PFT Ranks the Eagles

Posted: July 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 63 Comments »

Pro Football Talk is doing a countdown of how they’ve ranked the 32 NFL teams. The Eagles rank 13th overall. Here are their comments:

There were some blips along the way, but there weren’t many questions about whether Chip Kelly could devise a winning NFL offense by the end of his first season as the Eagles’ head coach.

Philadelphia went 10-6, took the NFC East title with a Week 17 victory over the Cowboys and scored the fourth-most points in the league behind Nick Foles‘ 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. Even with DeSean Jackson in Washington, there’s every reason to think that the offense should be just as good in 2014 if not better thanks to a year’s experience in the system.

That makes the Eagles a good bet to contend for another division title and our panel ranks them No. 13, which is higher than any of the other NFC East teams. To vault even higher, the Eagles will need to make strides on defense and our voters appear to need some convincing that those strides will take place this season.

This all seems pretty reasonable to me. I love ripping on PFT when they say dumb things, but I don’t have a problem with someone picking the Eagles as the 13th best NFL team.

You can certainly make a case that the Eagles will be better than that. There are only a handful of teams I think are definitely better. There are several teams where you can argue for both sides.

PFT also did a preview of the Eagles that seems reasonable. Here’s the overall conclusion.

The Eagles won the division last year and there isn’t a team that’s clearly better than them heading into this season, so a repeat should be their goal.

Barring injuries, the biggest reason to think that the Eagles may take a step back is that Foles is unlikely to throw 27 touchdowns against two interceptions again this season. More turnovers would put more pressure on a defense that’s still finding its way and that could lead to worse results this time around.

Given how strong the offense looks, though, Foles would have to pick up some of Sanchez’s habits from the Jets to keep the Eagles from competing in the NFC East even if the defense doesn’t make any major strides this season.

I don’t get too caught up in power polls and rankings. They’re fun, but don’t mean much. Getting to the playoffs and winning in the postseason is far more important than rankings in July. Or even October.

Teams I see as clearly better than the Eagles:

Seahawks
Niners
Broncos

That’s it.

You can certainly argue about:

Saints
Panthers
Packers
Patriots
Bengals
Colts
Chiefs
Cardinals
Bears
Lions

I probably lean toward the Eagles being in the Top 10, but then again I’m probably a bit biased.

_


  • Joe Minx

    I would include the Saints in the ‘clearly better than’ category right now, although only by a slim margin.

    Also, are links that are supposed to be underlined showing up as strikethrough for anyone else? It confuses my eyes & makes me think Tommy changed something from the initial writing before I realize it’s actually a linked page.

    • TommyLawlor

      PFT links have a strikethrough and I have no idea why.

      Saints are probably better, but I’m not so sure they are clearly better. They did lose their 2 best players – Sproles & Jenkins. (obviously that is a completely unbiased comment…)

      • Cafone

        I’m not a wordpress expert, but it is adding a “broken_link” css class to the links. You can try to figure out why it thinks the links are no good (maybe remove the final forward slash?). Or maybe you could try using bit.ly or tinyurl.com to shorten the link. Or, you could modify the CSS for your site’s theme and remove the strikethrough in the broken_link class.

        Or just not worry about it because it’s not a huge deal.

    • Daniel Norman Richwine

      Given that they beat us the last time they played us, you can say they were better then. Given it was a very close game that could have gone either way I don’t agree they are clearly better.

  • anon

    Interesting article from fishduck regarding Kelly’s use of brad smith and a peek into his use of “mobile substitute qbs” when he’s got pocket passers.

    http://fishduck.com/2014/07/chip-kelly-brad-smith-and-the-wildcat/

    Thoughts on the article and its conclusion?

    • Baloophi

      The article kind of just breaks down the Brad Smith at QB plays and explains why it’s not Wildcat rather than offer any particular insight, but it was a nice reminder of some red zone calls that almost made me puke. The fake throwback pass against Dallas in the third quarter of what was essentially a playoff game almost caused an instant coronary.

      I do wonder what the real goal of calling these plays is (other than scoring). Is it to test / confuse the defense long enough to negate the “short field” defensive advantage inside the ten yard line? Is it simply to put something on tape so there’s a panic whenever Brad Smith subs in? Is it to specifically target a DB who excels in run support? Per the article, when Foles lined up outside, Peterson covered him, which is a great way to remove him from the play.

