WORD on the street is that the Eagles want to extend DE Chris Long until the end of the 2019 season, but he has yet to give the okey-doke on it. Losing Long and DE Vinny Curry in the same offseason seems like it would be a blow, despite the signing of DE Michael Bennett. While Bennett is a very disruptive player, he still can’t play two DE spots at one time.
Then again, he doesn’t need to. Fact is, DE Derek Barnett was getting Curry’s starting RDE spot anyway. What we really are replacing in 2018 isn’t Curry, but Barnett on the second wave. That’s what Bennett is for. So the right side is buttoned up already. Even before the Draft.
If Long retires, it would give DE Steven Means the opportunity to be part of the second wave. I’m not saying that Means and Long are the same, but Means has shown serious flashes (preseason and regular) over the last two years. If we have to rely on him, I wouldn’t be the least bit worried about a lack of effort or intensity, when LDE Brandon Graham came off the field.
We’re in great hands.
Of course if we lose both Long and Curry, some media pundits will tell you that the Eagles defensive line has taken a step back. They’d be dead wrong. Our dominance isn’t about star players. It’s about having players who are ideal for the scheme we run.
That’s why we can sign these declining stars. The media, lack-luster coaches, and mis-educated fans, will focus on the name. Meanwhile the Eagles can add scheme fit after scheme fit. God help the NFL if the Eagles actually added a bonafide star in their prime to this line.
No disrespect to Graham, but if the Eagles put someone like Ezekiel Ansah, or Joey Bosa, or Cameron Wake next to DT Fletcher Cox, it would be letting the NFL know that the Super Bowl ran through Philadelphia for the foreseeable future. (It would also be hella expensive!) However, if we find scheme fits, we can still be dominant without breaking the bank.
Even if Long retires, the Eagles are fine at DE. We already have Means, plus there’s a Draft coming, and there will even be a number of free agents released after that. So now… Let’s all wish Long well. Regardless of what he chooses. But I don’t want you to hang your eye. Not for a second. Chin up!
Take heart Eagles fans. No matter how this all shakes out, we will be fine.