Who Are The Eagles’ Top-5 Offensive Players?BREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
The 2014 Philadelphia Eagles are in position to make a push deeper into the playoffs than their 2013 counterparts. The 2013 Eagles had remarkable luck with injuries, not losing any of their superstars for extended periods of time. If the Eagles hope to improve upon their 10-6 season a year ago, they will need that same luck. Here is a look at the top five most important offensive players heading into the 2014 season.
5. Evan Mathis: Evan Mathis is arguably the best offensive guard in the game today. At 32 years old, the former third round pick helped hold down the left side of the offensive line with number three on our list. The importance of Mathis cannot be understated. With a bit more help on the reserve offensive line list, there will undoubtedly be a significant drop-off from Mathis to whoever takes his place. Mathis’ biggest strength comes in the run game.
“I have a little more love for run blocking,” says Mathis. “It allows me to unleash on my opponent.”
Mathis was unleashing on his opponents a lot last year and was seen, on multiple occasions, 15 to 20 yards downfield blocking for LeSean McCoy on a running play or DeSean Jackson on a screen. The offensive line, as a whole, helped McCoy eclipse the Eagles rushing record (game and season) and take home the rushing title.
4. Jeremy Maclin: Jeremy Maclin is coming off an ACL injury and is immediately stepping into the number one receiver role left void by DeSean Jackson’s release. The Eagles gave Maclin a one-year-prove-it contract to bring him back into the mix.
“I don’t really see it as a one-year deal though,” said Maclin.
Maclin elaborated and told the media that he thought something more long term would get done in-season. With Riley Cooper returning and the Eagles drafting Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff while also adding Darren Sproles in free agency, Maclin’s importance may be overlooked. However, If Maclin is unable to return to previous, or better, form in 2014, the Eagles could be in trouble with the outside passing game.
3. Jason Peters: Jason Peters is another offensive lineman on the Eagles that you could argue is the best in the league. Linebacker Emmanuel Acho said, after Jason Peters’ five-year contract extension in February, “[Peters] can send you from linebacker to deep safety in one punch.”
Peters was dominant on the offensive line in 2013. In addition to protecting Nick Foles’ blindside, he also helped pave the way for 1,607-yard rusher LeSean McCoy’s historical season. Losing the 32-year-old to injury would likely cause a shuffling of the offensive line, something that has never worked in the Eagles’ favor in years past. Peters is the most important non-skill position player on this roster.
2. LeSean McCoy: Shady made headlines a few weeks ago when he stated that he was the best running back in the league. Hands down. And he is. When looking at body of work Adrian Peterson may have the edge over him but taking the 2013 season into account and the age a physical condition heading into 2014, there is no doubt that Shady is the league’s best running back. So why is he only the second most important?
The Eagles have depth. While there is no replacement to McCoy, the Eagles do have viable options who can play running back behind him. Offseason acquisition Darren Sproles can take carries from McCoy, who has already said that Sproles will be a big help for him, to give him breaks during games. Chris Polk averaged nearly nine yards per carry (on only 11 carries, mind you) but was able to punch it into the endzone three times. Matthew Tucker is another name to watch during training camp and Chip Kelly seems to love him.
The loss of the rushing title winner would devastate the Eagles’ offensive attack. However, his loss would not hamper the Eagles as much as number one on this list.
1. Nick Foles: Nick Foles lit up stat sheets all season in 2013. With 27 passing touchdowns (30 total) and just two interceptions, Foles set the record for the highest touchdown-interception ratio in NFL history. On November 3rd, 2013, he also tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in a single game against the Oakland Raiders.
The newly-wed Foles will have a difficult time repeating the statistics that he accumulated last year but there is no doubt that his play will have the biggest impact on how successful the Eagles are. He’s the quarterback.
The Eagles added Mark Sanchez in the offseason and have Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne battling it out for third QB but none of them are close to the quarterback that Nick Foles has proven to be in his 16 games as an NFL starter. Six of those starts came in his rookie season and resulted in a 1-5 record. The remaining ten of those games in 2013 resulted in an 8-2 record.
Taking only his 16 starts into account, Nick Foles has accumulated 4,125 yards on a completion percentage of 62 percent with 29 passing touchdowns (four rushing TDs)and only six interceptions. That’s a reachable and respectable line for the quarterback, and most important Philadelphia Eagle, entering his third season in the league.
Follow Brenden on Twitter @brendenp2011.
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