Column: Eagles’ All-Decade Team
The Eagles experienced quite a decade.
It was an eventful, 10-year run that included tragedies and controversies, dream teams and nightmarish squads, ridiculous trades, the introduction of smoothies and sleep studies, and the first NFL championship in 56 seasons.
Under coaches Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson, the Birds compiled a 91-75 record in regular-season and playoff games, won four NFC East titles, made five playoff appearances and ultimately ended a decades-long drought by winning Super Bowl LII.
The decade started with the amazing comeback of quarterback Michael Vick, who took over for an injured Kevin Kolb and wound up becoming the NFC Offensive Player of the Year. Before the 2012 season, Reid's eldest son, Garrett Reid, died of a heroin overdose during training camp at Lehigh University. In 2013, Kelly took over and immediately had to deal with wide receiver Riley Cooper's racist rant during a concert. All was forgotten in 2017, when quarterback Nick Foles took over for injured Carson Wentz and delivered a championship, which led to center Jason Kelce donning a Mummers costume for his famous speech.
"We're from Philly, F-ing Philly, no one likes us, we don't care. ..."
Here are my picks for the Eagles' All-Decade team, the best players at each position over the last 10 years.
QUARTERBACK - Nick Foles. He enjoyed the best single season in 2013 with his 27-2 (27 touchdowns vs. two interceptions) output, but gets my vote because of 2017 and 2018. He truly was "Philly Special."
RUNNING BACK - LeSean McCoy. Coach Chip Kelly's worst move was trading McCoy - the franchise's alltime leading rusher - to Buffalo after the 2014 season in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso.
WIDE RECEIVERS (2) - DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Kelly's second-worst move was releasing Jackson after a tremendous season in 2013. Jackson struggled with injuries this season, but his first go-round with the team was terrific. Maclin combined for 202 receptions and 22 touchdowns from 2010-2012.
TIGHT ENDS (2) - Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. Celek, who retired after the Super Bowl, was a tough, reliable player who remained a terrific blocker after his pass-catching skills became less evident. Ertz is the most productive tight end in franchise history.
CENTER - Jason Kelce. His athleticism and intelligence has made him one of the NFL's best centers. He's made three Pro Bowls for a reason.
GUARDS - Brandon Brooks and Evan Mathis. Brooks is currently considered the best guard in the league and arguably the best offensive lineman. Mathis, one of the members of the infamous "Dream Team," was also among NFL's top lineman during his four seasons (2011-14).
TACKLES - Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. Peters is no longer an elite player, but is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Johnson has overcome two league suspensions and injuries to become a terrific right tackle.
DEFENSIVE ENDS - Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. Cole had 38.5 of his 90.5 career sacks for the Eagles in 2010-2014. I never saw him take a play off in his 10 years with the Eagles. Graham has the same motor. He's as good against the run as the pass.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES - Fletcher Cox and Mike Patterson. Cox was an easy choice. He didn't have the best season in 2019, but he is still one of the top interior lineman in the NFL. Patterson gets a slight nod over Cullen Jenkins and Bennie Logan.
LINEBACKERS - DeMeco Ryans (middle), Connor Barwin, Mychal Kendricks. Ryans was nicknamed "Mufasa" by Eagles teammates because of his veteran leadership during his four-year tenure. Barwin, who recently rejoined the franchise as an assistant to the general manager, had 31.5 sacks in four seasons. Kendricks, now with Seattle, started 74 games over six seasons.
CORNERBACKS - Asante Samuel and Patrick Robinson. Samuel had 10 interceptions during his final two seasons with the Eagles in 2010 and 2011. Robinson was only here one season, but his interception and pick-six against Minnesota in the 2017 NFC championship game was one of the biggest defensive plays in franchise history.
SAFETIES - Quinton Mikell and Malcolm Jenkins. Mikell's eight-year tenure with the Eagles included just one season (2010) in the last decade, but he was a leader and playmaker. Jenkins has been a productive player and big mentor to younger players in six seasons.
PLACE-KICKER - David Akers. Like Mikell, Akers' 12-year career in Philly had just one season (2010) in the decade, but he was among the league's most durable and reliable kickers. He holds the franchise record with 188 regular-season games played.
PUNTER - Donnie Jones. The Eagles went through a string of punters such as Sav Rocca, Chas Henry, Mat McBriar before signing Jones in 2013. He brought stability to the position during a five-year stint and gains extra credit for being a good golfer.
LONG SNAPPER - Jon Dorenbos. With apolgies to current standout Rick Lovato, Dorenbos was among the league's best long snappers and easily its best magicians. He was also one of my alltime favorite players to interview.
RETURNER - Darren Sproles. Before a string of injuries limited his effectiveness, he was one of the NFL's top punt returners. He had four returns for touchdowns for the Eagles during his six-year stay in Philly.
COACH - Doug Pederson. The end of Reid's reign wasn't good. The Eagles went 22-26 in 2010-12, including a 4-12 season in 2012. Kelly was successful early in his three-year stint, but his mistakes as head of personnel set the team back years. Pederson has made the playoffs three straight seasons and will never have to pay for an ice cream cone in Philly again.