2019 Eagles vs Super Bowl 52 Championship Eagles: Defensive Edition

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Defensive Tackles

The position on defense the Eagles may have the most pride in is their defensive line. Just like on offense, Philly seems to build from the inside out, prioritizing a strong defensive line. Of course, the defensive line is made up of two sets of rushers tackles and ends. Since the Eagles seem to do their best at getting depth in both these spots, let’s tackle one at a time.

For the championship-winning season, the Eagles defensive tackles consisted of Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen, and Destiny Vaeo. Cox being the biggest name of the bunch went to his third straight Pro Bowl in 2017 following a 14 game season where he put five and a half sacks, forced a fumble, recovered two, combined for 26 tackles, and got himself 17 QB hits. The proven tackle also was able to record a sack, six QB hits, and nine solo tackles in the same post-season.

Starting aside the Pro-bowl talent was Timmy Jernigan, who the Eagles acquired via trade with Baltimore. Jernigan played in 15 regular-season games in 2017 putting up 29 total tackles, two and a half sacks, and eight hits on the quarterback. Although Jernigan didn’t do much in the playoffs, he did get two hits on Brady in a Super Bowl where the Pats’ QB stayed mostly clean.

Even though Beau Allen was the third option on the interior line, the Eagles like to rotate their defensive linemen, and had Allen play in 15 games in 2017. In this season, he would secure one sack, 13 solo takedowns, and four knocks to the quarterback. Allen didn’t do much in the playoffs before hitting free agency and joining Tampa Bay where he’s playing currently.

To show how fresh Philly liked to keep their line, the fourth option, Destiny Vaeo got snaps in 11 games during the 2017 season. In his backup role, Vaeo managed to bat down a pass and bring down the ball carrier 10 times. Of course, in the playoffs, Vaeo didn’t see the field much only getting a few snaps in one game.

Out of these four defensive tackles, two of them would remain with Philly, even if one of their roles will be much different. Following a 2018 where Jernigan only played in three games due to an injury, the Eagles brought in Malik Jackson to take over the number two spot. Even with the Jackson signing, after some doubts, Jernigan ended up signing an extension to remain in Philadelphia as a most likely rotation player.

The addition of Malik Jackson bolsters the defensive line with a player two seasons removed from his first Pro Bowl. In that 2017 season, Jackson started the entire year and forced four fumbles, recorded eight sacks, 40 tackles, and 11 QB hits. Although Jackson was elected to his first Pro Bowl the following season, Jacksonville reduced his snaps which lead to a season with just 3.5 sacks and 32 total tackles.

This irked Jackson, and he didn’t scare away from letting his thoughts be heard saying “In my mind, if I’m third or fourth on the depth chart making $14.5 million to $15 million..I don’t see too much future for me in Jacksonville, I’m not trying to be a journeyman by any means. But it’s a business and soon as you try to forget that then it’s a rude awakening for sure.”

Well, Philly gave him the business he wanted and inked Jackson to a three-year deal and a spot next to All-Pro Fletcher Cox.

The Eagles wouldn’t stop at adding depth to the line, however, trading for Hassan Ridgeway during the 2019 NFL Draft. However, Ridgeway is coming off an injured season where he only played in five games. Still, as a backup for the Colts in 2017, he played on 13 games securing three sacks, five QB hits, and 14 total tackles.

Even with Jackson coming off of a down year, getting him back in a starting role should be very beneficial for all parties involved. With a stacked unit up and down the depth chart, the Eagles 2019 interior line is in an optimal position to do damage.