PHILADELPHIA — Editor's note: The above video is from May 13.
For the first time in a long time, it feels like the Philadelphia Eagles have a really good defense on paper.
It's as if it could be the strength of the team that they might be able to win because of, rather than just win with or in spite of.
That is in large part due to the long awaited investments general manager Howie Roseman has made for this unit throughout the 2022 offseason.
In the last four offseasons between 2018 and 2021, it felt like the team's defense consistently took a back seat to the offense when it comes to the amount of moves the Eagles were making for these units through free agency, trades, and the draft.
In those four drafts, Philadelphia spent all eight picks in the first two rounds on offensive prospects. The highest selections they made on defense were two third round picks in 2020 and 2021 with LB Davion Taylor and DT Milton Williams.
The team focused on building around Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts, adding protection on the offensive line, and trying over and over (and over) again to get competent weapons.
While you could justify this was the right approach as the Eagles offense now has young, star talent at almost every position, the defense had to mostly settle for already established core pieces, and bargain free agent signings that a majority of the time didn’t work out.
The defense was never the worst in the league, and they had their bright spots thanks to the tenured stars like Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Malcom Jenkins, but they were rarely a top unit that opposing offenses feared. They were older and slower, with glaring holes especially on the second and third level.
That doesn’t feel like it is going to be the case in 2022.
Roseman and the front office have made a much bigger effort in bringing in difference makers on defense: players with youth, speed, and that fit the scheme.
When was the last time the Eagles had an offseason where they added the potential of five players like Haason Reddick, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Kyzir White, and James Bradberry?
That haul is one of the most productive pass-rushers of the last two years, a unicorn, generational defensive tackle prospect, a first-round linebacker talent, another explosive linebacker coming off of a career-year, and a former Pro Bowl cornerback.
Since when has the team made such additions? Has it been since the “Dream Team” in 2011?
Even that group of defensive acquisitions included mostly players close to the end of their prime, nearing 30+ years old. Bradberry and Reddick are the oldest 2022 additions and they are only 28 and 27.
This is all on paper, and Eagles fans know more than any fanbase not to overhype a team in the offseason (see 2011, 2015, and 2019). However, it really does feels like there is a lot less patch work on the defensive side of the ball, and there is a real future for the unit with top-tier upside.
It's time to now walk the walk.