from 2017 have all for the most part (sorry Dex), taken a step forward. Douglas has become a tackling machine, Sidney Jones is no longer injured, Jalen Mills has developed further into an entrenched starter.
Flooded with more talent than they know what to do with, this is again a great problem to have…even if I was against the Ronald Darby re-signing. given his weakness in tackling and lack of durability.
2017: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Jaylen Watkins
2019: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Tre Sullivan, Blake Countess
That 2017 Safety group was just perfect, wasn’t it? Corey Graham wasn’t a total liability, Jaylen Watkins became a very solid tackler, Rodney McLeod was healthy and Malcolm Jenkins ran rampant underneath.
This may be the closest we get to recreating that dream, but it all depends on McLeod’s health. If he can recover well from his ACL/MCL tear, then 2019 has the edge here. If he can’t, then the signing of both Sendejo and Countess will be key.
The Eagles have more depth than they did one year ago, rivalling 2017 at least, and substantially more special teams production now that Countess is in the fold.
2019: RB, OL, TE, WR, DT, LB, CB, S
2017: QB, DE
Yes. The Eagles have a more dangerous roster than the one that went on to upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52. This season will all come down to the health of Carson Wentz. Can he come back with a vengeance and pick up where he left off, but without the mistakes that came as a consequence of injury and an offseason where the offense was still built around Foles after a 7-game stretch where it was created for him, oh, and a new offensive coordinator?
This season shouldn’t just throw up shades of 2017. It should, in theory, with the football gods onside, provide a football team that will rip through teams with little in the way of mercy, reminding us all that ‘the new norm’ is upon us.