The Eagles entered the season as a team with Super Bowl aspirations (because they had just won the Super Bowl), which means relying on veterans. Through mostly injury but also due to a few performance issues, they’re now a playoff contender playing their fair share of young players.
There are 25 players aged 25 or younger on the active roster, and most of them are regular players.
Carson Wentz, duh. Nelson Agholor and Isaac Seumalo are starters, while Josh Adams has been a good find in undrafted free agency. Avonte Maddox looks like a good player, and we probably don’t know that if not for the injuries to the rest of the secondary. Sidney Jones can’t stay healthy, but when he’s able to get on the field, he’s on the field.
The better the offense does, the more playing time Jake Elliott gets. Kamu Grugier-Hill is the first linebacker off the bench, starting for Jordan Hicks and a “starter” when they’re actually in a 4-3. Rasul Douglas has started five of the last six games. Cre’Von LeBlanc has also been thrust into a starting role due to injury.
After initially losing playing time to Golden Tate, Dallas Goedert has been worked into the offense more and more the last few weeks. There is no downside to continuing to do so.
After seeing just 15 snaps in his previous six games, Nate Gerry has played 93 in his last four with Jordan Hicks out. Tre Sullivan has played at least 30% of snaps in five of the past six games.
Wendell Smallwood has appeared in 35 games. More playing time isn’t going to unearth any untapped potential. Similarly, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has started 20 games in three seasons and appeared in 16 more. We know what he is, though if the Eagles are out of the playoffs in Week 17 it would make sense to let Lane Johnson start the first series then spend the rest of the game on the bench where he can’t get hurt.
De’Vante Bausby has played 60, 0, 61, and 1 snap in the last four games. Chandon Sullivan has a similar yoyo of playing time, having started against the Giants, getting hurt in that game, then in his return played 4 snaps on special teams against the Rams. The Eagles secondary is a mess of injuries, but the upside is that it’s getting guys playing time.
Daeshon Hall played a majority of special teams snaps in his Eagles debut, while B.J. Bello played 45% in his debut on Sunday, and Boston Scott was just added but hasn’t dressed. Matt Pryor hasn’t dressed all year. Deiondre’ Hall has been a regular special teams player. Bruce Hector has bounced between the active roster and practice squad, but he’s played 63 snaps in his last four games.
If the Eagles are eliminated from the playoff picture by next week, Nate Sudfeld should start in Week 17. There’s no upside to playing Foles in a meaningless game, while there is value in getting Sudfeld experience, as low value as a Week 17 game may be. That Shelton Gibson can’t get on the field this year is all you need to know.
This wasn’t the season the Eagles planned for, needing to win out and some help to make the playoffs. But at least they’re having it with young players getting major playing time in important games. That should pay dividends next year.