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Ranking the Eagles’ best and worst players halfway through 2018

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There are some surprises in this list

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Bye Weekers.

The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t playing a game this Sunday, and we’re also conveniently situated at the halfway point of the 2018 season. So it’s a perfect time to do some mid-year evaluations. The guys at BGN Radio already tackled the topic on-air, but here, I wanted to take a different, slightly looser approach to judging which Birds did the best through eight games of the team’s title defense.

If you’re around here during the season, you may be familiar with the day-after, 60-second recaps I’ve been doing each week — short-and-sweet summaries of every Eagles game, with three Eagles MVPs named after each Sunday.

Just for the fun of it, and also because we’re at the midway point, I thought it’d be interesting to review all eight of the 60-second recaps thus far and see which Eagles players were mentioned the most within them. This is an entirely subjective and unscientific way of identifying the team’s best and worst players of 2018 at mid-season, but it at least offers a picture of which players have seemingly been most deserving of praise or criticism on a week-to-week basis.

So here’s what I’ve done:

  • In reviewing all eight game recaps, I’ve given a player one (1) “point” for every “positive” mention of something they did (like a big catch or sack) and subtracted one (1) point for every “negative” mention (like a fumble or poor blocking).
  • If a player was named one of the three Eagles MVPs from that week, they were given an additional four (4) points. (So, for example, if Carson Wentz gets a point for a positive mention but also was named MVP for the week, he finishes with five points for that game.)

Is this grading system arbitrary? No. It’s exceedingly arbitrary, because not only am I awarding points how I see fit; I’m also awarding points based off recaps I wrote. There are also some obvious pitfalls: Offensive linemen, by nature of their position, are underrepresented and get mentioned mostly if they fail; and a player having one MVP performance can misconstrue their value over an eight-game sample size.

So was this a waste of time? Maybe. But it was also kind of fun. And in a world where we talk stats and analytics and all that stuff all the time, it’s also interesting just to see how one much — or how little — one observer has noticed Eagles players over the course of the year.

Without further ado, with player mentions gathered from our eight 60-second recaps, I present the Positive Prominence Scale for Eagles halfway through 2018:

Note: Total number of positive mentions in parentheses. Asterisks indicate weekly MVP honors.

  1. QB Carson Wentz (24)****
  2. TE Zach Ertz (22)****
  3. WR Alshon Jeffery (15)***
  4. DT Fletcher Cox (11)**
  5. RB Wendell Smallwood (7)*
  6. S Malcolm Jenkins (6)*
  7. WR Nelson Agholor (6)*
  8. DE Chris Long (6)*
  9. WR Jordan Matthews (6)*
  10. S Avonte Maddox (6)*
  11. MLB Jordan Hicks (5)*
  12. DE Derek Barnett (5)*
  13. CB Ronald Darby (4)*
  14. DE Brandon Graham (4)*
  15. DE Michael Bennett (3)
  16. RB Corey Clement (3)
  17. TE Dallas Goedert (3)
  18. WR DeAndre Carter (2)
  19. RB Josh Adams (2)
  20. CB Rasul Douglas (1)
  21. RB Darren Sproles (1)
  22. RB Jay Ajayi (1)
  23. K Jake Elliott (1)
  24. QB Nick Foles (1)
  25. P Cameron Johnston (1)
  26. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (1)
  27. OT Lane Johnson (-1)
  28. CB Jalen Mills (-2)

Some personal takeaways:

  • The top four really do seem about right to me. I think you could make an argument Ertz has been even better than Wentz in terms of consistency, but aside from Carson’s last-second drive against Carolina, he’s been pretty darn good.
  • One thing I’d change, if I could: Graham had an MVP to his name from the Vikings game, which boosted him above Bennett, but I’d say the latter has probably done a little more.
  • I really like the Darby positioning. He seems right where he belongs — not overly dominant but also not quite as horrendous as people were making him out to be at one point.
  • I anticipate that Smallwood’s rank will be picked apart the most. One thing I guess I’d say: It’s almost as if his usage has resulted in more positive mention than his actual talent, if that makes any sense. Still, he has had quite a role thus far.