Although I started watching football around the mid-90’s (I was drawn in by Jerry Rice and Barry Sanders), it wasn’t until about the year 2000 when I really started to follow the sport as a true fan. That was right around the beginning of the Andy Reid era with the Eagles. Since that time, the franchise has had its fair share of memorable players to don the midnight green.
Adam Rank came out with a fun article not too long ago titled “All-Time Andy Reid Team”. It was a very interesting and fun read, and it got me wanting to do my own version. But instead I wanted it to be an “All 2000/2010’s Eagles Team” so it would encompass all of the players that I’ve watched so closely for 18 years.
I chose to base my selections mostly off of how talented each player was/is in their prime over just their stats, accolades, and overall resume. Simply put, I picked who I thought were the best talents at each position regardless of longevity with the team.
I do have 12 players on each side of the ball instead of 11, but that’s to account for the 2nd TE and slot receiver on offense, and the weak side linebacker and slot cornerback on defense. 11 personnel, 12 personnel, base package, and nickel package are all frequently used by team’s in today’s NFL so I couldn’t really exclude one or the other. I also chose not to include the FB position so that I could keep it at an even 12 on each side.
There are going to be plenty of disagreements over my list, and I welcome them. Some positions were easy to pick while others were very difficult. I even discussed this with some other fans to get their insight, so I could do my best to not forget anyone and be open minded to how good some players were that I might not have been aware of. I obviously know much more when it comes to evaluating talent right now than I did when I was 14 years old, but I did my best to look back at the older players and evaluate them based on whatever is available now.
So without further ado, here is my team…
Quarterback: Carson Wentz
I know what some of you are going to say. “Wentz has only played 2 seasons! How can you put him over Donovan McNabb?!” Quite frankly, as much as I respect McNabb I’ve seen Wentz play the QB position at a higher level in 2017 than I ever saw McNabb play it. If you want me to just go by career numbers, then I’m obviously going to pick McNabb. But if you ask me who the better talent is and whom I’d start a franchise with knowing what I know now, it’s Carson Wentz all day. And no, Nick Foles is not better than either of them even though he was the quarterback who helped win a Super Bowl, and that’s the truth. Honorable Mentions: Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick, Nick Foles
Running Back: Brian Westbrook
Westbrook is the best RB to ever play for the Philadelphia Eagles. McCoy might be the franchise’s all-time rushing leader, but Westbrook is still the franchise’s all-time yards from scrimmage leader. McCoy might have been the better runner, but Westbrook was the better overall running back. Westbrook could do everything that a RB is asked to do, and he did it all at a high level. He also provided us with unforgettable and clutch moments not only in the regular season but in the playoffs as well. When it comes down to the moments when you need someone to make a play, there’s no doubt that I trust Westbrook to do so more than any RB in Eagles history. Honorable Mentions: LeSean McCoy, Duce Staley, Jay Ajayi
Wide Receiver: Terrell Owens
Oh what could have been. That 2004 season was truly something special. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t have lasted longer. But regardless of how it ended, Owens is no doubt the best receiver the Eagles have had in the past 20 years. The impact he had on this team during both games and practice was remarkable. I share the belief that had Owens stuck around for a few more years, the Eagles would have won a Super Bowl at some point with him, McNabb, and Westbrook leading that offense.
Wide Receiver: Jeremy Maclin
This one might be the first real shocker on my list, but I’ve always believed Maclin was very underrated as a receiver with the Eagles. He might have had only one season of over 1,000 yards receiving, but I’ve always thought that he was a better all-around receiver than DeSean Jackson, he was just constantly overshadowed by Jackson because Jackson was the better big play guy. But Maclin was a very good deep threat as well, as he proved in 2014. And he was sure-handed too, only dropping 2 passes on 143 targets in 2014. Give me Maclin in his prime over both Jackson and Alshon Jeffery in theirs. Honorable Mentions: DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery
Slot Receiver: Nelson Agholor
What a difference a year makes. Last year anyone who had seen this article would have thought it was some kind of joke to have Agholor on this list. That just speaks volumes to how huge of a turnaround he had in 2017. What’s scary is that he’s still getting better too. Some people, myself included, do believe that Agholor is the most talented receiver on the team right now, even over Alshon Jeffery. Honorable Mentions: Jason Avant, Freddie Mitchell
Tight End: Zach Ertz
It took a few seasons for Ertz to hit his stride, but in 2017 he finally had “breakout” year we were all waiting for and is currently one of the best TEs in the league. He might not be great at getting yards after the catch, but his route running, ball skills, and ability to use his size to his advantage is better than any TE since 2000, and I don’t even think it’s close.
Tight End: Brent Celek
Celek is one of the very few players that have really embodied what the city of Philadelphia is all about. When he was in his prime, Celek was as tough as they come and a very good receiver. He wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work, like blocking, for the team to be successful. Honorable Mentions: Chad Lewis, LJ Smith
Offensive Tackle: Jason Peters
The future Hall of Famer has long been the premier left tackle in the NFL, mastering certain areas of pass protection (coaches use him as the perfect example of how to execute a jump set) and displaying the type of athleticism needed from offensive tackles in today’s game. I don’t think there’s anyone more intimidating or respected on this current Eagles team than Peters.
Offensive Tackle: Tra Thomas
It was a little difficult for me to pick between Thomas and Lane Johnson, especially after the incredible season Johnson had in 2017 and knowing how athletic Johnson is for an OT. But in the end, I had to go with Thomas. He was just so reliable and dependable, only missing 1 game out of 166. Thomas had incredible size and was an absolute wall when it came to protecting McNabb’s blindside. Honorable Mentions: Lane Johnson, John Runyan
Offensive Guard: Shawn Andrews
It’s almost easy to forget how good Andrews was, but there was a time when he was one of the best offensive linemen in the entire league. He was absolutely dominant at RG for the Eagles in 2006. It’s a shame how quickly his time with the franchise ended, and the way it ended too. But I’m confident in saying that when he was at the top of his game, there was no OG that was better than him for the Eagles since 2000.
Offensive Guard: Evan Mathis
Mathis was another player who had a very short but elite stint with the team, just like Shawn Andrews. In 2013 Mathis was one of the reasons LeSean McCoy was able to win the rushing title. He was the best run-blocking OG in the league. Honorable Mentions: Brandon Brooks, Todd Herremans
Center: Jason Kelce
I promise I’m not picking Kelce because he gave arguably the greatest speech in Philadelphia’s history, even though some of you probably wouldn’t blame me if I did. But Kelce’s play more than speaks for itself. I can’t think of many centers, if any, in the league that are better in the zone running game than Kelce. His ability to get to multiple levels is remarkable. Honorable Mentions: Hank Fraley, Jamaal Jackson
Defensive End: Trent Cole
Appropriately nicknamed “The Hunter”, Cole hunted down opposing quarterbacks at a high rate and finished his career with the Eagles 2nd on the team’s all-time sacks list. Fast, quick, and relentless, he was so difficult to contain. He would absolutely explode off the line.
Defensive End: Hugh Douglas
Not to be outdone, Douglas was also a relentless pass rusher in the early 2000s for the Eagles and even racked up 15 total sacks in the 2000 season. He wasn’t just a speed rusher either. He had power and strength packed into his compact frame. Honorable Mentions: Brandon Graham, Jevon Kearse, Jason Babin
Defensive Tackle: Fletcher Cox
Cox is the most physically dominant defensive lineman the Eagles have had the past 20 years. The success of the defense starts with him and his ability to get consistent penetration in the trenches and wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Defensive Tackle: Corey Simon
Simon was a very good pass rushing interior lineman for the Eagles. During his rookie season he racked up 9.5 sacks, which is stellar for a DT. Honorable Mentions: Brodrick Bunkley, Timmy Jernigan
Middle Linebacker: Jeremiah Trotter
With today’s game being so pass-heavy, a team’s MIKE needs to be very good in coverage. However, if you still love the old-school, downhill middle linebackers then you definitely loved Trotter’s game. The “Axe-man” had an incredible start to his career with the Eagles, but what I remember most about him was the impact he had on the 2004 team after playing 2 years in Washington. He came back, started towards the bottom of the depth chart, worked his way back up into the starting lineup, and was an absolute difference maker in stopping the run for the defense. Honorable Mentions: DeMeco Ryans, Jordan Hicks
Strong Side Linebacker: Carlos Emmons
I’m going to admit, the Eagles’ options at LB have been pretty thin since 2000, but Emmons does deserve the nod here as one of the outside linebackers. He was solid and maybe a bit underrated.
Weak Side Linebacker: Mychal Kendricks
You can look at Kendricks’ career with the Eagles as somewhat disappointing, although he did play a big role in the team’s Super Bowl Championship run after Jordan Hicks was lost for the year. He flashed so much potential after his rookie year, but just never seemed to be able to put it all together. He was very inconsistent in coverage, which is surprising for someone with his speed, but he was good at attacking downhill and blitzing.
Outside Cornerback: Troy Vincent
This was by far the toughest position to decide on, but I’m going to start with Vincent. It’s impossible to argue against his top tier talent when he has the resume to back it up. When he was in his prime he was a top 5 CB in the league. Vincent was the complete package, possessing great man and zone coverage skills as well as great run defending ability. Some make the argument for him being the greatest CB in franchise history over Eric Allen. Whether you agree with that take or not, he gets the first nod at CB here.
Outside Cornerback: Asante Samuel
The second CB spot came down to Samuel and Sheldon Brown, and even though Brown is probably my personal favorite CB to ever play for the Eagles (see: Reggie Bush hit), I had to go with Samuel. Say what you want about Samuel’s lack of physicality as a tackler, but there’s no denying how much of a game changer he was with his ability to force turnovers. I used to marvel at his football intelligence, how he would read opposing quarterbacks in off coverage, lure them into making the throw, and instantly jump the route. He was the best at it. His playmaking ability was truly special. Honorable Mentions: Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Bobby Taylor
Slot Cornerback: Al Harris
Before Harris made a name for himself in Green Bay, he was the young and talented nickel corner for the Eagles in the early 2000s. Him, Troy Vincent, and Bobby Taylor made up arguably the best CB group in the league. Honorable Mentions: Patrick Robinson, Brandon Boykin
Safety: Brian Dawkins
Out of every position on this list, this selection is the most obvious. Dawkins is arguably the most beloved athlete not only in Eagles history, but in Philadelphia sports history too. The passion and intensity he played with was absolutely captivating. His versatility in Jim Johnson’s scheme helped redefine the safety position. And his leadership and love for the city and fans is unrivaled. Him being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the same year that the Eagles won their first Super Bowl wasn’t just coincidence; it was destiny.
Safety: Malcolm Jenkins
After Dawkins’ heartbreaking departure from the franchise, the team was constantly in search for its next great safety to command the defense. It took about 5 years, but they finally found the guy when they signed the former New Orleans Saint. What’s great is that he didn’t really become this good until he joined the Eagles. He might not be on Dawkins’ level, but his versatility and leadership does bring back flashes of Dawkins. Make no mistake though, whether it’s him remaining active in the community off the field or absolutely laying out Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LII, Jenkins has made a name for himself in this city forever. Honorable Mentions: Michael Lewis, Quintin Mikell
Kicker: David Akers
Part of me considered Jake Elliott, but in the end there’s no way I could put him over Akers. What separates Akers from a lot of kickers is his toughness and grit. He wasn’t afraid to make a tackle on a returner, nor was he willing to leave a game due to an injury unless he knew he was physically unable to make the kick. Akers might have been “just a kicker,” but at the same time he was definitely more than just that. Honorable Mention: Jake Elliot
Punter: Sean Landetta
I’m not going to say much about Landetta. He was a great punter. Not much else I can say beyond that. Honorable Mention: Donnie Jones
Kick Returner: Darren Sproles
I will admit that I’m cheating a little bit here because Sproles didn’t really return kicks for the Eagles, he only returned punts. But Sproles still has the resume of being a great kick returner during his career with San Diego and New Orleans. I’m sure we all remember the 2013-14 Wild Card Playoff Game against the Saints and how Sproles setup the game-winning field goal with a long kick return. So because of that, I’m including him as my kick returner because I couldn’t put him over the player I have for punt returner but I also just couldn’t leave him off of the list. Honorable Mention: Brian Mitchell
Punt Returner: DeSean Jackson
I might not have put Jackson as one of my wide receivers, but I wasn’t going to completely leave him off. No one was as dangerous as a punt returner for the Eagles as D-Jax. Just ask Tom Coughlin and Matt Dodge. Jackson might have had his flaws, but I’ll always appreciate the electrifying plays he made for the Eagles, and he’ll forever be remembered for his game-winning touchdown return in the “Miracle at the New Meadowlands.” Honorable Mentions: Brian Westbrook, Darren Sproles, Brian Mitchell
Head Coach: Doug Pederson
The job Pederson did in 2017, leading the Eagles to their 1st ever Super Bowl, was nothing short of spectacular. His ability to put a gameplan together was the best in the league, and I’m confident in saying that. He was able to overcome so many injuries to key players over the course of the season, including a season-ending one to the guy who would have been the league MVP, Carson Wentz. He learned a lot from his mistakes in 2016 and became a great and fearless play caller, being aggressive and constantly willing to go for it on 4th down. That type of confidence trickles down to the whole team. There are a ton of other things he did so well that I could mention, and that’s why he gets the nod here over Andy Reid.
Offensive Coordinator: Marty Mornhinweg
It’s tough to pick an OC when all of the head coaches the team has had have been offensive guys, but I’m going to go with Mornhinweg over Childress. It was during Mornhinweg’s time that I felt the Eagles’ playbook and play calling really started to expand.
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Johnson
The late great Jim Johnson was as much a key to the Eagles’ success during the Andy Reid era as anyone else, including Reid himself. Johnson’s philosophy was simple: get to the QB, and he wasn’t afraid to bring as many defenders needed to do that. His blitz packages were a thing of beauty and opposing quarterbacks just didn’t know what to do at times to stop it. He was also a huge reason why Dawkins had the career he had, because he was willing to use him in so many ways. Johnson’s death is up there as one of the saddest moments I can remember as a fan.