Eagles: Mathis, Cox, Murray Named To PFF’s Top 101 Of 2014


Earlier this week, Pro Football Focus revealed the first player on the Philadelphia Eagles that made their “Top 101 of 2014” list, which was outside linebacker Brandon Graham at 74th overall. But now that they’ve revealed almost every spot, with just the top twenty players remaining, there have been some more Eagles’ players added to their list.

Guard Evan Mathis, defensive end Fletcher Cox and running back DeMarco Murray have all been revealed as members of PFF’s prestigious list. Mathis actually took a hit compared to his ranking on their list in 2013, having dropped 52 spots from 7th overall last year to 59th overall in their 2014 rankings. Cox has never made PFF’s list and Murray made a leap from 76th overall in 2013 to 31st overall in this year’s list.

Mathis has always been a dominant player in PFF’s eyes, consistently ranking among the best guards in the NFL since joining the Eagles in 2011, according to their grading system. Mathis was their #1 rated guard in 2011, 2012 and 2013 but fell all the way down to #2 spot in 2014 despite missing nearly half the season with a major knee injury. But at 33 years old and clearly disgruntled with his contract, Mathis may not even be in Philadelphia for the 2015 season. Either way, here is PFF’s explanation for Mathis’ ranking:

"59. Evan Mathis, LG, Philadelphia Eagles (7th)Injury looked set to rob Mathis of his streak appearing in this list, but by returning in Week 10 he compiled enough snaps (608) and was so dominant (second-highest grade of all guards) that he cracks it again. Mathis again starred with his run blocking which remains as good as any in the league, earning positive grades in each of the games he appeared in.Best Performance: Week 13, PHI @ DAL, +5.6Key Stat: Graded positively in every game he completed."

Although Cox was snubbed as far as the Pro Bowl goes, everyone is starting to take notice of his ability on the field, whether he receives the proper accolades or not. At just 24 years old, there is no ceiling to Cox’s level of play, he’s gotten better and better each year that he’s been in the NFL. In 2013, he struggled a bit with the switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense but he exploded on to the scene in 2014 with a dominant season.

Cox finished 5th overall among 3-4 defensive ends but just second behind Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt in quarterback hurries, with 39 on the year. It’s clear that Cox is becoming an elite player and Philadelphia did the smart thing by excercising the fifth-year option in his rookie contract. Here is PFF’s explanation for Cox’s ranking:

"46. Fletcher Cox, ID, Philadelphia Eagles (Unranked)Only four 3-4 defensive ends would score a higher overall grade than Cox, who was the standout Eagle on their defense. Logging a frankly absurd 962 snaps, he was relentless despite what the sack numbers might say. A lot of his best work was done in the run game, where his ability to bulldoze through/over/around gaps saw many a running back met with him before they expecting.Best Performance: Week 10, CAR @ PHI, +6.4Key Stat: 35 defensive stops against the run were third most of all 3-4 defensive ends."

Lastly, Murray had a dominant season for the Dallas Cowboys behind their impressive offensive line. But it wasn’t all because of the big boys up front, Murray made plenty of plays on his own, finishing second in the league in missed tackles among running backs with 67, behind only Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch who finished with 88. Murray also finished tied for 8th in the league among running backs in yards after contact per rushing attempt and 1st in total yards after contact.

Many Cowboys’ fans believe Murray won’t have the same success with the Eagles because their offensive line isn’t as good. But the Eagles were actually the best run blocking team in the NFL by a wide margin in the past two season, according to PFF. With head coach Chip Kelly’s system, teams will be worn out by the tempo so Murray’s physical running style may do even more damage now that he’s in Philadelphia. Here is PFF’s explanation for Murray’s ranking:

"31. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (76th)Giving every opportunity to shine, Murray wasn’t going to miss out on cashing in behind the Cowboys’ stunning offensive line. Led the league in yardage, proving the standout runner during the regular season. Fell behind others because of his work in the passing game combined with the excellence of one other in the postseason. Still, tremendous year.Best Performance: Week 4, NO @ DAL, +2.4Key Stat: His 25 runs over 15 yards were most in the league by seven."

Next: Philadelphia Eagles: Can Bradford Be the Boon?

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