That’s where many media outlets had the Eagles ranked in the league coming into 2019.
The trades for DeSean Jackson and Jordan Howard made Eagles fans salivate over the potential of the offense. The signing of Malik Jackson gave us dreams of a front four so dominant that no offensive line would be able to prevent at least five sacks per game.
The drafting of the left tackle of the future. The drafting of the running back and wide receiver of the future. Depth pieces through the rest of the draft.
It was all there for the Eagles to go on another Super Bowl run.
But then came the IR designations. Malik Jackson, Jordan Mailata, Corey Clement, Hassan Ridgeway, DeSean Jackson, Darren Sproles, Rudy Ford, Alshon Jeffery, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Ronald Darby, Daeshon Hall, and Brandon Brooks all placed on the IR throughout the season.
Lane Johnson and Jordan Howard out of the line up for four and six games, respectively.
Players leaving games, coming back hobbled. This is all a part of the NFL, but did it have to be this frequent?
But here we are. After a bumpy and bruising season, we’re looking at a division champion and a third year in a row playoff team.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you:
To the “replacements”
Promoted then waived. Promoted then waived. Signed to practice squad then released. Rinse, repeat.
Notifications like this lit up the cell phones of Eagles fans nationwide. This was followed by groans you could hear over the Ben Franklin Bridge.
“They signed WHO?!” “Why is HE being signed and not HIM?!” “WHAT THE HELL HOWIE?!”
For the casual fan, these were the overwhelming responses to those moves.
For those of us who knew the team in and out, the response was largely “what was the team waiting for?”
To the players that came to the team through the 16 practice squad moves throughout the season: thank you.
You ignored the noise. You ignored the criticism. The deafening sounds of fans and media “experts” saying you’re nobodies didn’t phase you. You came to play. You came to ball out.
Boston Scott made history, and Greg Ward shined. Robert Davis and Deontay Burnett had some big catches, while Josh Perkins had a huge touchdown catch versus the Giants. Craig James overtook Sidney Jones in the early part of the season, and Ryan Lewis and Alex Ellis provided much-needed depth. Alex Singleton was a special teams monster (although I hoped all season to see him on defense). Bruce Hector provided much more than a stat sheet can show while Anthony Rush and Albert Huggins showed why their previous teams were wrong to let them off their practice squads. Marcus Epps went from Vikings practice squad to Eagles third safety.
For all of your hard work and dedication to making the Eagles great, thank you.
To the defense and special teams
We’ve had a rocky relationship. I’ve spent so much time and energy blaming you for the struggles. Wondering why you would waste such a great offensive drive only to give up points as soon as you got back out on the field.
But the fact of the matter is, no matter how many points or yards you gave up you still played your hearts out.
Fletch, you were an absolute mad man this season. You threw around that Seattle offensive line like rag dolls last week. BG, you continue to cement your legacy. From “bust” to indispensable, what kind of pressure could this line get on the quarterback without you?
To the other players on the defensive line, 154 quarterback pressures? Jeeeeeez. You guys loathed the quarterback. You pressured and hit them constantly, you may not have had the sack numbers you wanted but you were a force.
To the linebackers, another polarizing group of the season. Sure you could learn to wrap up a bit better, as there were many missed tackles on easy opportunities. But let’s not discredit your season. A career-high in tackles for the white snake, Nathan Gerry. T.J. Edwards showing that he’s a high-quality linebacker. Nigel Bradham showing he’s alive. KGH, you suffered a disappointing end to the season, but I do hope you come back.
To Sidney Jones. I was SO excited to see you drafted. Defended your ability at every turn. To see you not play to your full potential and then get benched earlier this season was so heartbreaking, I gave up hope. But you came back strong, you proved all doubters wrong. You proved that you belong in the NFL and in the Eagles’ plans.
To Malcolm, another perfect season?! Every snap for two years in a row?! A true iron man and leader. For all that you have done for the Eagles and the Philadelphia community, thank you. If this is the end of the road, as we all know your contract situation, thank you.
To the other members of the secondary, yeah I screamed at you. I threw things across the room when you gave up a huge play. My daughter might have woken up from some naps because of some cursing caused by a missed assignment. But that feisty attitude you all had this season is what an Eagles defender should have. That willingness to never back down from an opponent is just what this city needs.
To Ronald Darby, bye.
Jake Elliot, you’ve had some HUGE kicks, both good and bad. Despite all the negativity you’ve heard the last few weeks, you earned that extension and I’m excited to have the next David Akers on the team.
To Cam Johnston, Mr. Iron Leg. You’ve pinned the opponent back many, many times. You have made us feel better about losing Donnie Longball to retirement. We hope you are with us for your entire career.
Finally, Rick Lovato. We were enamored with Jon Dorenbos and questioned your arrival. But you have been a rock as the long snapper and Johnston and Elliot wouldn’t be doing their thing without you.
To all of you, thank you.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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