More than any other NFL team except the Chiefs, the Eagles are a playoff-bound freight train. At 11-1, they don’t just have more wins than anyone else. They also have their best start since 2004 when they went 13-1 before making a Super Bowl bid. This means they are off to an even better start than they were in 2017 when they went 10-1, lost their second game and won their first Lombardi Trophy.
With that in mind, it’s fair to ask: are the 2022 Eagles really better than their title-winning predecessors? Of course, we don’t mean it literally; until they erect their own trophy, they yield. But what about talent? Are the current Birds even more dangerous, with an even more balanced roster? Let’s go over the main positions and decide:
2017: Carson Wentz/Nick Fowles
2022: Jalen Hurts
Before he fell with a torn ACL, Wentz was a legitimate MVP candidate, doing well as a play-extender. Fowles, meanwhile, became a historic replacement after injury, lacking Wentz’s athleticism but offering traction in the bottom of the field. And yet Hurts, remarkably, has been even better so far, taking the best qualities from the games of each predecessor. One of the toughest and most reliable runners in this position, his jumping as a passer this year cannot be overstated; he delivers the ball efficiently and accurately at every level. Only Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes has been a more enduring example of game composure.
2017: Jay Adjayi, LeGarrett Blount, Corey Clement
2022: Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott
Ajayi and Blount were a combination of lightning and thunder: the former excelled in space and Blount set the tone with his thunderous size, while Clement chipped in as a sassy pass catcher. Meanwhile, in 2022, Sanders rose to prominence, placing among the league leaders in 20+ yard carries. It’s really a toss-up here; The 2017 division was more collective, but lagging behind this year’s line, and paired with the Hurts, Sanders may have been more slippery overall.
2017: Elshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agolor, Mac Hollins
2022: AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Kes Watkins, Zach Pascal
Geoffrey represented a massive worldwide renewal, though his numbers were not insipid; his strength as a ball receiver allowed Torrey Smith to play a serious threat, and Agolor enjoyed a breakthrough as a spirited safety valve. But there’s no denying the stellar power of the 2022 group: Brown is an alpha male in his prime, combining a monstrous physique with the sap of the field; DeVonta Smith is a first-class runner whose slender build does not match his fighting qualities; and Watkins is a good speed option.
2017: Zak Ertz, Brent Selek, Trey Burton
2022: Dallas Godert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra
An all-time eagle, Ertz was the quarterback’s best friend, always winning on key downs with near-window catches. Selek, once an unofficial receiver himself, was mostly a blocker as a reserve, but Burton also shone in some big moments. Gedert is a smoother athlete than all of them, with Ertz-level impact potential when he’s healthy, but with part of his 2022 year wiped out by injury, the verdict is simpler.
2017: Jason Peters/Halapouliwaati Waitai (LT), Stefan Wisniewski (LG), Jason Kelsey (C), Brandon Brooks (RG), Lane Johnson (RT)
2022: Jordan Mailata (LT), Isaac Seumalo (LG), Jason Kelsey (C), Landon Dickerson (RG), Lane Johnson (RT)
It’s one of the biggest testimonials that GM Howie Roseman’s roster is building, with the Eagles consistently winning in the trenches. Peters was already past his Hall of Fame heyday before an injury forced Waitai into action, but the Kelsey-Brooks-Johnson trio on the right side were nearly unbeatable in 2017, paving the way for Wentz and Foles to dominate. Today, Mailata is a more gifted left tackle, while Kelsey and Johnson remain in All-Pro form, especially on the ground.
2017: Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Bo Allen
2022: Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Linval Joseph, Ndamukong Su
Cox was one of the most destructive insiders in the game during the title run, with Jernigan making a career as his partner; the two add up to eight sacks, 14 loss tackles and 25 QBs. The former is now a shell of his former self, better suited to the rotation, but Hargrave has filled the gap by becoming one of the NFL’s best tackles. Davis and Joseph, meanwhile, offer giant run protection if they can stay on the field. A late addition and former stallion, Suh is just a bonus rotation.
2017: Brandon Graham, Winnie Curry, Chris Long, Derek Barnett
2022: Haason Reddick, Josh Sweet, Brandon Graham, Robert Quinn
While there was no real home run in the 2017 rotation, the ageless duo of Graham and Long proved especially effective in the clutch, with the latter excelling as a master of forced fumbles. Barnett was also a much more promising number 4 than Quinn. But this year there is a bit more firepower; Reddick was a frequent QB killer as a standup blitzer, while Sweet and Graham teamed up to form the equivalent of a starting All-Pro with underrated power and perseverance.
2017: Nigel Bradham, Michael Kendricks/Jordan Hicks
2022: TJ Edwards, Keezir White, Nakobi Dean
Edwards is a stubborn tackling machine, and both White and Dean offer sporting advantages. But the current “D” Eagles work mostly because of what happens on the front and back. Bradham, on the other hand, brought a lot of physicality and personality to the champion “bend but don’t break” group. Hicks was instinctive before leaving, and Kendricks, though limited in use, did his job in a sort of off-bench resurgence.
2017: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasool Douglas
2022: Darius Slay, James Bradbury, Avonte Maddox, Josiah Scott
Both Darby and Mills were prone to throwing deep balls, but the former had excellent game speed and the latter had unmatched confidence, playing bigger than his height suggested. Robinson was the X Factor, leading the club’s selection as an unexpected slots star. However, Slay and Bradberry are a real trip duo; they are not elite hawks and differ in personality – Slay is a colorful character, Bradberry is a quiet, hidden presence – but both are excellent in agility with accurate throws.
2017: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham
2022: CJ Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps, Reed Blankenship
Jenkins was one of the top contributors to the title run, not only because of his vocal abilities and leadership skills, but also because of his flexible versatility; in a single series, he went from running back to cornerman and center fielder, doing all his jobs well. McLeod was a strong helper, and Graham was comfortable in the role of deep cover. Gardner-Johnson, following in Jenkins’ footsteps as a saint turned eagle, was one of the NFL’s best players when he was healthy. But aside, he doesn’t have the game experience to replace him.
2017: Jake Elliott (K), Donny Jones (P), Kenjon Barner (KR/PR)
2022: Jake Elliott (K), Arren Siposs (P), Britain Covey (KR/PR)
Elliot remains one of the best kickers in the NFL, but in 2017 as a rookie, he had a small spark of fortune in his leg when he went 5-of-6 for 50+ yards, including a game-winning 61 yards. Meanwhile, Jones, a longtime veteran, was arguably more consistent than Siposs, averaging 45.3 yards per shot while landing 21 kicks within the opponent’s 20-yard line.
2017: Doug Pederson (HC), Frank Reich (OK), Jim Schwartz (DC)
2022: Nick Sirianni (HK), Shane Steichen (OK), Jonathan Gannon (DC)
Sirianni brings the necessary Philadelphia spunk to the sidelines, and he and Steichen…