The Eagles bye week came at the perfect time. Not only because the team could use the extra week to get healthy and watch some extra tape, but because it gives us the perfect opportunity to make our mid-season awards picks for the Birds.
Here are the category’s we’ll go through: MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Breakout Player, and most disappointing player. There’s only one rule, a player can’t win more than one award.
Let’s get into it.
MVP: Brandon Graham
At age 32, defensive end Brandon Graham is having the best year of his career. He’s recorded 7 sacks, good for third most in the league behind Aaron Donald and Myles Garrett. Graham has also racked up 25 total tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, and 11 QB hits.
He’s on pace for 14 sacks this season, which would beat his previous season high by 4.5 sacks. While Graham’s raw pass rushing numbers are impressive, what impresses me the most is that he’s done it all while playing just 67% of the defensive snaps this season. Whereas Donald and Garrett have played 86% and 79% of their defensive snaps respectively.
Graham has been the most consistent player on the entire team this year. In a year full of inconsistency all over the field, Graham deserves credit for being one of the players to bring his A game each and every week.
Offensive Player of the Year: Jason Kelce
Like Graham, Jason Kelce has been one of the most consistent players on the team this season. On an offensive line that’s been marred by numerous injuries, Kelce has played all 569 offensive snaps this season, committing only 2 penalties and allowing just 3 sacks, the 2nd least in the league according to Pro Football Focus.
Kelce often gets overlooked by the national sports media, but every Eagles fan knows just how valuable he’s been to this team over the past decade. He’s the anchor of the offensive line, even at 33 years old. In a year where the offensive as a whole has underperformed, Kelce has been a constant bright spot.
Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Slay
Fans were somewhat weary of Darius Slay‘s arrival this offseason, mostly due to the Eagles checkered past of bringing in high profile cornerbacks during the offseason. But Slay has been as advertised.
While Slay has allowed 70% of the passes thrown his way to get completed, he’s only allowed 254 yards on 29 receptions, an average 8.7 yards per reception, and none of those completions have gone for a touchdown.
He doesn’t have an interception this year, but when opposing quarterback are actively avoiding throwing your way, it’s kind of hard to rack up the INT numbers. Cornerback is one of the most thankless jobs in the NFL; when you’re not doing your job, all of the blame comes on you, but when you hold your ground and do a great job in coverage, your name rarely gets called.
Aside from my team MVP Brandon Graham, Slay has been the best player on the Eagles defense in 2020.
Rookie of the Year: Jalen Reagor
It was kind of difficult choosing a Rookie of the Year, as none of the rookies have made a huge impact this season. But I decided to go with Jalen Reagor because he’s the only rookie who’s gotten in the end zone for the Birds, and I believe we’ll see a lot more production from him down the stretch this year.
Reagor missed all but 3 of the first 8 games in 2020 with injury, so his opportunity to shine may come in the second half of the season. Nontheless, he’s been productive when on the field, tallying 8 receptions for 112 yards and 1 touchdown in 3 games played.
Expect Reagor to be the clear cut Rookie of the Year for the Eagles at season’s end.
Breakout Player: Travis Fulgham
This one was a no-brainer. Travis Fulgham came out of nowhere this year and has cemented his status as the team’s No. 1 receiver moving forward.
Since he was inserted into the lineup in Week 4, Fulgham leads the NFL in receiving yards with 435, and he’s gone over 70 yards in his last four games, the first Eagles player to do that within their first 8 games with the team. He’s also racked up 29 receptions and 4 touchdowns since starting, along with leading all receivers in fantasy points since Week 4.
Some may have thought Fulgham was a fluke initially, but it’s abundantly clear now that he’s a legit NFL wide receiver. With the countless injuries at receiver for this team in 2020, Fulgham has been the saving grace for that position group, and possibly the entire offense.
Most Disappointing Player: Carson Wentz
Like Travis Fulgham winning the Breakout Player of the Year award, this selection was also a no-brainer. Carson Wentz has flat-out sucked this year, there’s really no sugar coating it. He’s had his bright moments, like winning in San Francisco in prime time and leading an improbable 4th quarter comeback against New York.
But if we’re being honest, his awful play this season has held the team back on occasions, and it’s been obviously disappointing. Especially with the high expectations coming into the year, after leading an offense full of practice squad players to the playoffs, Wentz has regressed in nearly every category.
He leads the NFL in interceptions (12), he’s been the most sacked QB in the league (32) — some of it due to his offensive line, but he’s also held onto the ball way too long this year — he’s 31st in completion percentage (58.4%), and he’s tied for 12th in touchdown passes with 12.
It’s hard to say whether he’ll turn it around at some point this year. His team looks like they’re on their way to a division title, but his sloppy play could ultimately leave the Eagles sitting at home during the postseason. I don’t envision that happening, but it’s certainly possible if he continues turning the ball over as much as he has, with Washington just 1.5 games back of the Eagles at this point.