Morgan Burkett: Re-signing Timmy Jernigan will prove to be the best move Howie made all year.
The two Jacksons — Malik and Desean — will undoubtedly be given the most attention when football is in full swing in September. Having a legitimate superstar to plug alongside Fletcher Cox on passing downs will have an immediate and long-lasting effect on Jim Schwartz’ aggressive defense. However, it is another name at the defensive tackle position that will have the greatest impact on the defense in 2019, and he was already on the roster.
During the Eagles 2017 Superbowl run, Roseman decided the Eagles couldn’t wait any longer to extend Jernigan after the impact he had made playing beside Fletcher Cox. At the time, Timmy held PFF’s 16th best overall DT grade (86.2), 13th run grade (86.5) and 16th best pass rush productivity (6.8%). The 4-year $48 million dollar deal seemed like a hefty price to pay, but the former Baltimore Raven would prove himself a necessity securing the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Playing 47.86% of the team’s defensive snaps, he ended the season with 29 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, two and a half sacks and eight quarterback hits. During this year’s playoff run, Jim Schwartz reiterated Jernigan’s importance to the team:
He’s a guy that has a little bit of a contagious energy. You just see him on the field — he brings confidence. He brings toughness.
Then came the summer of 2018. An MRI would reveal that Timmy had suffered a significantly herniated cervical disk that would keep him out for 13 games. The Eagles added veteran Haloti Ngata and gave some young players a chance to try to fill the void left by Jernigan’s injury. Accordingly, Philadelphia dropped from the best run defense in the league allowing only 79.2 yards per game to 7th, allowing 96.9. Fletcher Cox was forced to play 79.96% of the defensive snaps (up from 58.93% in 2017) and had his best year, but was clearly gassed for portions of the season. Jernigan would come back in the last three games of the season (two tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit), but never hit his stride.
Last year I was on the field after working out just six times . . I ran on the field two times and I was back.
Howie Roseman decided the risk of re-injury made Jernigan’s current contract too rich, but the team was able to bring him back on a 1 year $2 million contract that could be worth $3 million with incentives. In 2019, Timmy may have to vie for snaps with new addition Malik Jackson, but their play styles couldn’t be more complimentary. A master at getting to the quarterback, Jackson will feast on interior offensive lineman with fresh legs while Jernigan does the hard work on early downs and clear rushing situations. This defense is at it’s best when opponents are forced to drop back and pass the football. Malik adds to strength — putting pressure on the passer — but Timmy maintains it’s identity. He may be the best “backup” DT in the league.
Everybody on this team, every coach, everybody who has anything to do with the organization, whoever watched me play, they know when I’m healthy, they know how I’m coming.
Chris Infante: The first big move the Eagles made was their best.
The Eagles made plenty of moves this offseason that can be deemed as my most favorite, however one stands out to me above all of them.
The decision to resign Brandon Graham has been, by far, my favorite move. Since 2006, out of every pass rusher who has had 2,000 or more pass rushing snaps, Graham ranks second only to Von Miller in win percentage with 18.6%, according to ProFootballFocus. He had the fifth most quarterback pressures in the league last season with 77. He’s eclipsed 50 QB pressures in each season since 2014, joining only three other edge defenders.
Sure the return of DJax is great, adding Jordan Howard was critical, and the draft was strong, but keeping a key piece in the relentless attack of the Eagles’ defensive line was the most important move out of them all.