      On paper, I see how putting a better athlete at QB would eliminate the need to sift block the DE on the read option, but it seems like it would only be good for a play and not worth losing

      I will add that we should remember Brad Smith’s “versatility” as an emergency QB when projecting the roster at WR…

      • deg0ey

        I tend to think the goal is the getting stuff on tape thing. If you run enough plays with Smith at QB, the opposition has to plan for it. Also, by having Foles go play WR, they can switch to this without substituting which means they don’t need to let the D switch players. Probably just another attempt to create mismatches and confusion.

        • Baloophi

          Sort of an evil genius, long-term play then…

          Perhaps running that play against Dallas means we can generate panic in an important game next season and then simply have Brad Smith hand the ball to McCoy… provided he can catch the snap.

          • deg0ey

            Exactly – maybe even have him throw one to Foles in garbage time at some point to keep up the pretence that Nick is really a receiver on this play.

          • Baloophi

            Also – excellent point on how Foles shifting out eliminates the “substitution breather” for the defense. With Sproles shifting around there might be some tired / confused linebackers…

          • deg0ey

            Yeah, that was the only reason I could come up with for using Smith in the first place. If Chip wanted to run a play with a more mobile QB than Foles, he could’ve just subbed in Vick – the problem being that the opposition could also change personnel, whereas if you bring Smith in as a receiver 2 plays earlier, they’re stuck with whichever defenders are out there when you switch his position with Foles.

      • Cafone

        Brad Smith was a mid-season signing. With a full year under his belt, perhaps Kelly will feel more comfortable calling plays for him.

        • GEAGLE

          Yup… I think a clear indication of Chip really really liking Brad was putting that kind of responsibility so soon since arriving… The fact that he thought so highly of him to put him as a redzone QB so soon after arriving here, makes me think he will be part of this offense going forward in some capacity

          • anon

            I’m ok with it. I like that Chip continues to think outside of the box of B. Smith played better thing all those passes are TDs. Be interested to see if he does a designed run.

          • GEAGLE

            True that!

        • Baloophi

          I would posit that Kelly felt plenty comfortable calling plays for him – you don’t let him throw a pass in the red zone in the 3rd quarter during a must-win game against Dallas unless you feel comfortable.

          I guess I’m more questioning both the situational wisdom of these calls as well as the overall benefit: Sure, it gives Foles a play off and perhaps keeps the read DE honest on that one particular down (and eliminates the need for the TE sift block), but is there a “greater good” beyond that, other than putting something on tape for other DC’s to worry about? Keep in mind that having Brad take snaps at QB is also taking the ball away from Foles… unless he throws to him, and I’m guessing Foles isn’t much a YAC-demon.

          If we start seeing Brad Smith at QB 5 times a game I really hope we do better than fumble, two yard gain, incomplete, etc.

  • SteveH

    Thought I’d mention Jimmy’s link on the side there seems to no longer take you directly to his stuff but to a list of different writers.

    • TommyLawlor

      That’s a problem Philly.com is having. They’re working on it.

  • xmbk

    Reasonable list, though I’d replace the Lions with the Rams.

    • anon

      yeah they are a qb away but their division is crazy.

      • RobNE

        Maybe the Rams play better and give the other division teams some losses, clearing our way for a bye easier.

  • Insomniac

    Panthers and Saints are a tier above us. Bengals need more from Dalton to ascend. I think the Colts are the best AFC comparison talent-wise to us. I don’t see the Chiefs being on the same level but they’ve proven me wrong. Bears are on borrowed time before they need to rebuild completely.

    • deg0ey

      I wouldn’t put the Panthers above us at all – I’m pegging them squarely in the one-year-wonder category until they prove otherwise.

      • Ark87

        I agree. Living in NC, I had to watch a lot of Panthers games. That offense is just bad. Cam carries it, but always at the cost of his body. Basically he tries to be a pocket QB for the first 3 quarters and is usually good for a field goal or 2. Then he has to go all out and win the game as a dual threat with very little help, takes a beating in the process. The D was legit, very very good. That said, piss poor cap management has taken a toll. That and the Kraken was found guilty of crackin’ into his girlfriend. I’d argue he was much more vital to that D than Kuechly (that elite pass rush helped out their mercenary DB’s tremendously). If they lose him to legal problems, they’re in trouble.

      • Insomniac

        Defense wins. They might not have DBs but they have one of the best front 7s in the game. Cam is in a similar situation like McNabb pre-TO. It’s not pretty but they win.

    • bsuperfi

      The Colts are a great comparison, especially because sustained success goes hand in hand with strong QB play. Luck is better in the measureables department, but right now he’s neck and neck with Foles and Wilson in my mind in terms of good young QBs. Luck has the higher ceiling as a QB centerpiece for a team, but Foles seems to fit the system perfectly (minus the running ability).

      • anon

        Agree, though feel like Luck is asked to do too much.

  • RobNE

    It’s just a list, but 13 is too high. The Cards are below us one spot, who we beat, then the Bears, who will crushed. It’s a one game sample, but how are the Bears better than us?

    I couldn’t find the full list on the website, so that makes it hard to comment. As Tommy pointed out, there are a few teams that we are right there with, but even giving out some coin flips I don’t see us as high as 13.

    We switched QB’s a few times last year, had our 3rd QB on no reps thrust into a game or two, had a first year coach, had really, really bad safety play. I’m not sure how that all doesn’t point to a trend up (at least on paper in July).

    I put the Pats above us. Probably the Packers too, plus the 3 Tommy listed.

    • Dominik

      Sorry mate, but I don’t get your point. “13 is too high” and you put 5 teams above us? And even with coin flips, you don’t see us “as high as 13″.

      Maybe it’s a language problem for me, I’m no native speaker, but “too high” for me would mean: they ranked us higher (better) than we are, while I get the impression you think we’re ranked too low (so we’re better than the list suggests).

      • Ark87

        yeah it’s just a way of speak, as in 13 is a higher number then 5. It’s not typical, but technically not inconsistent with the point he’s trying to make.

        • RobNE

          yes Ark87 explained it. 13 is higher, perhaps I was sloppy with my language.

      • GEAGLE

        Really? Good for you…I would have never guessed you weren’t a native

        • Dominik

          Thanks, mate. English speaking girlfriend (although she speaks better german than I speak english) and reading everything about the Eagles that I can find, while discussing it with this great community and Eagles fans in general, certainly helps. ;)

          What happened to your job situation? Read a while ago that your great boss died and you didn’t know how your job will look like in the future.

          • GEAGLE

            Fortunately I was only out of work for like 3 weeks…I’m at the business office at chester county hospital now..
            ..
            It’s actually a blessing in disguise, I was working for a 93yr old man with Parkinson’s, I knew it wasn’t lasting forever, and I knew I wouldn’t get to keep my job when he passed away, so I was always going to have to take that next step and do something else, which always kind of weighed on the back of my mind….fortunately it only cost me 3 weeks out of work(I go crazy without a purpose)…
            ..
            Funny that the 3 weeks out of work, I lost, my appetite for blogging, it was when I posted the least…something about talking Eagles while on the clock and getting paid for it makes it so much more enjoyable for me…when I was laying around the house for 3 weeks doing nothing, I barely felt like posting.. It worked out.. Thanks mate..
            ..
            Bet you enjoyed the World Cup….are u still in Germany? If so, do me a favor…sixers second round pick Serbian Vasilje Micic just signed with bayern Munich, check him out from time to time if you watch basketball, and let me know how he looks….I followed all the top euros when I was in Italy years ago, and I’m curious to know how they like now that they are grown up

          • Dominik

            Great to hear that, mate. Hope you have as much freedom as you had before when it comes to blogging in the comment section. :)

            You bet I enjoyed the World Cup. I was very nervous during the games, but if was fun, of course. And very deserved for the players. When I think about Miro Klose – a player Chip Kelly would adore from a personality standpoint, btw. – he deserves it so much. Great for guys like him or Schweinsteiger to finally win it all.

            I’m not a huge basketball fan, despite living in Bamberg, which is the powerhouse of german basketball besides Bayern. I follow the playoffs, though. And I will watch Micic when Bayern plays Bamberg, if nothing else, I can promise you that. ;)

            In Germany, Kroos is a little bit like McNabb in Philly. Respected, but not really loved overall. Will be interesting how he plays at Real Madrid next season.

    • bill

      The three TL listed are the top tier, with the Niners in some danger of slipping. Then the Packers, Pats, and Saints make my next tier, mainly on the strength of their proven high-level QBs. If Brady or Brees show their age, those teams could slip down a tier. After that, I’d put the Eagles in the next tier. I agree with Insomniac that the Colts are the best comparison, and, forced to make a call, I’d put them ahead of the Eagles. Despite the bad game in December, I think the Bears are close (but aging in key areas), and the Cardinals are a pretty good comparison, too; last year may have been a mirage, but they look to be heading in the right direction. I would pick the Eagles over them, if forced, once again based mainly on QB considerations. Ditto for the Chiefs. Bengals probably belong in that tier, as well. Lions? Gotta show me a little something more before I think they’re in that tier – they have the talent, but they’re not a ‘team’ that belongs in that tier, yet.

      • RobNE

        I agree, I’d move the Saints up too.

      • Dominik

        Good argument. But I’d put us over the Colts. While their D has a way better pass rush, I don’t think they’re better overall. We’re better against the run, for example.

        The reason I think we’re the better team is more weapons on offense and better coaching. Plus: they have a bad O-Line and therefore no real running game. That puts too much pressure on the great Luck to get it done, while Nick has Shady, JP etc. to give him some breathing room.

        I don’t think they have better receivers overall. Wayne, sure, but we have two solid vets and two hungry rookies. One of them is already a Saint. ;) I’m kidding.

  • Ark87

    Agree with the big 3. The only team of the rest of the bunch that I think had a clear case for being better than us is the saints. They beat us at home in a pretty convincing way. If we eliminated all our mistakes we could have won, but the Saints didn’t exactly play their best game of the year either. Also, I really like what they did this off season (on paper). Really interested to see what they do with Cooks. A lot of their success will depend on their D proving their success was no fluke.

    Seems to me the pendulum has swung back to NFC dominance.

  • Tumtum

    I think it is pretty clear that the Lions, Bears and even the Bengals shouldn’t be compared to the Eagles.

    Talent wise the Lions and Bengals are probably better than the Eagles overall. The Bears on the other hand have 2 WR, 1RB, and an OKAY QB. Their O-line is nothing special and the defense was historically bad last year. McCown played like his hair was on fire, so I think Cutler will be a regression from a productivity stand point. We all know Cutler has never been safe with the ball either. You put that defense in a bad situation and you are returning a kickoff pretty quick.

    The Lions might have the most talent in the NFL but have yet to show us anything, and are coming off of 2 losing seasons in a row. The Bengals have seemed to wilt in the spot light. Of the 3 teams I could most see putting them above the Birds, but they proven they can’t get over the hump for 3 years running.

    The Chiefs remain in the conversation as possibly better than the Eagles for their start of the season last year only. They lost talent and didn’t have much ability in the draft or money in FA to add.

    • bsuperfi

      Totally agree about the Lions. It goes to show how important having a good organization, from the owners through the coaches and staff, is to winning.

    • anon

      It’s really hard to tell how we compare to teams I think our schedule this year will give us a much better indication. Based on what we did to carolina in pre-season i think we’d smash them in regular season.

      • Tumtum

        Nick Foles for some reason is yet again a bit of an unknown, just because of; “no way a 3rd round pick with limited physical skills can produce at that level”, type of assessments from “experts”. I call BS. We know he is good at this point. Live with it “experts”.

        Talent wise I think its pretty obvious where we stack up. The only area where I think there should be trouble judging is if there were coaching changes on the other teams. Bengals did switch OC/DC, Lions have a whole new staff. Don’t think the Bears changed anything though?

        • anon

          Think they got new players that D imploded after Lovie left. Offensively we’re obviously top of the pack but it’s unclear where our defense puts us. We won a lot of games last year but we didn’t really play anyone during that last run, and then we lost to the Vikings (any given sunday).

          Every fan overrates their team, but i think we’re better than 13. If we got 10-6 this year we’ll have quieted the critics b/c our schedule is no joke.

  • bsuperfi

    I’m starting to get a little annoyed at the meme that Foles won’t be as good as last year. It’s clear that the INT numbers almost definitely won’t be replicated (though he is very safe with the ball, to be sure).

    But Foles threw 7 of his 27 TDs in one game, which really inflates his TD total and masks his areas for improvement. I wouldn’t be surprised to see real improvement this season. I’ll take INTs here and there for more TDs more regularly. It’s the cost of doing business.

    This isn’t to say Foles is going to become “elite”, but he’s got as good of a shot as any of the young QBs out there like Wilson and Luck who are more of the media darlings.

    • anon

      Everyone who plays with him says he’s the truth, im good with that.

      • GEAGLE

        And that’s all that matters! THE TRUTH! #RAINMAKER #FLOODERoftheBLACKHOLE

      • Ark87

        Love the game when Trent was Mic’d up. Not only did it really show how violently he plays, but the sideline convo’s were pretty sweet. Seemed like the D is authentically impressed with Foles, not just press conference team speak.

    • Anders

      http://subscribers.footballguys.com/apps/article.php?article=woodspotlightnickfolesqb

      Its called regression to the mean, it has nothing to do with him as a player, but his over all stats.

      • bsuperfi

        I understand the concept. The point is that statistical arguments made over a couple sentences are often unhelpful or, even worse, misleading. I’ve seen far too many sports writers make the argument that Foles will be worse without any disaggregation of data, supplementary qualitative evidence, etc. It’s sloppy analysis from people who should/actually do know better.

        • Anders

          Pretty clear without any hard evidence that Foles aint going to post a 119 passer rating again next season.

          • bsuperfi

            You’re right. But there are ways for a player to be better over the course of a season and have a lower passer rating. There’s a lot going on, but with Foles as a player and the rest of the team.

          • Anders

            100% true, but remember when people say he cant throw 27 TDs to 2 ints, it has nothing to do with his overall play, but only his stats.

          • bsuperfi

            Ok, I think we’re actually arguing over semantics. Here’s my last beating of this dead horse from Tommy’s quote of PFT:

            “Barring injuries, the biggest reason to think that the Eagles may take a step back is that Foles is unlikely to throw 27 touchdowns against two interceptions again this season.”

            Just seems like PFT is using stats to make a broader argument about Foles’ and the entire offense’s effectiveness. Not just a fantasy football argument.

  • GEAGLE

    Hahahah fools wish there were 13 better teams than the birds..

    • A_T_G

      To be fair, the fools only wish there were 12 teams better than the Eagles.

      • GEAGLE

        FAir enough

  • anon

    You gotta give it to him – Beli on cares about winning and exploiting every advantage he can.

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/18/belichick-likes-thursday-games-would-gladly-take-more-than-one/

  • GEAGLE

    The ultimate game of inches..the smallest things add up to make all the difference in the world on Sunday…..Can’t help giggling at the size and physicality of our WRs(not named Maclin)….taking Desean out, and replacing him with 6’2 217-220lbs..DBs are going to get trampled in our run game..

    The difference between Deseans meh “blocking” and an extra man on the feild who will smash the DB, I expect to lead to a scarier run game than last year with shady breaking more long runs than ever…Don’t really care who we play…bring all these top defenses…
    ..
    Just having 5OL together for the second year in this offense, should make a BIG difference.. People can talk that Dumb ish about how DCs will study Chip all summer and be better equipped to stop us, but their isn’t anything to study. It’s all so simple… Let’s be honest, no DC is coming up with some new way to defense Chips ZRs…he has used the ZR against every defense imaginable…
    .
    I don’t care what you study all summer..it’s simple math. Two of our OL will smash 1 of your DL, and then our hogs are agile enough to peal off and go hunting for LBs to flatten at the second level…simple math. My 6’2 220lb WR is going to smash your 6’0 200lb CB in the run game….unless you managed to stock up on 6’3 DBs, AND HAVE LIKE 6 of them on your roster, you are getting fucking trampled no matter who you throw out there and how you decide to play us..can’t stop our run game

    • GEAGLE

      I will take Evan Mathis and Kelce against any linebacker in the league. Patrick Willis, Keachly, Lavonte! Wagner???advantage EAGLES OL

    • Andy124

      I just hope that
      a) Lane is not actually suspended or
      b) when he comes back, we see the 2nd year jump instead of a guy who needed PEDs to succeed and is no longer taking them.

      Then we’ve got JP in his second year off the ACL, Herremans being fully healthy right from the start, Kelce another year stronger and Mathis not falling off yet, Polk not bouncing every single run like Brown, Sproles getting chunk yardage on his attempts… ah man this is going to be fun.

      • GEAGLE

        Teams are getting smashed…I’m not concerned….

        Let’s pretend all the muscles Lane added this offseason were soley off of PEDs, I’d happily take last years body, with a more mature football brain in this scheme and feel confident that you are getting trampled.. There is no way we saw the best this OL has to offer yet, it’s not possible..

  • Ben

    Great read Tommy.
    I really hope that the NFL sees us as the 13th best team in the NFL because that means they have not been paying too close attention to what this team has been doing.
    Our offense is a powerhouse offense, fueled by a running game that is second to none.
    Every player has a unified mindset when you talk about execution.
    All of our players block and the very basic fundamentals are being taught is such a way that our blocking schemes seem unstoppable.
    Our top running game opens up the passing game and we just happen to have a QB who really gets it and his poise is only exceeded by his intelligence.
    He doesn’t make the bad decision that loses games.
    I think this year he starts making faster decisions and remains repetitively accurate.
    If our defense gets even a little bit more efficient then we have a good chance to be far better ranked than 13th, we can be #1 in the NFL and be watching a parade on Broad IMO.