Post originally appeared on Pro Sports Notes
March 4, 2019
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The unsung heroes of the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles season
Posted on March 4, 2019
The unsung heroes that led to the Eagles success
There are four guys that I will discuss as unsung heroes of the 2018 season in this article. The media and fans slandered these folks consistently throughout the season. At times, they deserved the criticism. However, at this point looking back on the season, the final successes that the team had were because of the following four individuals.
The unsung heroes of the defense, starting with Jim Schwartz
The first unsung hero to talk about is Schwartz. Schwartz took a lot of heat this season. His prevent style defense was a frustration of many Eagles fans. Especially on 4th & 15 and 4th & 10 situations that ended up being the difference between wins and losses.
In 2017, the Eagles ranked fourth in interceptions with 19, fifth in rushing touchdowns allowed with seven, and fourth in turnover percentage at 15.4%. In 2018, the team ranked 25th in interceptions with 10, 19th in rushing touchdowns allowed with 14, and 25th in turnover percentage at 9.1.
The numbers weren’t there. And the takeaways weren’t there. However, this defense never quit. Going into the back half of the season, it was crunch time for the playoffs. Schwartz got these guys disciplined and playing together, helping secure a playoff berth. The defense held strong against the Rams, Texans, and Redskins to lead the Eagles to the playoffs. Let’s not forget that the Bears offense was considered too explosive for the Eagles to contain. Schwartz needs the credit for getting that defense solid.
Although Schwartz deserves credit for the defense as a whole, there is one key piece to the puzzle that was crucial in the development of the defense. That piece is Undlin. Undlin is the defensive backs coach for the Eagles. Reminding you of his title should be explanation enough for why he is one of the unsung heroes of 2018.
There was a revolving door in the defensive backfield through the majority of the season. There were so many injuries at the cornerback position. In addition to losing every starter in the defensive backfield other than Malcolm Jenkins, even the backups were going down with injuries. Without Undlin, the combination of Tre Sullivan, Chandon Sullivan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Rasul Douglas, and Avonte Maddox doesn’t work out.
As I said, it was a revolving door. There were constantly different combinations of players starting. Undlin is one of the unsung heroes of the season because he got that group of guys to gel when it mattered most.
Continuing along the same lines with the defensive backfield, there is one more person who was a key piece in getting that final group together. Schwartz was responsible for getting the defense as a whole ready. Undlin was responsible for getting the defensive backs ready. However, Dwayne Joseph, the Director of Pro Scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles, was responsible for getting some of these guys on to the team. One guy, in particular, is Cre’Von LeBlanc. Furthermore, withoutJoseph, Schwartz would never have had any idea who LeBlanc was.
Joseph is one of the unsung heroes of the 2018 Eagles season because he was responsible for bringing guys like LeBlanc to the roster.
Personally, I just think people were too quick to jump down Pederson’s throat in some instances. Although, I agree sometimes his playcalling this season was extremely vanilla and predictable. However, when it comes to the way this team stuck together when they could have folded, all of that credit goes to Pederson. He is one of the unsung heroes of the season because of the way he kept this team together from the first day of OTAs to their final game in New Orleans.
Obviously, praise toward Pederson has increased. However, I think that this specific reason isn’t discussed enough. Without a coach like Pederson, that Eagles team falls apart in Week 10. Therefore, the playoff run should be attributed to Pederson’s leadership, command of the locker room, and cultural build.
Who will be the unsung heroes in 2019?
Even when the season looked bleak, these unsung heroes turned it around. They are the reasons for the team’s success.
Hopefully, the 2019 season will never get to that low point. However, there are chances for more people to step up and make the 2019 season something special. Who do you think will be the unsung heroes of 2019?