Virtually everything the Eagles touched in 2017 turned to
gold silver. With free agency around the corner and the draft to follow, we look back at the top 10 moves the Eagles made on their path to the Super Bowl. Ranking decided by BGN staff vote.
Missing half the season with injury and then dealing with the ups and downs of both recovering from injury and learning a new team on the fly, Ronald Darby didn’t have his best season, but certainly had his most memorable. He ranks 10th in our Eagles 2017 acquisitions, (actually he was tied for 10th) in part because he missed half the season, and in part because so many new additions had great seasons. Darby was “merely” good. And he was as advertised. With the Bills he was a playmaker, in his two seasons in Buffalo, he had 34 passes defensed in 37 games, the 5th most during that timespan. In 8 games with the Eagles, he had 9 passes defensed and added three interceptions.
But Darby represents something bigger than just on-field play. In a season filled with aggressive moves both on and off the field, the trade for Darby during the preseason was the first indicator that after a busy offseason, the Eagles were taking their game to yet another level.
In the spring, the Eagles weren’t messing around. To improve the worst group of skill position players, they brought in three new starters, instantly reshaping the offense. To address years of turning to stop gaps at cornerback, they drafted two in the top 100. Most teams wouldn’t have been so bold to redo multiple entire positions in one fell swoop, and those that would have been would have stopped once everyone got to camp and let everything play out.
Not the Eagles. Perhaps they sensed early on that this was going to be a special year. Perhaps it was simply that Howie Roseman, the most active trading GM in the NFL, continued to find ways to improve the team. Or maybe they were just fortunate that the Bills decided that getting rid of young starters was a good idea for a rebuild. Whatever the reason, Darby filled multiple needs. He gave the team an instant upgrade at a position of instability, giving them a bonafide starter on the outside to go with Jalen Mills. At 23, he fit in perfectly with the youth movement in the secondary. And with top class speed that his new teammates didn’t have, he filled the need to combat deep threats that had burned the Eagles. Other moves that continued the Eagles front office putting their chips in followed, acquiring Jay Ajayi in a trade and signing 32 year old Will Beatty and 31 year old Dannell Ellerbe instead of dipping into a practice squad or bringing in a young street free agent on what amounted to an extended tryout. It started with Darby.
In 2018 Darby should find the consistency that comes with being with a team for a full year and be even better. In 2017, he was more than just good enough, he was a representation of something bigger.