The Front Seven

Posted: May 29th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 59 Comments »

Jim Schwartz doesn’t run a complex defense. He wants good pass rushers and playmakers. He then sets them free to attack and wreak havoc. When he has a good front seven, this works. When he doesn’t…you better have a good offense.

Luckily, the Eagles have a good front seven. Very good, in fact.

Gregg Rosenthal of ranked his top front sevens around the league. (warning…there is an obnoxiously loud ad that plays when you open that)

9) Philadelphia Eagles

Seven key cogs: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jordan Hicks, Timmy Jernigan, Vinny Curry, Nigel Bradham, Derek Barnett.

Philadelphia’s cornerbacks made this group look worse that it really was last season. The Eagles‘ front consistently applied pressure under Jim Schwartz. And the unit boasts enviable depth, with players like Chris Long and Beau Allen not listed above. Cox and Graham would be bigger stars if the Eagles weren’t knee-deep in that 7-9 bull—- the last two seasons. Jernigan and Barnett should add more juice than departed Eagles Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan supplied.

I think I would have put the Eagles a bit higher, but Rosenthal studies the league thoroughly and is pretty good at these types of evaluations.

He had the Chargers at 8 and Steelers at 7. I would have put the Eagles ahead of them.

No matter how you slice it, the front seven should be even better this year. Jernigan is a better pass rusher than Logan. The combination of Barnett and Chris Long is an upgrade over Connor Barwin. The Eagles are deeper and have better players.

I also think of one of the things that should boost the Eagles in the rankings is that they have an outstanding DE (Graham), DT (Cox) and LB (Hicks). That gives them playmakers inside, outside and on the second level.

It will be interesting to think about this list in 6 months and see where the teams rank at that point.


Speaking of DL, has a video of Elijah Qualls in action.

The young man is a lot of fun to watch. He is thick, but agile. He is disruptive. You’ll see him referred to as a run-stuffer because of his compact, thick build at 6-1, 313, but the Eagles got him to get upfield and make plays.

Just your typical NT, run-stuffer type.


Can we forgive him for missing a week of OTAs?

I’m willing to do it.

I’m interested to see if Marcus Smith shows up. He cannot afford to miss OTAs as a fringe player. He’s got to go above and beyond to prove to the coaches he deserves to be on the roster and contribute to this team. The Eagles have 4 good DEs in Graham, Curry, Barnett and Long. They will likely only keep one more guy. That could be Smith, Steven Means or Alex McCalister.

The Eagles need someone to be the 5th DE. They don’t care who it is. They need someone to step up and win that job.

Smith is working his way out of town. He can change that, but I wouldn’t bet a bug of Funyons on it. We’ll have to wait and see what Means and McCalister do.

The only advantage Smith has is that he showed the ability to contribute on STs last year. Means and McCalister have to show they can do that. Or maybe additions like Nate Gerry and Mack Hollins will fill those roles. There is flexibility in building a roster. The Eagles could always go light at DE (4 players) and heavy at another spot, knowing that player would contribute on STs.

The players should sort this out by how they perform in the OTAs, Training Camp and the preseason games. They’ll show who deserves a job and who doesn’t.


59 Comments on “The Front Seven”

  1. 1 Media Mike said at 12:56 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    “Can we forgive him for missing a week of OTAs?”

    Yes, I can. Cox is the best player on the team and doesn’t need to be running around for any of the voluntary stuff. The guy brings it on every snap all season long, so I find his specific case to be unquestionable. The only guys who should be flamed for missing OTAs are sucky bums who need the work and haven’t earned the “philosophical” (spare me the mangina routine a few of you went through with “voluntary” a few posts ago) right to miss work that they need to improve.

  2. 2 Miami_Adam said at 1:53 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Cool use of misogyny to make your point

  3. 3 Media Mike said at 1:54 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I take it you didn’t care for stepbrothers.

  4. 4 Miami_Adam said at 2:01 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    You can be the guy who uses “mangina” and the rest of us will be ones who punch you in the face to keep you out of the treehouse.

    WWE isn’t real either.

  5. 5 Media Mike said at 2:03 PM on May 29th, 2017:


  6. 6 daveH said at 2:15 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    What part of the WWE isn’t real ?
    The buffed out shape they are all in, the athletic tricks they do, the choreography in each ‘match’, the training, planning,the differnt personalities, the excecution of all, the frenzy of the crowd , the injuries?
    I used to think it wasn’t real until i saw Ted Arcedi in person. Saw Brutus Beefcake jump as high as possible off the 3rd turnbuckle. .. he was like 6’5″, and that turnbuckle was about 10 feet of the ground and when he jumped out was sofa king impressive to slam and bounce on sooner other massive dude and the mat … i was shocked how impressive it was .. i quickly cam to belive that the ‘fake’part was an inconsequential spec of the entire evening

  7. 7 Miami_Adam said at 2:18 PM on May 29th, 2017:


    I meant scripted.

  8. 8 daveH said at 2:20 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    F Yeah !!! Yes.

  9. 9 Forthebirds said at 10:19 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    Sorry. It’s to sports what fake new is to real news. I know a lot goes into it, and the wrestlers suffer a lot of injuries. But if you like to watch highly trained athletes go at each other, watch boxing. The Kell Brooks vs. Erroll Spence Jr. fight last week was amazing.

  10. 10 daveH said at 11:56 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    Ill give it a look. Appreciate the suggestion .. my preference is Moto GP .. each race is insane. . Watch the last 3 laps of the French Grand Prix .. and respects to America’s Nicky Hayden; passed away last week and not 1 mention seen on any sports show

  11. 11 Buge Halls said at 6:28 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I think you triggered him

  12. 12 Media Mike said at 6:30 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I don’t mind getting called out for word choice somebody else didn’t care for. I just found the whole argument about the definition of the word “voluntary” the other day to be incredibly vapid.

  13. 13 CrackSammich said at 1:13 PM on May 31st, 2017:

    I don’t think your part of the internet knows what that word means.

  14. 14 Buge Halls said at 2:11 PM on May 31st, 2017:

    By that I guess you mean the intelligent, grown-up internet who don’t see racism, homophobia, or misogyny behind every word. Sure we know what “triggered” means – it means somebody is being a little bitch (like you) over a word. Words only have the power you give them. Oops, did I trigger you again?

  15. 15 CrackSammich said at 4:16 PM on May 31st, 2017:

    No, you did not. Because I don’t have PTSD. Which is the context it was originally used in. If somebody was sexually assaulted and then gets a panic attack when a TV show puts in a graphic rape scene, it would have been nice to have a warning first so that person might not have had to deal with it. Your part of the internet decided that trigger warnings were an excuse for people to never hear bad words again and then argued against that strawman for the past five years. I hope you never have to deal with anyone in your life needing such a thing.

    You got to feel tough on the internet, though. So yay for you.

  16. 16 Buge Halls said at 7:47 AM on June 1st, 2017:

    You write like a fifth-grade drop-out. Please come back when you learn how to express yourself and tell us more lies. Maybe you’ll learn that words can have more than one meaning and don’t only mean what you want them to (or what you think they do). Maybe you’ll learn that the meaning of words evolves over time. But I doubt you will.

    So run along to your safe space and have another cup of hot cocoa and color in your coloring book. You’ll feel better. Maybe your mommy will make you some cinnamon toast and cut the crust off for you so you’ll feel better.

  17. 17 CrackSammich said at 8:25 PM on June 1st, 2017:

    I… don’t understand you people. I guess I would say that the point is just to not be a dick to people, but here you are, super offended about… I don’t even know.

    Again, you’re so tough.

  18. 18 CrackSammich said at 8:55 PM on June 1st, 2017:

    You right now:

  19. 19 Forthebirds said at 10:12 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    I’m definitely adding mangina to my 60 word vocabulary. Now, if I could only use it in a sentence. Brothers, help me out here.

  20. 20 Media Mike said at 12:57 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    The Marcus Smith roster spot as DE5 is interesting. Is he the 5th best DE on this roster; no doubt in my mind. Is he worth having on the roster if DE5 isn’t going to be active on game days; absolutely not. He’s 99% likely to not be on the team next year, so carrying him another year if he’s never going to be active is a waste of time over a developmental guy who they might lose off of the practice squad.

  21. 21 Dave said at 3:00 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Additionally, is he worth the extra $1.5M cap hit to be the 5th DE?

  22. 22 Media Mike said at 3:45 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    If he’s active; yes. But certainly not to be in the group of 7 dudes in the press box.

  23. 23 Media Mike said at 1:05 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    The Eagles front “7” is an interesting group.

    You have Fletcher Cox who is the best 4-3 DT in the NFL not named Aaron Donald.
    You have an ascending MLB in Hicks who seems to be getting better and better.
    You have a solid every down player in Graham who is as good of a DE2 as you can find in the NFL.
    Jernigan, Long, and Bradham are all guys who can play well in spots.

