Philadelphia Eagles News

Spadaro: Pro Bowl snubs? Plenty on this talented T-E-A-M

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

The number of 2023 Pro Bowl players for the Eagles is a league-best eight, but it easily could have been, what, 18? Sound about right? A team that is 13-1 is getting the highest-level play across the board on this roster, so when the players were informed on Tuesday afternoon by the coaching staff ahead of Wednesday night's official announcement, there was particular joy for some of those who made it for the first time – quarterback Jalen Hurts, running back Miles Sanders, left guard Landon Dickerson, linebacker Haason Reddick.

And, of course, there was acknowledgment for those who had been before, players who are almost automatics: center Jason Kelce (his sixth), cornerback Darius Slay (his fifth), right tackle Lane Johnson (his fourth), wide receiver A.J. Brown (his second).

But for the most part, it was recognition for the team because everything about the 2022 Eagles is about the team. Team success is first, foremost, and the only thing that really matters.

"This is a great team because we want everyone to have success," Sanders said. "That's been our whole mindset the entire season. That's how we have connected. It's like coach (Head Coach Nick Sirianni) says every day: 'Look to connect at an even deeper level with each other.' I think we've done that."

No question about that. At a time when everyone on the outside is peering through the window trying to get the scoop on who will play quarterback on Saturday at Dallas, the Eagles are keeping the business-as-usual approach. You wouldn't know a thing is different this week from any other week of this 13-1 season because that's how Sirianni runs his operation: He puts the same energy and focus into every day and his players do the same and, honestly, everyone is having a heckuva fun time doing it. These kinds of seasons don't come around often, so you either appreciate it or you don't belong here.

The kind of respect this team has for every member of the roster is real, too, because everyone is aiding the cause. The Eagles are a darn good team and they know it, and while the eight players gain the recognition – and good for them, because they deserve it – there is another large handful of players who could easily be honored as well.

Want to make that case? I'll do it right here. Isn't DeVonta Smith of that caliber – he of the 71 catches and 905 yards and big plays and acrobatic, how-did-he-do-THAT? catches every week. Left tackle Jordan Mailata has been an iron man at left tackle, the protector of Hurts' blind side, and a key to the prolific running game. Tight end Dallas Goedert would have been a shoo-in had he stayed healthy. I don't know that Isaac Seumalo has made a single mistake this season, but he's far from the flashy type and he just doesn't get a lot of recognition in the galaxy of offensive line stars.

On the defensive side of the ball, it's hard to believe that Javon Hargrave and his 10 quarterback sacks and sturdy play against the run didn't make the grade. Or that end Josh Sweat, who may be having the best season of all of this outstanding group of linemen, was overlooked. Or that linebacker T.J. Edwards, a ballhawk if there ever was one, was beaten out.

What about cornerback James Bradberry? Has he given up a big play this season? He's on the football on every play. Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is injured, so that ruined his chances, but he obviously would have been a strong candidate had he remained on the field.

The point is this, and I could have named more candidates, but what does it matter, really? The Eagles have a stacked roster. Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman said during the final cutdown weekend, when the team reduced the roster to 53 players a week ahead of the regular-season opener against Detroit, that his goal is to have a roster where every single player is of starting caliber.

Geez, Howie, way to hit the mark. Some proof of roster depth we've seen without any real drop-off in production: 17 offensive players have played at least 100 snaps this season and 21 defensive players have done the same. An additional 13 players have taken more than 100 snaps on special teams.

That's why nobody is flinching during a week when the quarterback position remains a question mark. It could be Hurts. It could be Gardner Minshew. No matter who plays, the Eagles have full faith in the highest-quality performance. That's the standard here.

"One thing about this team and being in this locker room," Mailata said, "you understand the expectations. If you are on the field, you are expected to do your job and do it well because that it what you are trained to do. It doesn't matter who you are. We are all here to win football games and that's what we do every week. That is our goal every time we play the game."

So, congratulations to the Pro Bowl players because it is a noteworthy achievement and all should be applauded. But there is also the understanding that there is so much more on a 2022 roster that is deep and ready to play, no matter how it looks on the depth chart.

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