Philadelphia Eagles: After contemplating retirement, Chris Long is on a roll

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After contemplating retirement earlier this year, Chris Long has been an absolute monster for the Philadelphia Eagles in his 11th professional season.

Has anyone had a better start to the 2018 NFL season than Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long?

Now granted, it’s only been three games, but Long has consistently found ways to impact the game while only being on the field for 53.48-percent of the team’s defensive snaps as a reserve end, often spelling Brandon Graham on the left side of the line.

In 100 defensive snaps so far this season, Long has recorded 1.5 sacks, six quarterback hits, eight quarterback hurries, and 16 tackles, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Long played a pivotal role in the Eagles’ late fourth-quarter defensive stand against the Indianapolis Colts, hitting Andrew Luck‘s arm on a potential game-winning throw.

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And to think, a few months ago Long wasn’t sure if he even wanted to play another season of professional football.

After winning his second straight Super Bowl on two different teams, Long was at a crossroads this offseason, with the possibility of him retiring from the game very real.

While this potential retirement may have influenced the Eagles to draft Josh Sweat out of Florida State in the fourth round of the draft, as well as trade for Michael Bennett, it is abundantly clear that Long’s professional football career is winding down.

After how he has performed so far this season at the tender age of 33, It’s plain to see that the second overall pick in the NFL draft may still somehow have his best football yet to play.

Currently tied for second on the team in sacks with 1.5, Long has not only reinvigorated his own play in 2018, but also helped to elevate the entire line.

In a recent interview with the Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski, Fletcher Cox credited Long for his improved play this season, detailing how Howie‘s son has helped to inspire him to work harder day-in and day-out. While many assumed that Cox would have a tougher 2018 season after losing his defensive tackle partner Timmy Jernigan to a potentially season-ending herniated-disk, Long’s relentless motor has helped to soften that blow.

It’s almost like Long is a perfect fit for Jim Schwartz‘s wide-nine 4-3 defense.

Over the last two seasons, Long has had a Pro Football Focus defensive rating of 84.8, almost 20 points higher than his previous career high of 65.6 back in 2013. His 2017 total of 82.0 is the third highest mark of any player on the defensive side of the ball, trailing only Cox, Rasul Douglas (on six snaps), and Graham.

While this could all be directly linked to facing off against less effective right tackles snap after snap, it’s truly exciting to see a grizzled veteran like Long aging like fine wine even as he inches closer and closer to retirement. And with matchups against pass blocking deficient teams like the Giants, Cowboys, and Panthers over the next month and a half, don’t be surprised if Long has reached his 2017 sack total of five by the conclusion of Week 10.

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