Handing out Eagles awards at the halfway point of the 2020 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles have reached the halfway point in the 2020 season and things haven’t exactly gone as planned.
Sure, the Eagles are in first place in the NFC East but they are there with a 3-4-1 record.
Doug Pederson and the rest of the team are using the bye week to self-scout and take a look back at their first eight games. We’ll do the same.
Here are some midseason Eagles awards:
MVP/Best defensive player: Brandon Graham
He’s 32 and in his 11th NFL season but Graham is having the best season of his career. Through eight games, Graham has 7 sacks, 25 tackles, 11 QB hits, 9 TFLs and 2 forced fumbles. Graham has never been a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro and he’s never reached double digit sacks. But he’s halfway through a season that could change all that.
Stats aside, Graham has been a constant leader and source of energy for the defense and the entire team. It’s hard to imagine where the Eagles would be without him this season.
Best offensive player: Jason Kelce
It’s probably not a great sign, generally speaking, that the Eagles best defensive and offensive players are two of the oldest guys on the team. But I think this award has to go to Kelce. You can certainly make an argument for Travis Fulgham, but Kelce has played every game and every snap all season at a high level. The All-Pro just turned 33 but has played all 567 snaps on offense this year and has been the one constant on an offensive line that has otherwise been decimated by injuries.
While we don’t have a ton of stats to work with, PFF ranks Kelce as the fourth-best center in the NFL this season, which is even more impressive when you factor in all the extra work he has needed to do to help out a rotating cast of players around him on the line.
Biggest surprise: Travis Fulgham
There are some other candidates worthy of consideration, but let’s be honest: Travis Fulgham is a no-brainer here. And you can even make a strong case he warrants consideration as the top offensive player and even the MVP through half the season. That’s how good he has been for five games.
Since getting promoted from the practice squad, Fulgham leads all NFL players in receiving yards. He has 29 catches for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s the real deal.
Biggest disappointment: Carson Wentz
Zach Ertz is certainly deserving of this honor but it needs to go to the starting quarterback. Wentz has had a few fleeting moments of greatness through eight games but has otherwise been inconsistent and careless with the football. The Eagles were hoping for a Pro Bowl-type season from Wentz and instead they’ve gotten a guy who has turned the ball over 16 times in eight games.
Sure, the Eagles have had plenty of injuries on offense and that hasn’t helped the quarterback. He’s been getting protected by a duct-taped offensive line and he’s been throwing to some guys he doesn’t know very well. But instead of elevating those around him, Wentz has been dragged down with them. He’s one of the biggest problems with the team right now.
Best offseason addition: Darius Slay
During the first eight games, Slay hasn’t been perfect. He doesn’t have a pick yet and he’s even dealt with a few minor injuries. But overall, he’s been as good as advertised, shutting down some top receivers through eight games. The secondary as a whole hasn’t been great but Slay’s not the problem. The 29-year-old is still a really sticky cover corner.
Worst offseason addition: Nickell Robey-Coleman
Javon Hargrave was the biggest free agent pickup and he hasn’t lived up to that contract yet, but he is switching defensive schemes and had to overcome an injury. Meanwhile, Robey-Coleman has been a liability and certainly not the steal the Eagles thought they were getting. The Eagles weren’t really searching for a nickel corner this offseason but getting NRC was a bargain at $1.35 million so they pulled the trigger. Give credit to NRC for being willing to play outside out of necessity but he hasn’t played at a very high level.
Best offensive play: Game-winner to Boston Scott
In Week 7, just after Jason Kelce was flagged for a facemask, the Eagles were down five points and facing a 1st-and-goal from the Giants’ 18-yard line. No problem.
Wentz was able to maneuver his way up into the pocket, go through his reads and hit a streaking Boston Scott with a beautiful pass over Jabrill Peppers in tight coverage. Great throw, great catch. And it gave the Eagles a huge 22-21 win.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 23, 2020
Worst offensive play: Wentz interception in Week 2
The Eagles weren’t quite in the red zone but they had a 1st-and-10 from the Rams’ 21-yard line in the third quarter back in Week 2. They were driving with a chance to take a second-half lead and Wentz got way over aggressive and tried to thread the needle when he absolutely didn’t need to. And he tried to thread the needle to … J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) September 20, 2020
“I have to be smarter in that situation,” Wentz said.
Aside from the terrible decision to force that ball in, Wentz also had bad mechanics, letting his stance get way too wide. All in all, it was a terrible play in the loss.
Best defensive play: Edwards strip sack, McLeod to the house
The Eagles beat the Cowboys but before this play, Dallas was driving with a real chance to take the lead with a touchdown and an extra point in the fourth quarter. But T.J. Edwards timed up his blitz for the strip sack. And somehow the ball squirted out without a whistle and Rodney McLeod has the presence of mind to pick it up and house it.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 2, 2020
Worst defensive play: Brandon Aiyuk 38-yard touchdown
The Eagles got out to a quick 8-0 lead on the 49ers but gave it back late in the first quarter. Brandon Aiyuk caught a little swing pass, broke two initial tackles and then eventually hurdled Marcus Epps to get into the end zone. Oh yeah, and Darius Slay got hurt on the play. It was a comedy of errors.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 5, 2020
Best rookie: Jalen Reagor
Let’s be honest: There hasn’t really been a lot of competition for this award so far in 2020. This came down to Reagor, Jack Driscoll, Jalen Hurts and K’Von Wallace. Three of those four have gotten hurt this season and one of them barely plays. But even in just three games, Reagor has shown some promise and has given the Eagles some hope about the future. He has just eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown but it’s a start.
Comeback player: Malik Jackson
Again, not much competition for this one. We thought DeSean Jackson was going to have a chance at this one but that clearly hasn’t happened. Malik Jackson has been battling through a quad injury recently but he got off to a good start and has definitely outplayed Hargrave, whom the Eagles brought in on a big contract this offseason. In seven games, Jackson has 1 1/2 sacks and is tied with Graham for QB hits with 11.
Re-live the Eagles' Sunday Night Football win against the Cowboys on Eagles Rewind, airing Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia.