So far this offseason, there has been a ton of chatter concerning the reigning NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles. As is often the case, the talk regarding the team has been incredibly polarizing.
Some people have opted for the glass-half-full approach, highlighting the Eagles strong roster core and proven coaching staff- particularly up top- as reasons for optimism.
Others have taken the glass-half-empty approach, clamoring over the marquee free agents that the Birds have missed out on (i.e Byron Jones, Chris Harris Jr., Dante Fowler, etc.) and the (few) remaining roster holes on the team.
Though my sentiment towards the team lies somewhere in between the two, let’s take a closer look at the optimistic angle.
Mere days into the free agency period, the team has already managed to fortify two major roster holes that have plagued them over the last couple of years. First, they signed nose tackle and four-year Steelers starter Javon Hargrave to a three-year, $39M deal. Hargrave, 27, is regarded around the league as one of the premier interior talents and should slot beautifully alongside Eagles captain Fletcher Cox.
Following a week one, season-ending injury to DT Malik Jackson, the Eagles defense was limited far too often by the ineffectual production of defensive tackles not named Cox. With Hargrave in tow, expect the pass-rush to get back to their more dominant ways, in addition to the Eagles being able to rest Cox a bit more while they deploy Hargrave and Jackson- which should benefit him greatly during the postseason stretch.
Also, despite nose tackle not being the sexiest of positions, the potential impact of Hargrave should not be overlooked. He is an absolute wrecking ball in the trenches. So much so, that he routinely attracts double teams- a clear sign of the type of impact he makes on the field. Now paired with the unstoppable force that is Fletcher Cox, offensive coordinators will have to pick their poison on a weekly basis, much to the delight of the Eagles. Fittingly referred to as ‘The Gravedigger,’ the newly-acquired Hargrave will look to remain just that in Philly.
Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, the Eagles (finally) landed a true shutdown cornerback in Darius Slay. After expressing midseason interest in him last year, the Eagles get their man- swapping a third and fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft for his services.
An agonizing trademark in Philly dating back to 2013, the team has struggled to maintain any level of stability or consistent success at the cornerback position- a trend Slay looks to buck in 2020.
A seven-year starter and 3x Pro Bowler in Detroit, Slay could take the Birds defense to a completely new level. His ability to shadow and negate typically-dominant wide receiver threats is to be admired and gives Eagles DC Jim Schwartz a lot more breathing room and the flexibility to deploy different strategies.
Despite Eagles GM Howie Roseman and Co.’s impressive efforts so far this offseason, many (the glass-half-empty-crowd) still aren’t convinced the team has done enough, and even question whether or not the team is likely to repeat as division champs- let alone compete for a title.
Though I am not advocating that the Eagles should be the odds-on Super Bowl favorites, I would like to contest some of the absurdity I’ve heard in regards to the Eagles outlook this upcoming season. So, with that being said, let’s tackle five myths currently surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports