Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Long should be a starter for the Super Bowl

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Once a free agency afterthought, Chris Long has become a key part of the Philadelphia Eagles’ championship run, and should start against his former team.

Man, how great has Chris Long been for the Philadelphia Eagles?

After going unsigned for the first week of 2017’s NFL free agency, a conversation with former Eagles linebacker/hipster Connor Barwin convinced Long that Philadelphia and Jim Schwartz‘s wide-nine front was the place to be to remain productive in the twilight of his now decade spanning pro career.

And boy was he right.

After being largely miscast in the New England Patriots‘ multiple defensive front, and watching his defensive snaps dry out in the back half of the season, Long has had something of a career renaissance in a familiar scheme, and recorded five sacks, 19 tackles and a career-high four forced fumbles in his first season in Philly, his best season in almost half a decade. Whether it be as a rotational swing end, or occasionally as a stand-up linebacker, Long became something of a swiss army knife for Schwartz, moving around the field and even dropping into coverage on rare occasions.

Related Story: Philadelphia Eagles: Regardless of the Super Bowl, this is still Wentz’s team

More from Philadelphia Eagles

While Long’s production was impressive on the field, his off the field contributions to the City of Brotherly Love, and beyond really cemented Howie’s son into the hearts of football fans across the nation.

Whether it be his clean water charity, his charity dog mask shirts, his involvement with fellow defender Malcolm Jenkins‘ in raising awareness for criminal justice reform, or donating his entire 2017 salary to help fund scholarships for less privileged kids, Long more than almost any other player, really showed the world that football, and sports in general, can be an amazing catalyst for good.

Though I’m sure it wasn’t his intentions, Long’s selflessness helped to melt the hearts of many Philly haters across the nation, and even was recognised by the NFL for his outstanding selflessness by being named the 2018 Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP Award winner, the second straight Eagles to bring the honor back to the Novacare Center following Jenkins last season.

But as great as Long has been off the field, and he has been great, his on-field demeanor has been essential in the team’s current playoff push.

One of only a handful of players to have previously played in a Super Bowl on the team, Long has been absolutely essential to the Eagles success in January, and could very well have some virtual insight into the team’s next opponent.

While many players on the Eagles have faced off against the dastardly duo of Brady and Belichick over the years, only three, Long, LeGarrette Blount and Kamu Grugier-Hill have been TB12’s teammate, with Long having been a member of the sleeveless ones’ defensive rotation last season. Though the Patriots do run one of the more complex defensive schemes in the league, often shifting between traditional 3-4 and 4-3 concepts on a situational basis, having spent an entire season lining up against Brady one-on-one in practice every day should give the former second overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft plenty of insight to impart to his teammates, both offensive and defensive as to what to look for under the bright lights of the Super Bowl.

And believe me, this Long-Brady connection has not gone unnoticed.

Related Story: Philadelphia Eagles face another challenge in Super Bowl LII with Rob Gronkowski

At the Super Bowl media day, both Brady and Long were asking to about facing off on the games biggest stage, with the former begging the latter to ‘respects his elders’ and go easy on his former teammate, something Long laughed off.

Though it may have been a simple joke, Brady is a seriously different quarterback playing under pressure, as opposed to in games where he has time to let plays develop, just ask our very own Jake Starr, who compared previous Patriots’ Super Bowl opponents here. Simply put, if you can get Brady on the ground, you can beat the Patriots, and I think I can speak for all Eagles fans when I say we really want our the team to beat the Patriots.

This is why Chris Long, and not Vinny Curry or Derek Barnett should be named the Eagles’ starting defensive end for Super Bowl LII alongside Brandon Graham, and maybe even an honorary captain alongside Blount.

While it may be petty, and a bit of a ceremonial gesture, with the defensive end rotation more likely than not remaining unchanged for the duration of the game regardless of who starts, any little bit of posturing that can add a psychological element to that game should absolutely be capitalized on if the Eagles are to leave U.S. Bank Stadium champions, and the city of Minneapolis forever changed. And honestly, who deserves to be named captain more than Long, a player who’s truly embodied what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagles, a professional athlete, and just a generally good person.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII hype video will give fans chills

Thank you, Chris Long, and Fly Eagles Fly.