We’ve finished our quick look at the offensive position groups for the Washington Commanders’ three NFC East rivals. Now we move onto the defenses, beginning with the defensive lines.
Where do Commanders fall in NFC East defensive line rankings?
1. Philadelphia Eagles
Only one NFC East team has made it to the Super Bowl in the last ten years. Along with Dallas, they have had the most top half finishes in the division over that time. The way the Eagles have done it is through defense. And the strength of their team for the past decade has been their defensive line.
The Eagles do it the right way. The way the Commanders are trying to do it now. But as of right now, the Eagles still have the best defensive line in the division, and it isn’t all that close. It begins on the left side, where Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox form one of the most underrated duos in the NFL. For virtually the entire decade, these guys never missed a game, and played at a highly productive level – sacks, pressures, forced fumbles, tackles for loss. They do it all.
Graham is now 34 years old and coming off his first serious injury in a decade, and Cox is also looking back at 30. At some point, they will have to wear down. But at the dawn of 2022, I would still take them for a single game ahead of any end/tackle combo in the division. (If I’m building a team, I’m taking Messrs. Allen and Young.)
When the Eagles began worrying about the age of their team after the Super Bowl run, they started to retool. So young vets Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat now man the right side of the line. They may not be quite good as their older teammates, but Sweat is coming off his best year. They still have former edge starter Derek Barnett to provide rotation. And true to form, the Eagles grabbed the mammoth Jordan Davis, who was so dominant for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs last year, in the 2022 draft. He figures to learn from Fletcher Cox for a while and then carry on the tradition.
The Eagles defensive line wasn’t too bad last year. Now they have added Davis and have Graham healthy. They have an improving Josh Sweat. They have some decent young depth in Tarron Jackson and Milton Williams. And the only players they are missing from last year are the largely ineffective Hassan Ridgeway, and some old edge rusher who is now coaching in Washington. (I think his name is Kerrigan.)
In fact, the biggest question mark in Philly may be whether new defensive line coach Tracy Rocker can carry the mantle. I figure he can. When it comes to the D line, Philly does things right.