Philadelphia Eagles News

Not Only Are The Stars To Credit For 10-4 Eagles

They deserve the headlines, so players like Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Asante Samuel are receiving the accolades for a 10-4 Eagles team. But as we are all well aware, it takes more than a handful to build a division winner, so let's point out some of the other Eagles who have stepped in this remarkable season.

JASON PETERS, left tackle

Brilliant, just brilliant. Jason Peters is headed for his second Pro Bowl as an Eagle, and there simply cannot be another left tackle in the game playing as well as he is playing this season. After a so-so start to the year, Peters underwent surgery to repair meniscus damage in his knee and missed two games. He has returned playing great football.

Peters has been sound in his technique. His discipline has been admirable. Peters has handled the defense's best right ends with near perfection and has been instrumental in a much-improved pass protection scheme for the Eagles. In the last two games, Peters has done a fine job against Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and New York's Osi Umenyiora. Ahead are major challenges with Minnesota's Jared Allen and Ware visiting Lincoln Financial Field.

Andy Reid called Peters "the best left tackle" in the league when the Eagles signed Peters prior to 2009. The man has committed some penalties and has been beaten for a few sacks here and there, but he has more than made up for his mis-steps these last several weeks. Peters is at the top of his game, and the offense is right there with him.

MOISE FOKOU, linebacker

A seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Moise Fokou became a starter as a rookie and then lost that role through the opening quarter of this season. But Fokou has started the last nine games and has remained a key member of the coverage groups on special teams. Fokou has been physical against the run, has blitzed when called upon and has been much improved in his pass coverage.

He is still a relatively inexperienced player after walking on at Maryland. Fokou's best days are in front of him. He is clearly much more instinctive than he was last season. Fokou is playing faster, more confident football. His presence has helped greatly against the run.

ANTONIO DIXON, defensive tackle

People are noticing Antonio Dixon, and that's a good thing. He is a beast inside. Dixon has taken well to line coach Rory's Segrest's teachings and has learned to use his hands to combine with good burst and a great deal of strength. Dixon is a disruptive player against the run. He has also 36 tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks, both career highs.

The Eagles became a more physical defense when Dixon was inserted into the starting lineup nine games ago. In only his second season, and still learning and growing and gaining strength, Dixon has a chance to become something inside for this Eagles defense.

OWEN SCHMITT, fullback

It isn't easy replacing a Pro Bowl player. But that's exactly what Owen Schmitt has done. He isn't as nifty as Leonard Weaver had been with the football in his hands, but Schmitt is a sure-handed receiver and a hard-nosed, very physical blocker. His ability has aided halfback LeSean McCoy reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark, something not a lot of folks took notice of in the frenzy of the weekend win over the Giants.

Don't expect Schmitt to become more involved in the offense. The Eagles have enough weapons to keep defenses off-balance. But he will get a touch here and there and Schmitt will make the most of his chances. He has played his role perfectly this season.

MIKE McGLYNN, center MAX JEAN-GILLES, right guard

Both have solidified positions of question for the Eagles this season. Mike McGlynn's knowledge and skill have grown by leaps and bounds since he replaced Jamaal Jackson as the starting center in the opener against Green Bay. He has faced all kinds of fronts and every different kind of defensive tackle and nose tackle, and he done a fine job. McGlynn is stout, he is smart and he is more athletic than he is given credit for being.

Max Jean-Gilles is a totally different player than he was a year ago. The Lap-Band surgery that he had clearly helped his footwork and his endurance. Jean-Gilles has always been a road grader-type of guard, but now he is niftier with his footwork in pass protection. Good job to both, and to King Dunlap for filling in with four starts -- two at left tackle and two at right tackle -- and keeping this line going in times of need.

QUINTIN MIKELL, safety

Quintin Mikell has started 50 straight games, second only to Green Bay's Nick Collins among NFL active safeties. Following his Pro Bowl debut last season, Mikell leads the Eagles in tackles (101, his third straight year with 100-plus tackles), has a team-high 13 pass deflections and has tied a career high with 3 interceptions.

Mikell has interceptions in each of the last two games, and both came at critical times. He diving pick he had against Eli Manning on Sunday led to an important David Akers field goal for the Eagles.

Plus, Mikell has been a steadying force for a young back seven, one that has suffered key injuries throughout the season. That is a part of the equation that cannot be overlooked. Mikell is a calming, stabilizing piece of the defense, and he happens to be playing some pretty fine football under the radar.

JASON AVANT, wide receiver

He has gained acclaim for the punishing block that provided the final bit of open real estate on Jackson's punt return for a touchdown on Sunday, but Jason Avant has been much more than that this season. He has a career-best 45 receptions as the team's slot receiver. There is no player tougher or with more crispness in his route-running or his pass catching than Avant, and there are few in the league as automatic as he is on third down.

Avant has 15 receptions on third down this year, and 13 of those catches have gained first downs. In his career, Avant has 52 catches on third down, and 45 of them have gained first downs. That is simply remarkable.

There are many others to add to the list ... Maclin, who has 10 touchdowns and 890 yards and who is a "No. 1-caliber" receiver, defensive end Juqua Parker, who is a leader in the locker room and a good player without a lot of fanfare and Dimitri Patterson, who, despite a tough game on Sunday, has been a solid starter at right cornerback for the defense. Heck, everyone has contributed on this team. Fifty-three players, and many more. With all of the injuries and the roster turnover and the setbacks, the Eagles sit 10-4 and one win away from a division title.

It has been a total team effort, in the truest sense of the word.

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