It’s time for our Eagle Maven Awards presented by yours truly and my colleague John McMullen.
So let’s go :
WIZARD OF THE YEAR
Kracz: Brian Johnson. Coming off the board with this one, knowing my colleague would take Jeff Stoutland. Give me the QB coach. Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen get a lot of the credit for Jalen Hurts’ improvement throughout the season, and Hurts gets a lot of that as well, but Johnson’s behind-the-scenes work has gone unnoticed. He and Hurts have known each other for a long time, and I guess that relationship was a plus.
Mc Mullen: Jeff Stoutland. The Offensive Line/Running Game Coordinator’s ability to develop offensive line talent is unmatched in the NFL, but he is also one of the best teachers when it comes to planning the running game. with perhaps only the San Francisco duo of Kyle Shanahan and Mike McDaniel in conversation.
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE
Kracz: Jason Kelce. Not his level of play, which led to another All-Pro bet, but his continued good health. There hasn’t been a healthy offensive lineman for 16, now 17 games, in a long time. The center is the exception. His streak of 122 straight regular-season starts is phenomenal, especially considering he last missed a start in 2014.
Mc Mullen: Jack Stoll. The tight end, an undrafted rookie from Nebraska, proved to be a capable blocker and was one of the reasons Nick Sirianni was able to turn his offense into a run-first mentality with over 12 and 13 people. Once Zach Ertz was traded to Arizona, the Eagles needed a competent option to partner with emerging star Dallas Goedert and Stoll proved to be just that.
THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Kracz: Derek Barnett. Two sacks of a former first-round pick. Oh good? That’s a career low for DE and that’s saying something since his previous career low was 2.5, but he only played six games when he did in 2018. This year he played in 16.
Mc Mullen: Jalen Reagor, If anything, the WR regressed in their second season after a disappointing freshman campaign despite the Eagles bringing in a renowned coaching staff to understand and develop receivers. In the end, Reagor lost his WR2 status to a sixth-round pick in his same draft class, Quez Watkins, and general manager Howie Roseman admitted the Eagles needed more Reagor.
Kracz: Quez Watkins. The sophomore wide receiver went from six games played with seven catches and 106 yards as a rookie to 17 games played with 43 receptions for 647 yards (15.0 yards per catch). He is now the team’s No. 2 receiver on the depth chart.
Mc Mullen: Jordan Mailata. Forget 2018 when the attacking tackle arrived as a big sporting draft who had never played organized football in his life and needed help with his helmet. By the end of the 2020 season, Jeff Stoutland had developed Mailata into a proficient swing tackle with starting potential.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and it was Mailata against Andre Dillard for the starting left tackle job with the secret hope that the latter, the Eagles’ 2019 first-round pick, would grab the job. Mailata quickly passed Dillard, who is solid passing, and at the end of the season was arguably the second-best LT in the NFL, with only future first-round Hall of Famer Trent Williams comfortably ahead of Mailata.
RETURNING PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kracz: Jordan Howard. No one wanted RB in the offseason until the Eagles called in on a one-year minimum contract. Then the Eagles didn’t really seem to want him on their roster until Sanders got hurt in Las Vegas. Promoted from the practice squad, the hard-nosed runner fulfilled his role perfectly and finished with 407 yards and three touchdowns in just seven games.
Mc Mullen: Lane Johnson. Typically, a comeback isn’t in-season, but Johnson’s ability to bounce back from mental health issues that forced him out of the team for three games, work through those issues, and become a leader again. one of the best tackles in the game deserves to be noted. enough to change the ideas received on this kind of price.
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kracz: Milton Williams. I agree with my colleague here.
Mc Mullen: Milton Williams. The defensive lineman, a third-round pick from Louisiana Tech, proved to be a versatile player as the Eagles envisioned him with the ability to bounce on the outside if needed. The rookie played in all 17 games and the playoff encounter in Tampa, amassing 30 tackles — six for loss — with two sacks and two pass breakups while playing 40% of the snaps in the regular season. He also showed the kind of rare explosiveness on the ball that bodes well for the future.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kracz: DeVonta Smith. The Eagles have a No. 1 receiver. Finally.
Mc Mullen: Landon Dickerson. Here, the steak trumps the sizzle. There’s nothing wrong with going with DeVonta Smith, who was great in breaking DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie record for receiving yards, but the way the Eagles’ offense was built on the turnaround after the 2-5 start, Dickerson was more important at the back line after the second-round pick moved to left guard in place of Isaac Seumalo.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kracz: Darius Slay. Three defensive touchdowns and a Pro Bowl nod for a player in a position where the team typically struggles to find good players is enough for me.
Mc Mullen: TJ Edwards. Darius Slay was the Eagles best defender and maybe Edwards would be better suited for a defensive MVP award, but in this build you have to choose, and Edwards taking control of the green dot was the turning point for the defense of Jonathan Gannon. The undrafted former free agent finished with 125 tackles – five for loss – and proved to be a playmaker with one interception, one sack, five pass breakups and one fumble recovery.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kracz: Dallas Godert. We have to, and my colleague agrees.
Mc Mullen: Dallas Godert. The best pure football player in 2021-22 was tight end Dallas Goedert, who became the kind of player the Eagles thought he would be once Zach Ertz was traded to Arizona. Per, PFF Goedert was the second-best TE in the NFL behind only Mark Andrews and was rated Philadelphia’s top player. Pretty much the only nitpick you could do on Goedert was the occasional fall where he lost a bit of focus.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Kracz: Jalen hurts. Once again, my colleague and I agree. It is the only responsible choice.
Mc Mullen: Jalen hurts. You want your quarterback to be your most valuable player and that’s exactly what Hurts has been for the Eagles 2021-22. His unique playing skills often don’t fit into traditional boxes, but the Eagles’ ability to generate explosive plays with the NFL’s best offense can all be attributed to Hurts being the most touted one in the game of racing, as well as its off-schedule capabilities.
Hurts has generated 106 explosive plays this season behind only superstars like Tom Brady (111), Justin Herbert (111) and Josh Allen (109) despite missing two games. When you factor in Hurts’ off-field characteristics, no one was more valuable to this team.
Ed Kracz is SI.com’s Eagle Maven editor and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles Where www.eaglemaven.com and follow him on Twitter: @kracze.