Now that we’ve had a conversation about the Eagles’ most underrated player, the logical next step is to address the following question: Who is the Eagles’ most overrated player?
I considered going with Greg Ward here. I think people mistake him not being an abject disaster, unlike some other Eagles receivers, for him being legitimately good. Ward is properly rated as a fourth or fifth wide receiver but ideally shouldn’t be a starter. He ranked 110th out of 112 wide receivers in yards per route run last year. It’s very nice that he can actually catch the football (not to be taken for granted, as we’ve come to learn) but he’s just not particularly big or fast or dynamic out there.
But I’m actually going to go with Miles Sanders as my pick. By no means am I “out” on the Eagles’ third-year running back. I just think the perception of him tends to be greater than the reality. Sanders was an explosive runner last season with 5.6 yards per carry. But his struggles as a pass catcher and pass protector were troubling. Sanders’ fumble rate (1 for every 48 touches) was the worst in the league among qualified running backs. Sanders admitted his struggles after the season so there’s reason to believe the 24-year-old will be working hard to bounce back.
(Side note: There are those — including Wikipedia editors — who claim Sanders is a Pro Bowl running back. False. He made the virtual Pro Bowl last season via the “Madden 21 Video Game Numbers Challenge.” As far as I know, the Eagles did not add a portrait of Sanders to their wall of Pro Bowl players inside the NovaCare Complex, so they don’t even consider him a real selection. Pro Football Reference also does not recognize Sanders as a Pro Bowler.)
This was an easy pick for me: Darius Slay.
Before going any further, I feel the need to add a disclaimer here. “Overrated” does NOT necessarily mean “bad.” I am NOT saying Slay sucks. I am saying I’m not quite sure he’s as good as he’s rated to be.
There are those who believe Slay is an elite cornerback. The Eagles chiefly among them considering they rewarded him with a contract that made him the highest-paid player at his position on an annual basis back in March 2020. (New deals elsewhere in the league have since pushed his average salary down to fourth-highest.) Slay also finished as the league’s ninth-best cornerback in a recent poll of league executives, coaches, scouts, and players conducted by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Admittedly, Slay prevented the 2020 Eagles from being absolutely murdered by No. 1 wide receivers on a weekly basis like the 2019 Eagles were. But I’m missing how he was anything resembling an elite corner last year. We all saw how D.K. Metcalf and Davante Adams ate his lunch. Slay finished his first season in Philly with just one interception, six passes defensed, and a 111.9 passer rating allowed when targeted. He certainly didn’t do anything to transform the team’s pass defense, which actually ranked worse in 2020 than it did in 2019 (in terms of both DVOA and opponent yards per pass attempt).
And it’s not just like it was “one down year.” Pro Football Focus had Slay graded 64th out of 84 corners in 2019 before finishing 42nd out of 80 in 2020. Perhaps Jonathan Gannon, who helped revive Xavier Rhodes’ career, can get Slay back on track. But it’s not like cornerbacks age gracefully and Slay turns 31 in January.
The cost Howie Roseman paid to acquire Slay was a record-breaking contract AND two draft picks. Until Slay proves to be a meaningful difference-maker for Philly, hard not to view him as overrated.
Going to keep this one short since I’m sure there will be unanimous agreement: Nick Foles.
“Wait, what. Nick Foles?!”
Look, BDN is properly rated as a legendary figure in franchise history. The Eagles’ only Super Bowl MVP! We’ll all love him for eternity.
But the idea of him as a long-term franchise quarterback? He was overrated in that capacity. His shortcomings elsewhere — leading him to get benched for the likes of Mitchell Trubisky, Gardner Minshew, and Case Keenum — have proven as much.
“But he just plays better in Philly!”
He sure has. And that’s why he’s forever a hero in this city! But there were also legitimate reasons the Eagles showed him the door twice.
Sound off with your own picks with the following suggested format and/or roast me for mine in the comments!
MOST OVERRATED NFC EAST PLAYERS
For even more “overrated” conversation, check out this recent episode of the NFC East Mixtape podcast that I record weekly with RJ Ochoa from Blogging The Boys. Spoiler alert: he picked JASON KELCE as the Eagles’ most overrated offensive player. Smh.
MOST OVERRATED NFL PLAYERS
Rob “Stats” Guerrera and I discussed the most overrated players in the entire NFL on last week’s edition of The ODDcast on The SB Nation NFL Show:
We also had some overflow discussion about the most overrated NFL head coach, food, band, movie, and TV show in this week’s episode. Listen just so you can tell me how wrong I am: