The Eagles Have No Flaws, but Should They Be NFL's Super Bowl Favorite?

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterJuly 25, 2019

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in action at the NFL football team's practice facility in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

The Team with No Flaws quietly reported to training camp Wednesday.

There was no drama. No holdouts. No major injury news. No press conferences (they start Thursday). No cornerbacks arriving in armored cars heralded by hype men with bullhorns.

In fact, there wasn't much hype at all.

Oh sure, some are picking the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East and be part of the scrum competing for the Super Bowl. And there's a little Carson Wentz MVP chatter. But you can hear lawn equipment humming and trucks backing up in the above video of Eagles players reporting to team headquarters. When it comes to start-of-camp sizzle, this is a team on the back burner.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl two years ago. They survived an injury plague to reach the divisional round of the playoffs last season. They enjoyed a quietly spectacular offseason by addressing needs, adding new faces, getting healthy and locking Wentz into a long-term contract before the Dak Prescott-Jared Goff rush.

But the Eagles lack the Next Big Thing wattage of the Browns, the Saints' "this time it's personal" grudge against the league, the Bears' chest-thumping defense, the Chiefs' explosive offense or the noblesse oblige of the Patriots. That makes them just another playoff contender among many.

Overlooking the Team with No Flaws, however, would be a huge mistake.

Good luck finding a real weakness on the Eagles roster.It's rock-solid from top to bottom and back to front in a way no other team (no, not even the Patriots) can boast. Let's break things down:

   

Quarterback: Yes, Wentz failed to finish the last two seasons due to injuries. And no, Nick Foles isn't waiting by the bullpen phone anymore. But if you claim there's a young quarterback besides Pat Mahomes you would rather have on your team right now, you are just being a homer. 

   

Running back: A major weakness last year when multiple injuries forced the team to rely on undrafted rookie Josh Adams and third-year backup Wendell Smallwood. This year, former Bears Pro Bowler Jordan Howard will battle second-round pick Miles Sanders for carries, backed up by Darren Sproles, who's returning for his 150th year in the NFL. (15th, actually).

   

Wide receiver: Another injury-plagued unit in 2018. Alshon Jeffery and slot specialist Nelson Agholor are now joined by returning deep threat DeSean Jackson and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a sleeper favorite of the draft beatniks.

   

Tight end: Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. 'Nuff said.

Tight end Zach Ertz registered a career-high 1,163 yards receiving last season and scored eight touchdowns.
Tight end Zach Ertz registered a career-high 1,163 yards receiving last season and scored eight touchdowns.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

   

Offensive line: Future Hall of Famer Jason Peters, Clown Prince of Philly Sports Jason Kelce and the ever-ornery Lane Johnson anchor one of the best units in the league, allowing the Eagles to stash first-round pick Andre Dillard on the bench.

   

Defensive line: Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson will collapse every pocket they face. With Chris Long retired, the edge rush is short on big names but long on reliable veterans (Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry) and intriguing prospects (Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat).

   

Linebacker: Typically an Eagles weakness but now a strength thanks to the arrival of Zach Brown, who joins Paul Worrilow (injured all of last season) and a bunch of incumbents with Super Bowl experience.

   

Secondary: Last year's injury epidemic was a disguised blessing for the Eagles, who discovered Avonte Maddox and other potential starters when they were forced to scour the bench for healthy humans. Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills are back to battle last year's shock troopers for jobs, with Ronald Darby expected back from the PUP list before the season opener. Safety Rodney McLeod, on the mend from an ACL tear last October, was a limited OTA participant and could be back soon, as well. Pro Bowler Malcolm Jenkins is also back, despite a brief offseason contractual tempest in a teapot.

   

Special teams: Did we mention that Darren Sproles is back?

   

Coaching: Doug Pederson appeared to miss departed assistants Frank Reich and John DeFilippo early last season. But the new brain trust sure looked like it had things figured out by the time December arrived.

That's a championship roster: franchise-caliber quarterback, playoff-tested veterans, exciting youngsters, depth and diversity of weapons on both sides of the ball.

So why aren't the Eagles getting more buzz? There are three reasons—two of them silly, one significant:

     

1. The Eagles are dull. 

Pederson is not fiery or quotable. Wentz's press conferences should be bottled as an insomnia cure. Ertz is the second-most-interesting athlete at his own dinner table. Even Jenkins' social activism sounds staid in this era of non-stop political screaming. The Eagles aren't much fun to write or talk about. But that's a silly reason to overlook them.

Doug Pederson may not dazzle at many press conferences, but he has a 29-19 record  and a Super Bowl win in his three years with the Eagles.
Doug Pederson may not dazzle at many press conferences, but he has a 29-19 record and a Super Bowl win in his three years with the Eagles.Matt Rourke/Associated Press

   

2. The offseason wasn't sexy. 

Philly made lots of shrewd little moves this offseason but no big ones: no OBJ signing, no mass exodus of veterans, no first-round draft splash. The Eagles got better by managing the salary cap wisely so they could retain veterans while adding pieces. That's clever, but it's not the stuff of headlines. But the lack of (ugh)  "narrative" is a silly reason to overlook them.

   

3. "Flawless" doesn't mean "perfect." 

The Eagles may have the fewest weaknesses of any team in the NFL, but that doesn't mean they have the most strengths.

As detailed above, the Eagles are more good than great at running back, at wide receiver, on the edge, at linebacker, at cornerback and across the coaching staff. There's no obvious 15-touchdown playmaker or league-leading sack enforcer on the roster. As they learned back in 2001-03, sturdy teams without that sort of turbo booster have a habit of falling short in the playoffs. (Then they added Terrell Owens, and things got both awesome and weird.) 

That's a significant reason to doubt the Eagles, especially in a division with the Cowboys and in a conference with the Saints, Rams, Bears, etc. But it's still a bad reason to overlook them.

Peace and quiet will likely work in the Eagles' favor this year. Last offseason brought the Super Bowl attention, the scrutiny surrounding Wentz's ACL recovery, the White House controversy and the Wentz-Foles non-divide some worked extra hard to stoke. Those distractions didn't really harm the Eagles the way a zillion cornerback and running back injuries did, but the added attention lurked in the background whenever Wentz tried to do too much late in a game or the coaches tried too hard to replicate what worked in 2017.

The Eagles aren't trying to recreate magic this year. They're just another team slipping quietly into camp, mostly healthy and really, really talented.

A few practices and preseason games may reveal the cracks and seams, the weaknesses and unfortunate injuries. 

But right now, the Eagles look pretty flawless.

Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter:@MikeTanier.

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