Philadelphia Eagles News

Spadaro: The unsung heroes of this 12-1 Eagles team

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

We know how dominating quarterback Jalen Hurts has been this season, and we know what kind of challenge wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are for defenses, and we know the stars on defense, and all of the headline-making players who gain so much attention. When you're 12-1, you deserve the plaudits. But there are many, many players who aren't gaining the credit.

"I know this," center Jason Kelce said, "it takes every person in this locker room for us to have success. It isn't a handful of players. I think we've shown great depth this season. Every player has done his job, so nobody in here looks at it like there are players who aren't contributing. Everyone is contributing."

With that, some recognition for ...

Isaac Seumalo, offensive guard

Eight hundred and sixty-five snaps into this 2022 season, Isaac Seumalo deserves some love. He has played 95 percent of the snaps at right guard and he has been solid. Super, super solid. Seumalo is a quiet guy and he doesn't do anything flashy on the field, but he's the glue up front with the game's best offensive line. Seumalo doesn't make mental mistakes, he handles all of the physical challenges inside, and he's far more athletic than people think. Ask right tackle Lane Johnson or Kelce, the guys who play next to Seumalo, what they think of him. They rave about what he means to the offensive line.

Quez Watkins, wide receiver

In those wins over Indianapolis and Green Bay, Quez Watkins made key plays – a touchdown catch against the Colts to ignite the Eagles' offense in the fourth quarter and a nifty TD grab late in the first half to send the Eagles into the locker room with a lead over Green Bay. Watkins isn't the featured guy here – he has 26 receptions for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns – and he's as good a third receiver as a team can have. Watkins has top-end speed, good hands, and runs excellent routes. He's had 12 receptions in the most recent three games, helping the offense overcome the loss of tight end Dallas Goedert.

Kenneth Gainwell, running back

Miles Sanders is having a Pro Bowl-level season, no doubt, and he is rightfully the featured running back in this offense. But his backups are doing a very fine job when called upon. Kenneth Gainwell in his second season is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, has scored 4 touchdowns, and is a good receiver when he's targeted. Gainwell is more than solid in pass protection – kudos to all of the running backs in this department – and he is a tough, physical, finish-the-run inside runner. At 5-9 and 200 pounds, Gainwell runs way "bigger" than his size.

Boston Scott, running back

He does it all, doesn't he? Boston Scott has only 48 touches from the line of scrimmage this season and 6 of them went for 33 rushing yards and a score last week against the Giants, but he does so much more. He plays on special teams in coverage and is a factor. He has taken over the kickoff return duties and has 9 returns for 245 yards, with big returns at New York, including a career-long 66-yarder. Scott is the classic plug-and-play guy who just fits into everything – culture, many roles on offense, special teams. He's invaluable.

Jack Stoll/Grant Calcaterra, tight ends

The Eagles scored 123 points without Goedert, mixing and matching some personnel groupings and incorporating other pieces of the offense into what continues to be a dynamic group this season. The growth made by Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra was visible to everyone. Stoll has been a terrific blocker all season, but he's had a chance to run some routes and get more involved in the passing game and he has contributed. Calcaterra is an excellent receiving tight end who has developed his route-running skills, and he has grown tremendously as a blocker – he was particularly impressive against the Giants in the blocking department. The silver lining with Goedert out: Obvious and exciting progress these two young tight ends made.

Jake Elliott, placekicker

He's just unflappable. The Eagles are in the stretch run here and the playoffs beckon and Elliott is as reliable as any kicker out there. Elliott has missed one field goal this year – he had one blocked, not his fault – and has been good on 43 of 45 PATs. Expect some challenging weather in the final month of the season, starting Sunday in Chicago. Not a problem for Elliott, so the Eagles are fortunate to have someone they know will be there when called upon.

Haason Reddick, linebacker

It's hard to say a player who has 10 quarterback sacks slips under the radar, but Haason Reddick does, somehow. He isn't mentioned a ton among the elite pass-rushers in the NFL, but he sure should be. Credit to Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon for bringing out the best in Reddick and using him in a variety of ways, as offensive blocking schemes don't know where he's going to line up from play to play. Reddick is a huge part of this defense and he has been outstanding and Pro Bowl-worthy this season.

T.J. Edwards, linebacker

Eighth in the NFL with 115 total tackles, T.J. Edwards is much more than that in this defense. He lines everyone up. He is the on-field brain of the operation. Edwards is durable, an excellent tackler, physical, fast to the football – a complete linebacker in his fourth season here. Kyzir White has been outstanding this season as well, a tribute to the way these two veterans have worked together to become playmaking linebackers.

Marcus Epps, safety

Here is a guy who has played 99 percent of the defensive snaps as a first-time, full-time starter next to three different safety partners – C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Reed Blankenship, K'Von Wallace – and Marcus Epps has been rock-solid. Outstanding, even. As much as Seumalo is a "glue" guy for the offensive line, Epps is very much that in this terrific secondary. He's always in the right place at the right time. Preparation and dedication and want-to have helped make Epps into a hugely important part of the defense.

Josiah Scott, defensive back

A shout out to Josiah Scott, who has played 37 percent of the defensive snaps mostly in place of Avonte Maddox at the nickel cornerback spot when Maddox was injured. Scott got better and better in that role and is a player the Eagles can move around in the nickel and dime packages. His versatility makes for a great depth contributor for this defense.

Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle

Fletcher Cox is one of the greatest defensive tackles the NFL has had in the last decade, no question about it. He's also playing some very good football now in this defensive line mix and that portends well for the Eagles down the stretch. I include Cox in here because he's not getting much fan and media attention, and he should be recognized for a season in which he's had 6 quarterback sacks, 27 quarterback pressures, 10 quarterback hits, and 6 tackles for loss. And there is a lot more to come for a player who is fresh, hungry, and so happy to be in the hunt again this season.

Milton Williams, defensive tackle

Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph arrived and maybe the thought was Williams might lose some snaps. That really hasn't been the case – he's been about the same all season – and Williams has had some impact games. He had 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, and a quarterback sack in that narrow win at Indianapolis, and then was all over the field on Sunday against the Giants with 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits, and a quarterback sack. When you can bring wave after wave of defensive linemen working hard and producing, offensive lines get worn out. And that is what is happening week after week with this group, so Williams is coming on at the right time.

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