Stat experts say Philadelphia Eagles have best defensive line in NFC East

Fletcher Cox #91, Brandon Graham #55, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Fletcher Cox #91, Brandon Graham #55, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Experts are calling the Philadelphia Eagles’ D-line the NFC East’s best.

You know the saying. People lie, and numbers don’t. Up until about the time Pro Football Focus exploded onto the scene, that statement held merit. We as Philadelphia Eagles fans or sports fans, in general, knew what a ninety-mile-per-hour fastball looked like. We could tell when a receiver or a running back eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

Those things were some of life’s moments that were obvious. They weren’t debatable. Then, the stat gurus over at PFF had to come along and ruin everything and make things difficult. As smart as some of us believe that we are, if we’re being honest, we can all agree on something. Their stuff doesn’t seem to add up sometimes.

They’ll tell you that some players outrank others when we know that isn’t true. They’ll tell you some obscure guard is having a fantastic season after he’s been abused in Week 7. We all love numbers though, and we love arguing about them. For that reason, we may never be able to leave PFF alone.

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PFF gives the Philadelphia Eagles some shine in a recent power ranking.

Here’s something “Birds” fans will find interesting. Recently, PFF ranked every defensive line in the current NFL. Not only did the Eagles top every NFC East team (yes, that includes Washington and their newly drafted prize addition, Chase Young) but they finished second-overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The rest of the top five was rounded out by Washington (third), the San Francisco 49ers (fourth), and the Green Bay Packers (fifth). Interested? You’re not alone if you are. Here’s some of what they had to say on the subject, straight from the source.

"The Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the strongest defensive lines in football for years… and they have added multiple pieces over this past offseason.(Brandon) Graham notched an impressive 67 total pressures and graded well against both the run and pass, so he will likely be a strong starter in 2020. Cox continues to be the best power-rusher in the NFL, generating more pressures over the past two seasons than any interior player not named Aaron Donald… Derek Barnett’s playing time increased last season… but he didn’t take a corresponding step forward as a player. Alongside Cox inside, the team added former Steeler Javon Hargrave, giving them an incredibly powerful interior duo…"

Much has been made about what Philly has at the defensive end position and whether someone can step up rotationally or not, but the experts aren’t worried. In their words, “Malik Jackson barely featured last season but will hope to prove he can be a significant addition and a situational pass-rusher, while the door remains open for Josh Sweat to continue to earn himself a larger role, particularly if Barnett isn’t able to make strides in his development”.

From the outside looking in, one can argue that Philly has a lot of bodies but no real answers to some very pressing questions, but that argument tends to be made by fans and members of the Philly media. Maybe that’s an accurate statement. After all, they do cover this team daily and have their finger on its pulse, but PFF has the numbers, even if we don’t understand how they come up with some of them sometimes.

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Much will need to be worked out in camp. Hey, this team does have to put a roster together before they do anything. Still, if we find out PFF was right and Philly’s turns out to be one of the top five defensive lines in the NFL, no “Birds” fan is going to complain. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s indeed what happens.