Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles don't practice on Wednesday, but they'll return to the NovaCare Complex to begin preparing to face the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. Doug Pederson will hold a 10:30 a.m. news conference. Nick Foles speaks at 12:45 p.m. Other players will also meet with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, and you'll likely hear from the Eagles' Pro Bowlers.
The Eagles have six Pro Bowlers this year: Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Brooks, Malcolm Jenkins, and Lane Johnson. That's their most to make an initial Pro Bowl roster since 2009, and it should be expected with the best team in the NFL. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers have more. I'm not surprised by any of the selections, all of whom earned a spot. I think Jenkins has had better seasons when he didn't make the Pro Bowl, but he's been a key player on defense in a new role. He's played in the box more this year and has helped against the run and covering tight ends instead of spending a lot of time in the slot. The Brooks-Johnson combination has been such a strength for the Eagles, and the good news is they'll be together for a long time in Philadelphia. Same with the Wentz-Ertz connection. It's not the last time these players will earn Pro Bowl invitations. Cox has his third consecutive Pro Bowl nod, and he's only 27. There's a reason why he's the centerpiece of the defense. His statistics don't always do justice to how much of a force he is in the middle of the defensive line.
I heard from fans upset that Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce didn't make the Pro Bowl. I agree that they're having Pro Bowl-caliber seasons, although there are 20-plus other fan bases that have legitimate cases to make about Pro Bowl "snubs" on their teams. Because you see Graham and Kelce every week, it might seem more egregious. But Kansas City's Alex Smith, Pittsburgh's Cam Heyward, Chicago's Akiem Hicks, and Minnesota's Harrison Smith are also high on that list. There are more good players than there are spots. And considering the number of players who don't go to the Pro Bowl, a good chunk of alternates will end up making it. I remember talking to Jenkins when he made the game as an alternate a few years ago. He said this one won't have an asterisk next to his name on his record, and he's right.
I'm always interested in team building. Of the Eagles' six Pro Bowlers, four were draft picks and the other two were Day 1 free-agent signings. Cox, Johnson, and Wentz were all first-round picks in Philadelphia. They were the three highest first-round picks the Eagles made in the last 17 years, which is a good sign — they're landing blue-chip players at those spots. And how about the 2013 draft? Johnson in the first round, Ertz in the second round. Even if the rest of the draft wasn't especially fruitful, landing two Pro Bowlers with their first two picks makes that a key draft haul. The Eagles have now drafted players who reached the Pro Bowl with the team in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016. There are two former Eagles who made the Pro Bowl this year: Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy and Pittsburgh offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who was a defensive lineman during the 2014 training camp with the Eagles.
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— Zach Berman
What you need to know about the Eagles
The Eagles are sending six players to the Pro Bowl, although they're likely hoping they won't need to play because they'll be preparing for the Super Bowl.
What needs to be done to fix the Eagles defense? Les Bowen looks at Jim Schwartz's unit, which might have needed to experience disappointment.
Schwartz said the defense must play better, but the win is what matters most.
Carson Wentz was back with the team on Tuesday.
Doug Pederson must make home-field advantage his priority before deciding to rest players, Mike Sielski says. (And Pederson is.)
If you missed Tuesday's newsletter, Jay Ajayi continues to get more playing time.
From the mailbag
No, they most likely won't. The best players who are on injured reserve all have long-term injuries that keep them from returning during the next two months: Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, and Chris Maragos. Caleb Sturgis or Donnel Pumphrey could potentially be candidates to come off injured reserve, but I don't think there's a necessity for either player. Sidney Jones is a wild card while practicing on the non-football injury list, and he's probably the player who would fit best in the category of an impact talent the Eagles could get for the playoffs. The Eagles have to make a decision on his status during the two weeks. My guess is he goes on injured reserve instead of the 53-man roster, but it remains an unknown. It's something I'll try to explore further next week as they get closer to decision time.