ESPN’s Bill Barnwell released his list of 50 most fascinating people in the NFL for the 2018 season, and two members of the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles organization were named: Sidney Jones and Doug Pederson.
The people that Barnwell lists span from players to coaches, and even to front offices. It’s not a list of the best or most important people in the NFL this season, but rather a collection of names that will garner some of the most headlines.
Barnwell split up his list into “several unordered groups”.
18. Sidney Jones, CB, Eagles
Jones fell into Group II: The Rookies (or Almost Rookies) at No. 18. With Patrick Robinson filling such a wide role for the Eagles last season, and him now back with the Saints, there are some big shoes to fill in the starting lineup.
“Enter Jones, who tore his Achilles and fell to the Eagles in the middle of the second round in last year’s draft. Jones essentially took 2017 as a redshirt year, but with Robinson leaving, the Washington product will be taking over in the lineup as Philadelphia’s slot cornerback. The Eagles can still survive if Jones struggles, but a successful sophomore campaign from Jones would reinforce Philadelphia’s current plan under Howie Roseman. If they can get cornerbacks like Jones to produce on the cheap, they can continue to spend money at the line of scrimmage and lock up weapons for Wentz. If they can’t, you can take a look at the Seahawks roster for what happens when you try to invest everywhere.”
Every indication from the coaches during training camp was that Jones had really matured heading into his second season, and despite his injury, was more confident and better understood what the team is doing schematically.
BGN’s own Michael Kist recently had a breakdown on why Jones is living up to the hype so far this summer.
37. Doug Pederson, coach, Eagles
The team’s head coach made the list at No. 37 with a spot among Group V: The Breakout Stars of 2017 (and 2018). Despite losing quite a few members of his coaching staff following the Super Bowl win, Pederson still has a leg up over some other teams in the league, and Barnwell doesn’t expect many to try and keep up.
While other teams can pilfer his staff, Pederson’s penchant for being aggressive — particularly in fourth-down situations — isn’t something many other head coaches would (or could) adapt.
“Pederson has a competitive advantage; to keep that advantage up, he might want to lean further into those tendencies. The Philadelphia offense was a mess with Nick Foles before Pederson began to focus more on RPOs; with Pederson more open-minded about borrowing college concepts than most other coaches, he has the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve by mixing in more of them for both Foles and Carson Wentz this season. And while Wentz isn’t likely to run the ball as frequently on fourth downs after his knee injury, the Eagles should stay ahead of the pack on fourth down by threatening teams with their offense.”
We are heading into Pederson’s third year as a head coach, and with the significant leap he made from 2016 to 2017, it’ll be exciting to see how much he and his team have improved in 2018, as well.