The Pro Bowl is taking on a new format this year with an unconferenced look and captains picking teams instead, playground-style, but the voting process remains the same. Balloting has been open for quite some time now and closes on Thursday, December 26 at 6:00 p.m. The Eagles have a number of players worthy of both consideration and selection, but so far only two – LeSean McCoy (513,961; fourth) and DeSean Jackson (355,040; seventh) – rank among the top-10 vote-getters at their respective positions.
We don’t have to tell you what a grave injustice is being committed here. There are so many more Eagles deserving of making the Pro Bowl, but they need YOUR help to get there. You still have three weeks left to vote, so do everything you can – and vote as many times as you can – to get as many Eagles as possible into the Pro Bowl.
The candidates and their cases:
Nick Foles – Aside from one hiccup against the Cowboys, the second-year pro has blossomed in Chip Kelly’s offense since taking over as the starter for an injured Michael Vick and helped lead the Eagles into the thick of the playoff race. From the NFL record-tying seven-touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders, to challenging Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns thrown without an interception in a season, to setting the new Eagles franchise mark for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception (233), Foles has taken the football world by storm and announced his presence as a legitimate starting quarterback. He was recently – finally – added to the ballot, so make sure you vote him up!
Stats: 124 completions in 196 attempts (63.3%), 1,791 yards, 9.14 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 125.2 QB rating
Riley Cooper – The fourth-year pro has come on strong after a quiet first month of the season and made a major impact on the offense. Cooper has already set a career high in receptions, yards and touchdowns, and is averaging a remarkable 18.8 yards per catch, which ranks third in the NFL.
Stats: 34 receptions, 640 yards, 7 touchdowns
Evan Mathis – The Pro Football Focus darling has been a beacon of excellence and consistency since the moment he arrived in Philadelphia and has continued his dominance at left guard in Kelly’s offense. He is a rock along the line as both a run and pass blocker and his steady play should not be taken for granted.
Jason Kelce – The third-year pro is enjoying an impressive bounce-back season after missing essentially all of the 2012 season with a torn ACL. Kelce is perhaps the NFL’s most athletically-gifted center and one of the Eagles’ undisputed leaders on the field and in the locker room.
Fletcher Cox – The team’s first-round pick in 2012, Cox showed flashes of being a special player as a rookie. He had to transition from 4-3 defensive tackle to 3-4 defensive end in Bill Davis’ new defense for 2013, and while it took some time for the light to turn on, Cox, a naturally gifted pass rusher, has emerged as a disruptive force and catalyst in the unit’s turnaround. He was just named an "All-22 All-Star" by Grantland's Robert Mays.
Stats: 28 total tackles (4.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries, 2 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery
Cedric Thornton – Thornton’s potential has always been evident, and the third-year pro has now established himself as an up-and-coming NFL player. He has been the defensive line’s most consistent performer and is enjoying a breakout campaign, ranking fifth on the team in total tackles. Thornton specializes against the run and often throws blockers around like rag dolls before stepping into the hole and engulfing the ball carrier.
Stats: 49 total tackles (5.0 for loss), 1.0 sack, 1 quarterback hurry, 2 passes defended
DeMeco Ryans – The defense’s unquestioned leader, Ryans has done it all at the inside linebacker position in his eighth and perhaps finest NFL season. He ranks sixth in the NFL in tackles in 2013 and is the heartbeat who sets the tone for the unit and comes up with big plays at crucial moments. Ryans' football IQ is superior, he contributes in every way possible and always has a knack for being in the right place. This would be his third Pro Bowl selection, first since 2009.
Stats: 105 total tackles (7.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 5 passes defended
Connor Barwin – A free-agent signing during the offseason, Barwin has emerged as a veteran leader and been instrumental in the Eagles’ transition from a 4-3 to 3-4 defense. He is the “Jack” linebacker, as Bill Davis calls him, a versatile chess piece capable of performing every task necessary – from rushing the passer, to playing the run, to dropping back in coverage.
“Connor makes the scheme go,” Davis said. “I move him around multiple spots. He's on the outside on the right, outside on the left, he's inside, he's over a guard. We move him around.”
Stats: 46 total tackles (7.0 for loss), 4.0 sacks, 6 quarterback hurries, 10 passes defended, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Nate Allen – The fourth-year safety has rejuvenated his career in 2013 and looks the best he has since his rookie season. Allen's solid play in the secondary has helped solidify the Eagles defense and been key in the unit’s ascent over the past two months. He also ranks fourth in the NFL in tackling efficiency and has quickly rounded into a productive all-around performer.
Stats: 71 total tackles (1.0 for loss), 1.0 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry, 6 passes defended, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Donnie Jones – You might not always think of a punter as an important player who can also serve as a weapon, but Jones has been just that for the Eagles. He ranks right up there with Barwin as the team’s best free-agent signing of the offseason. If you really want an idea of how brilliant and valuable Jones has been for the Eagles, do yourself a favor and read this tribute to him. Jones has won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors two of the past three weeks.
Stats: 41.2 net average punting yards (seventh in the NFL), 29 punts downed inside the 20-yard line (second in the NFL), 5.5 average return yards against (third in the NFL)