Anyone who follows sports knows there’s one great truth in this industry: Power rankings are stupid.
Sure, nearly every site puts out weekly power rankings like they are some kind of sports economy that actually matters. The Eagles have jumped up five spots in the ESPN power rankings this week. Let’s discuss how right and or wrong their experts are! Rinse. Repeat.
Power rankings are everywhere. Hell, we started one in our Pittsburgh site that lists a ton of random things in the city and people love it. We’ve even kicked around the idea of doing a power ranking of all the power rankings. Heck, we’ve even done power rankings here on this site: See, and see?
Power rankings. They’re stupid but everybody does them, because everybody reads them. So fuck it, let’s power rank some Eagles.
Week 5 Eagles Power Rankings
Yes, we’re doing this. And we have one rule: We’re splitting the list in two. First, we’ll pick the special teams. Then we rank the five most important (powerful) offensive players in order from fifth most important (powery) to most important (super powery) and then we’ll do the same on defense to get to 11. Why 11? Because that’s how many people are on the football field. Let’s power up, or something.
1. Jake Elliott
All due respect to Donnie Jones, but he’s only punted 14 times this season. Jake Elliott is the most popular player on the team not named Carson or Wentz. He’s missed two kicks, but gosh the one he hit to beat the Giants is going to get him free drinks for a long time in this town.
Also receiving votes: Jones, who is also the holder, Long snapper Rick Lovato, Darren Sproles (RIP).
Look, Fletcher Cox is the best player on the Eagles defense, but he’s been injured, and has only been on the field for 104 defensive snaps this season, which is just below 43 percent of the time. Besides, this isn’t about best. This is a power ranking. Methodology be damned.
5. Jordan Hicks
When Hicks went out in the second half against the Giants the defense nearly fell apart. He’s a mainstay at linebacker, the heart of the defense and he’s third on the team in tackles through four games. He had nine tackles last week — eight solo — and even with missing time to injury, only three players on the defense have been on the field more, and it’s hard to say any have been better.
4. Mychal Kendricks
Kendricks has been dealing with trade rumors for nearly a full year. It was kind of incredible he wasn’t dealt in the offseason, but he had such a good preseason the Eagles elected to keep him. He’s not always on the field — he’s played less than 48 percent of the defensive snaps and only 29 percent of special teams snaps — but he’s constantly around the ball, recording 18 tackles, a sack and three passes defended, including one that led to a key interception.
3. Jalen Mills
Mills has been targeted more than any other corner in the NFL. That’s why he leads the Eagles in tackles. But he also has one of the team’s three interceptions and a team-best five passes defended. He’s also played every single down on defense — which, given the injury issues in the Eagles’ secondary, is saying something. He’s by no means a lockdown corner, but he’s been a solid contributor so far this season at a position of primary need.
2. Brandon Graham
Tim Jernigan is having a great year as a defensive tackle and Derek Barnett is making people realize why the Eagles took him in the first round. But Graham is a monster. It’s always funny to look at Twitter reaction to Graham because it makes you really wonder how much people know about football when they look at a box score and see Graham has only one tackle and think that means he’s bad. Yes, stats are important, but for a guy like Graham, taking on a double team to allow another defensive lineman to get a one-on-one matchup might be just as valuable. Earning a penalty against the opponent is often as good as a sack.
So, yeah, spend some time watching Graham on Sundays. Frankly, the whole defensive line. They could honestly all go here. With injuries all over the secondary this season, that front four has been key. They should all be on this list.
1. Malcolm Jenkins
He’s tops on the list. He’s played all 242 snaps on defense, plus 38 percent of the snaps on special teams. He’s been the veteran leader this defense needs, both on the field and in the locker room. The Eagles are better when he’s on the field. The city is better that he’s here.
5. LeGarrette Blount
How about this stat: Blount has 42 carries through four games for 249 yards, an average of 5.9 yards per carry. That’s wholly skewed by his 68-yard run last week, but over the last two weeks Blount has 203 yards rushing on 28 carries. Finally he’s getting the touches he needs to contribute and with him and Wendell Smallwood in the backfield actually getting touches, the Eagles offense has balance for perhaps the first time in the Doug Pederson era.
4. Brandon Brooks
Left guard has been a mess this year, but Brooks has been as solid as it gets on the right side. He’s one of only four players on offense to take every snap so far this year.
3. Zach Ertz
He’s the Eagles’ best receiver this season and he’s finally starting to truly live up to his expectations. He has 26 catches this year — nine more than any other player, and he’s proven to be Carson Wentz’s security blanket on offense.
2. Carson Wentz
Wentz had a lot to prove this season and so far through four games he’s done a lot to do just that. He’s only completed 60.5 percent of his passes — which, given how much he throws, isn’t great. But he has six touchdowns to two interceptions and he’s already tossed for more than 1,000 yards.
The best thing about Wentz is how he’s learned to manage a game. He knows when to run with the ball more this year, not forcing balls he doesn’t have to. He knows when to check to a run, even on third down when the defense is stacked against the pass. He knows how to lead the team down the field for a game winning and/or game sealing drive. He’s a legit NFL quarterback, and so far this year fans should be very pleased with his overall play.
1. Lane Johnson
— Aaron Kasinitz (@AaronKazreports) October 3, 2017
Why is Johnson atop the list instead of Wentz? The Eagles with Lane Johnson on the field the last two seasons: 8-2.
The Eagles without Lane Johnson on the field the last two seasons: 2-8.