A lot of Eagles fans wanted T.J. Ward to be signed so he could be the enforcer the team has lacked since Brian Dawkins left following the 2008 season. Other fans wanted Jairus Byrd to be the safety the team went after. He would be the playmaker the team has lacked since...Brian Dawkins left following the 2008 season. (Sidenote - Brian Dawkins was pretty darn good.)
Instead, the Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins. He didn't have great stats. He didn't get good numbers from Pro Football Focus. What were the Eagles thinking? They saw a player who they thought would be an ideal fit, as a player and leader. Jenkins has been outstanding in both areas. He wasn't the big name player, but he was the right player.
The Eagles made a lot of smart moves this offseason and the new players are a big reason the team is 3-0. Let's stick with Jenkins for a minute. Last season the Eagles used three staring players at safety. Nate Allen, Patrick Chung and Earl Wolff combined for two interceptions in 2013. Jenkins has two interceptions in the last two weeks. Both picks came in the fourth quarter and set up key scoring drives.
The Eagles traded a 5th round pick for Darren Sproles and he has been a great player. His 49-yard touchdown run sparked the Eagles in the season opener. Sproles had a touchdown run and a pair of long pass plays to help the team beat the Colts in Indy. Sproles was somewhat quiet last week, but still had a good punt return and key reception. He would probably be the team's MVP to this point.
Some moves involve a bit of luck. Cody Parkey has only been an Eagle for a month, but he already is beloved by the fans and has established himself as a good kicker. He hit the game-winning field goal against the Colts. Parkey hit a 51-yard field goal last week that proved to be the difference in the game. He has consistently gotten touchbacks with his kickoffs (14 on 21 attempts), which offers a huge boost to the coverage units. The kickoffs that do come out are often deep in the end zone and easier to cover.
Parkey is the rookie making the most impact, even though he wasn't drafted or even signed by the team. The Eagles dealt for him in late August. The draft pick who is doing the most is receiver Jordan Matthews. He primarily plays the slot and has had some growing pains as he adjusts to the NFL. He had his breakout game last week against the Skins.
Matthews caught eight passes, two of them for touchdowns. To put that in perspective, think back to his predecessor, Jason Avant. He had just two touchdowns in his final 30 games as an Eagle. Matthews matched that total in the third game of his NFL career.
Rookie Trey Burton has helped on special teams, with both blocking and coverage. Beau Allen is a backup on defense.
First round pick Marcus Smith is off to a slow start. He didn't play in the first two weeks, but did get on the field last week. He played inside linebacker in certain passing situations. That let him take advantage of both his cover skills and pass rushing ability.
Free agents David Molk and Andrew Gardner were free agents the team added off the sreets. Both have or will spend time in the starting lineup. Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman are special teams players the team added to help the units with blocking and coverage. The Eagles are better at both returning kicks and covering them. Maragos has been especially good.
Nolan Carroll has played on special teams and defense, but has yet to shine the way he did this summer at Training Camp. He could end up playing some corner if starter Bradley Fletcher continues to be up and down.
Some of the offseason moves were celebrated, while others were virtually ignored. Everyone is paying attention now. The Eagles wouldn't be 3-0 without the contributions of the players that were added over the course of the offseason.