How much does experience matter when it comes to playing in the Super Bowl? The Eagles hope the answer is “not much.”
Only eight Eagles on the team’s full roster — including those on injured reserve and the practice squad — have Super Bowl experience.
Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, with Blount taking home another championship in 2014 with the Pats. Torrey Smith, Corey Graham and Dannell Ellerbe all won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 and Malcolm Jenkins won in 2009 with the Saints.
Chris Maragos, who is currently injured, won with Seattle in 2013, while Will Beatty, who has played in just one game with the Eagles, was on the Giants roster in 2011 despite being injured and not playing in the Super Bowl win over New England. Eight players, nine Super Bowls.
The Patriots boast 41 players that have been to a Super Bowl. Led by Tom Brady’s previous seven appearances, the Pats players combine for 73 Super Bowls, and all but two were with the Patriots.
To put the overall inexperience of the Eagles into greater perspective, we need not look much further than the comparison of quarterbacks.
Nick Foles has played incredibly well this postseason, and in his three playoff games he’s completed 75 percent of his passes, with five touchdowns and no interceptions. In his brief but successful playoff tenure, Foles has a quarterback rating of 116.4. He is 2-1 all time in the playoffs, with the Super Bowl marking his fourth career postseason start.
Brady has a passer rating of just 90.1 in the playoffs, and in his postseason career he’s thrown 31 interceptions in 36 games.
Advantage Foles. Or…maybe not.
Brady has more Super Bowl MVP awards than Foles has playoff starts. And while the Eagles have said they plan to lean on the experience of those who have been there before, the Patriots need only to look at the next locker over. Thirty-three players on the active roster, and 38 overall, were on last year’s Super Bowl championship team, while 18 players on the Patriots have been to multiple Super Bowls.
Eagles players with Super Bowl experience
- Corey Graham – 2012, Baltimore
- Chris Long – 2016, New England
- Malcolm Jenkins – 2009, New Orleans
- Will Beatty – 2011, Giants (injured)
- Dannell Ellerbe – 2012, Baltimore
- Chris Maragos – 2013, Seattle
- LeGarrette Blount – 2014, 2016, New England
- Torrey Smith – 2012, Baltimore
The disparity of experience is even more glaring when looking at the coaching staffs.
The Eagles have five coaches with Super Bowl experience. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was with Tennessee when they lost a heartbreaker to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV. Linebackers coach Ken Flajole was with Carolina when they lost to New England in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Defensive backs coach Cory Undlin was with Denver when they lost to Seattle in Super Bowl XLVIII and with the Patriots when they beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
As players, both Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich have Super Bowl experience. Pederson was on the Packers in 1996 and 1997, backing up Brett Favre as the Packers won one and lost another Super Bowl. Reich was with Buffalo for their run of four-straight Super Bowl losses, playing the bulk of the loss to Dallas in Super Bowl XXVII.
The Patriots have just one coach who played in a Super Bowl: Ray Ventrone, who played collegiately at Villanova, was on the special teams unit for the Patriots when they lost Super Bowl XLII to the Giants. But New England has 16 coaches who have Super Bowl coaching experience, led by Belichick, who will be coaching in his 11th this year.
As a staff, the Eagles have 10 Super Bowls of experience. The Patriots have 64.
Experience is nothing new for a Bill Belichick coached team. While the Eagles and Patriots both have the same number of players over the age of 30 on the active roster — 11 for each team — the Patriots have an additional 30 players on the current active roster listed between 25 and 29 years of age. The Eagles have just 22 players in that age range. Rounding out the active roster, the Eagles have 20 players age 24 or under, while the Patriots have just 12.
Super Bowl by age – active rosters
Players over 35
- Eagles: 1
- Patriots: 2
- Eagles: 10
- Patriots: 9
- Eagles: 22
- Patriots: 30
- Eagles: 20
- Patriots 12
The overall level of NFL experience between the two teams is actually rather comparable. Both have the same number of players on the active roster with five or more years in the league — the Patriots have a few more on the overall roster, that includes those on injured reserve — but the Eagles have 18 players with two or fewer years of experience. That counts nine rookies, with at least four expected to play in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots have just four rookies on the active roster, none huge contributors, and 10 players with two or fewer seasons of experience.
None of this is necessarily bad for the Eagles. There’s nothing to say that a team with more experience is guaranteed to win. In fact, over the last 20 years teams that have gone to back-to-back Super Bowls are just 2-2 in the second attempt. Of course, the last team to successfully win back-to-back titles was the Patriots. And they won their second over the Eagles — something nobody on this year’s Birds team wants to experience again.