After six weeks, is there any doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL’s most complete team?
Their roster and salary cap are a blueprint for floundering franchises to emulate. Here’s how this undefeated squad was constructed:
EAGLES TOP PRIORITY: O-LINE
The Eagles have committed endless resources to build the league’s best O-line. Their starters and four high-quality backups include two 1st round picks, two 2nds, a 3rd and a 4th.
When they reach free agency, management doesn’t let them leave. All nine players have spent their entire careers in Philadelphia. Continuity is critical in this unit.
All nine are athletic, not the oversized, top-heavy types whose only strength is pass protection. All nine can run, pull, lead, trap block, fold block, execute the vogue pin-and-pull technique.
How important are they? In victories over Detroit, Arizona and Dallas, they delivered long, late, clock-draining drives that forced their opponents to tap out. Their mantra: “Who’s toughest longest?”
EAGLES BRING DEFENSIVE LINEMAN IN WAVES
Like the O-line, the club has invested heavily in its defensive front. Of the top 15 slots on this year’s salary cap, five are occupied by D-linemen.
The Eagles have bought unmatched depth. Sunday against Dallas, they rotated seven D-linemen. Each got a minimum of 18 snaps. None took more than 50 snaps. That translates into fresh pass rushers in the fourth quarter.
PREMIUM POSITIONS V. NON-PREMIUM
Recognizing that the market for top-shelf tight ends remains curiously undervalued, the club happily pays Dallas Goedert $14.25 million per year.
Conversely, the team’s three highly productive running backs are all on rookie contracts. When leading RB Miles Sanders reaches free agency in March, he’ll be shocked to see how little he’s offered to return. Harsh as it may be management believes his career 5.0 yards per carry is a function of the offensive line.
Similarly, the team’s two starting off-the-ball linebackers cost a combined $5.2 million. But rush LB is a different category. Haason Reddick is a bargain at $15 million per year. Already this season, he has 4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
EAGLES CUT LOSSES AND MOVE ON
The Eagles had the right idea in trying to build their wide receiver room with NFL-ready high draft choices. But they whiffed on JJ Arcega-Whiteside (2nd round, 2019) and Jalen Reagor (1st round, 2020). Rather than let these mistakes linger, as many clubs do, they traded both.
They also develop players. QB Jalen Hurts may be the most improved player in the league, but Philadelphia boasts other development stories. All-Pro center Jason Kelce was a 6th-round draft choice. O-line coach Jeff Stoutland has converted Jordan Mailata from an Australian rugby player into a dependable left tackle.
CAPITALIZE ON OTHER CLUBS MISFORTUNES
This is GM Howie Roseman’s greatest skill. Consider his two excellent cornerbacks.
In 2020, when Detroit All-Pro Darius Slay clashed with Coach Matt Patricia, Roseman traded a 3rd and 5th and gave Slay the new contract he was seeking. This past spring/summer, Roseman patiently waited for the cap-strapped New York Giants to cut James Bradberry, then outhustled 10 other clubs to sign him.
In this year’s pre-draft period, when the New Orleans Saints were panting to move up in pursuit of WR Chris Olave, Roseman fleeced them for next year’s 1st round pick and their 2024 2nd rounder. With the Saints struggling at 2-4, that 2023 1st round choice is looking very handsome.
A few weeks later, when A.J. Brown demanded a new contract and Tennessee misread the changing WR market, Roseman saw a chance to add the missing piece to his offense. He traded a 1st and 3rd and extended Brown at a reasonable price.
During training camp, unaccountably, New Orleans called again. Nickel corner/safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson was refusing to practice without increased compensation. The Saints, capped out, declined. Roseman recognized a missing piece for his defense. He made the trade for a mere 5th and 6th.
It’s widely acknowledged that the Eagles won the 2022 off-season. So it not surprising they’re also winning the regular season.