More Disrespect For The Champs…Are You Even Surprised?
Just a reminder, the Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champions. Even after the high levels of disrespect this team faced, they prevailed. It took beating the Rams in Week 14 for the rest of the NFL to take the Eagles seriously. There was always an excuse for each victory. Either “the Cowboys don’t have Ezekiel Elliott or Sean Lee”, “Cam Newton has no weapons” or “Since they couldn’t beat the Seahawks, they’re not legit.”
Well Eagles fans, it’s that time of year again when the NFL Top 100 list is being unveiled. The NFL Top 100 list is the top 100 players in the league as voted by the players themselves. The NFL announced players ranked 60-100 so far. However, it is clear that even in this short list of 40 players, there is even more disrespect toward our Super Bowl champions.
A Recap Of Last Year’s List
Going into the 2017 season, the Eagles had three current players and two new players on the Top 100 list. The highest ranked Eagle was Fletcher Cox at 38, followed by Jay Ajayi at 69 (but he was still with the Dolphins at the time) LeGarrette Blount at 80, Malcolm Jenkins at 90, and Brandon Graham at 93.
Let’s take a second to analyze the disrespect here alone. Not only was Carson Wentz left off the list, but Dak Prescott ranked at 14. That was higher than Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, AND Ben Roethlisberger. There were no offensive Eagles players on the list based on the 2016 campaign. Granted, 2016 was an average year for the Birds at best, but there were glimmers of promise.
This Year Might Be Worse
Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles worked out the kinks from the 7-9 2016 season (clearly) and had a sensational year on both sides of the ball. The offense was electric and the defense was dominant. The successful year finished with Super Bowl by a backup quarterback who also won Super Bowl MVP. You’d think this would mean that the Eagles would finally get some respect right? WRONG. I didn’t think it was possible, but the Eagles are getting more disrespect now than ever before. Let’s take a look at this year’s list to see why.
So far, only players ranked 60-100 have been released. There are four Eagles in that list of 40 players. That might already seem like an improvement from last year, but it is not. So far, the highest ranked Eagle on this list is Zach Ertz at 68, followed by Fletcher Cox at 69, Lane Johnson at 95, and Malcolm Jenkins at 96.
For Jenkins And Cox, Why Does This Matter On Paper?
First, let’s start with the obvious. Of the two players ranked last year (Cox and Jenkins), both of them moved back. Cox jumped back 29 spots and Jenkins back 6. Fletcher Cox did not put up some of the numbers he did last season. However, what do you expect from a man double teamed on every play? These offensive line coaches are smart. When you’re facing a beast like Fletcher Cox, double teams are necessary. However, he was still effective, so the jump doesn’t make sense.
This is the same circumstance with Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles defense had to switch their packages around every now and then because of their depleted linebacker corps. Malcolm Jenkins played several different positions and was consistently flying around the field making plays. His numbers were almost the exact same as in 2016. Last season, Jenkins recorded 69 total tackles and 2 interceptions. In 2016, he recorded 69 total tackles and 3 interceptions. Apparently, according to other NFL players 1 less interception equates to being a lesser player.
The Two New Faces From 2016’s List
Neither Zach Ertz nor Lane Johnson was on the 2016 top 100 list. For Lane Johnson, it might seem like an obvious reason why, but I will get to that later.
Zach Ertz led the Philadelphia Eagles in receiving yards in 2017. He also recorded a career-high 8 touchdown catches in the regular season and added one more in the playoffs. The only Eagle to have more receiving touchdowns this year was Alshon Jeffrey.
Lane Johnson had a spectacular year protecting Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Johnson, most notably completely shut down the NFL’s best pass rusher in Von Miller. During the Eagles/Broncos this season, Miller recorded 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, and 0 QB hurries. Why did Miller have those number? Because he lined up against the best tackle in the NFL. During the 2016 season, before Johnson was suspended, Carson Wentz was only sacked 4 times in 3 games. After losing Johnson, Wentz got sacked 29 more times over the course of 13 games.
Why Is There More Disrespect Than Appears At First Glance?
Okay, so that is why it is disrespectful from purely a numbers and stats standpoint. Let’s look at the other contributing factors that heighten the level of disrespect toward the Eagles.
The following players ranked higher than some or all of our Eagles on the list of 60-100 based on last year’s performances: Jimmy Garoppolo, J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr. Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman. Did you notice something interesting about all of these guys? None of them played more than 9 games during 2017. Now, it is true that J.J. Watt is an animal, as is OBJ, Chancellor, and Sherman. However, Watt only played in 5 games. Beckham only played in 4. Jimmy Garoppolo only played in 5, and one of them was against the Rams’ backups in week 17. There is absolutely no reason any of these players should be in front of Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Malcolm Jenkins or Lane Johnson.
I may be biased, but Lane Johnson is the best offensive tackle in the NFL. The offensive line is a whole different game when Johnson is out there. He is the integral piece to protecting Wentz, and he makes the players around him step up to be better as well. The Eagles had the best offensive line in football this year (even though NFL.com disagrees…did I mention MORE DISRESPECT?) and the majority of that is because of Lane Johnson
I would also like to point out that Kirk Cousins is also ranked higher than Lane Johnson and Malcolm Jenkins, but that’s neither here nor there.
The Culmination Of ALL Of The Disrespect
Jason Kelce summed up the amount of disrespect the Eagles had got leading up to the 2017 season. If you recall, he reminded the world of their notions that Jalen Mills can’t cover, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor can’t catch, Lane Johnson can’t stay off the juice and many MANY more. Howie Roseman addressed the lack of respect that the Eagles are receiving. He mentioned in a radio interview that he’s heard that people believe that the Eagles’ Super Bowl win was just a fluke. Patriots fans still don’t believe that Corey Clement or Zach Ertz’s touchdowns should have counted. Vikings fans are still bitter their team did not show up to play in the NFC Championship game.
Regardless of where the disrespect has come from, there has certainly been a lot of it. Jason Kelce has also chimed in on this topic of disrespect as well. He said to Kyle Brandt on Good Morning Football, “We’ve been a starving dog for 52 years and one bowl of food isn’t going to suffice the appetite. We’re still very much hungry. We’re still ready to get after it. And we’re vying to repeat this year.” And let’s be honest, if the disrespect continues down its current path, the dogs will be barking again.
I’m sure more head-scratchers will come as the rest of the list is released. Stay tuned for more updates.
Featured Image: Mark Smith via Flickr