    If Vinny Curry stops stealing/making excuses, somebody steps up to be a competent WIL backer, and Barnett performs like the premium pick that he is; this group can be a lot better than 9th.

  24. 24 Dave said at 2:58 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I would agree with one exception, I would classify Graham as a DE1. By all metrics, as well as the time-tested eye test, he was excellent last year.

  25. 25 Dominik said at 5:21 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Agree. He didn’t have elite sack production, but he played at a very high level. Nothing against you, Mike, but I bet you can’t name 32 better DEs than Graham. He’s not elite, but he’s a good DE#1 imo

  26. 26 Media Mike said at 5:37 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Well if I’m only counting 4-3 DEs, I don’t need to get to 32. But You’re most likely correct that I’m not getting through a full league’s worth of starting 4-3 DE1s until I get to Graham.

    But yes, the lack of elite sack production is a glaring weakness with the DE group as a whole. The finality of bringing the QB to the ground (or strip sacking him) is way better than any “metric” people want to provide.

  27. 27 Dominik said at 8:28 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    I get that you need to finish. But you can teach that far easier to a player who at least pressures regulary than to MSII, who’s not even close to the QB.

    If Graham would be a better finisher, he’d be a Top 5 Pass Rusher in the league. But at least he’s elite when it comes to pressuring.

  28. 28 Dave said at 8:16 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I would actually qualify Graham as elite. Is he Khalil Mack? No. But there are more elite franchise QBs than elite 4-3 defensive ends. I would liken the Mack/Graham comparison to Tom Brady/Phillip Rivers…while elite, Rivers is not in the same Ballpark as Brady.

  29. 29 Dominik said at 8:25 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    It’s semantics, really. Graham is a good DE#1 imo. He’s far from Von Miller, Mack and Watt, no doubt. COULD still be elite. Depends on how you define elite.

  30. 30 unhinged said at 7:45 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I believe him when he says he was playing hurt. You can call it excuse making, but he sure looked different than previous seasons.

  31. 31 Media Mike said at 7:50 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I’d believe it if I was told is while we were assessing his play, not after. He only had 3.5 sacks in 2015, so it isn’t like this was a one year drop in production. I don’t tolerate that type of after the fact excuse making from the Flyers and I won’t tolerate it here. We’ll find out a lot this year in either case.

  32. 32 Forthebirds said at 10:24 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    I’m hoping Curry wasn’t making excuses. if he doesn’t play a lot better this year, meaning a minimum of 7 sacks, then he was.

  33. 33 Tumtum said at 5:58 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I was banging the front 7 drum harder than anyone at thia time last year. This year I am not nearly as high on them. In part, I’m sure, because they let me down so much last year. Mostly, I just don’t think this group is as good as that group was on paper, at this time last year.

    Sure I think this group will be better than last year, but last years group was noyhing short of awful. To be fair the LBs were fine. The line was yhe problem. I really am not sure why Fletch gets a pass around here but Curry is lambasted.

    I am not going to make any predictions on the line this year, because I clearly don’t have a good gauge on things. I just hope they are better this year!

  34. 34 Media Mike said at 6:18 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    “I really am not sure why Fletch gets a pass around here but Curry is lambasted.”

    Because it looks like Cox is busting it on every play and Curry couldn’t even outsnap underproducing Barwin.

  35. 35 Tumtum said at 9:11 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    He didn’t put the time in at some point to have such a drop in production going from a 3-4 2 gapper to a 4-3 attacker. It doesn’t make any sense if he put the effort in.

  36. 36 Media Mike said at 9:18 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I’d chalk that up to the rank uselessness of any DE not named Graham last year along with Logan being out so many games.

  37. 37 Tumtum said at 9:52 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I may or may not be employing the ancient reverse jinx technique. Impossible to know for sure..

  38. 38 Anders said at 3:32 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    Because 6.5 sacks is still great for a 4-3 DT no matter what.
    Also Cox played less than a 1/3 of his snap as a 2 gapper in 15.

  39. 39 Tumtum said at 10:55 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    6.5 sacks is a fine number, while a little below the pay grade, not something that would upset me. Just the stalemate that happened in seemingly every critical situation. That 6.5 seems hallow to me.

    I just didn’t see a nasty line last year, and it starts with Fletch in my book.

  40. 40 FairOaks said at 9:58 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Awful!?! Cmon, now. Maybe you had visions of Clyde/Jerome/Reggie, and anything worse than that was “awful”, but … no, just no. They were quite effective early in the season. They definitely regressed in the middle, but other teams did discover that our corners couldn’t cover for any amount of time, so the best approach was quick passes to not give the DL much time to get there. Even if you go just by sacks, Eagles were middle of the pack — something where half the league is worse is not “awful”. Eagles tied for 9th in both interceptions and forced fumbles.

    Granted, I think we had high expectations for Curry and Barwin which never materialized — and that definitely took them off any chance of being “great”. But overall they were still pretty good.

    If Jernigan is better (and healthier) than Logan, and Barnett lives up to his draft slot, we could definitely be better this year. However, the CB issue noted by Rosenthal may not be any better this year — and could be worse. So there are sneaky ways that the results on the field won’t match the perceived quality.

    Cox did have 6.5 sacks — for a 4-3 DT that’s still quite good. Especially when the defense only really had to worry about one of the two DEs last year. And Cox had played in a 3-4 the previous three years, so he had to re-learn some of the 4-3 stuff. If you are focusing on Cox as part of the problem, again, just no.

  41. 41 Tumtum said at 10:59 PM on May 30th, 2017:

    Let me rephrase. When compared to my expectations they were awful. Maybe my memory is even tainted.

    I was sitting around here posting that 40 sacks was setting the bar low. I was very disappointed in their performance on a weekly basis last year. My expectations, in hindsight, were unreasonable. This year I am going to expect more of the same, and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

  42. 42 Media Mike said at 7:37 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Fitting in already.

  43. 43 unhinged said at 7:48 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    It’s that South Florida nightlife. Nolan was out knocking back tall ones w/Tiger, and they drove home separately.

  44. 44 Media Mike said at 7:52 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Must really suck to be too poor to afford a cab.

  45. 45 daveH said at 7:08 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    His driver less Tesla maybe been broken

  46. 46 Tumtum said at 9:08 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Operation corrupt from within has begun.

  47. 47 Media Mike said at 9:19 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I’m just waiting for the Elliot domestic violence suspension to hit.

  48. 48 SteveH said at 7:50 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    It boggles the mind that MSII is skipping anything.

  49. 49 Media Mike said at 7:52 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    I’m going to stick with “he’s trying to get cut now” as the “logic” behind his decision. He, or his agent, might have it in their heads that he’s going to be cut anyway. They can then get him in camp with a team that he’ll make and/or will want him for more than one year.

    But I am galled that he’d think he doesn’t need the work.

  50. 50 wee2424 said at 2:27 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    It is blatant that he is going to be cut regardless. Why not step on the field so you get exposure out to the NFL community regarding your progress. It would basicly be an audition for other clubs.

    This move hurts his stock in the eyes of other franchises. Especially the “football” people.

    I think he is going to be done in the NFL. It seems that is how he wants it, and I don’t imagine many other teams having too much of an interest in his talents or rather lack there of.

  51. 51 Forthebirds said at 10:33 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    His best chance to make another team is to stay off the field.

  52. 52 ChoTime said at 10:45 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    A variation of: “It is best to keep silent and be thought a fool, than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

  53. 53 wee2424 said at 2:18 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    I’m guessing here, but could it be a D. Watkins (he who must not be named) situation to a lesser extent.

    Maybe he just doesn’t love the game enough to keep playing. He knows he is going to be cut, he has robbed all the money there was to be robbed, so in his mind it’s now time to quit. To me that is what makes the most sense. He will not be a saught after FA by any extent, but he is not even attempting to raise his stock. He has to be aware that he is sabotaging himself by doing this. Other clubs are not going to look upon this move by him fondly.

    Or maybe he has an extreme defeatist mentality.

    Has to be one of the two. I can’t think of another scenario.

  54. 54 Forthebirds said at 10:31 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    If he skipped rope, he’d fall all over himself.

  55. 55 Dragon_Eagle said at 9:34 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Improved cornerback play *and* a better offense. We sustain a few more drives and stop having to play catch up all the time, that will give our defensive line more opportunities to just go after the QB. The improvement at WR and Blount make the defense better.

  56. 56 ColorSgt said at 10:20 PM on May 29th, 2017:

    Good point. Having a better offense plays right into this defense hands.

  57. 57 wee2424 said at 2:08 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    Absolutely. It really is the ultimate team game in every sense.

  58. 58 daveH said at 12:09 AM on May 30th, 2017:

    German you haven’t missed anything here .. how was Ibiza

  59. 59 增达网 said at 2:39 AM on May 30th, 2017: