Carson Wentz or Nick Foles? Thanks to Eagles' defense, it doesn't even matter


The reality is that it doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback for the Eagles because even if you put Mike McMahon out there, even if you put Vince Young out there, heck, even if you put Robert Carl Hoying himself out there, what’s on the other side of the football is spectacular.

We’ve spent so much time this summer focusing on who’s starting at quarterback it’s easy to forget just what the Eagles have on defense.

The starting secondary from the Super Bowl champs returns intact with promising Sidney Jones set to replace Patrick Robinson in the slot. 

Linebacker looks a bit thin beyond Jordan Hicks, especially this week without Nigel Bradham, but the Eagles went to a Super Bowl 14 years ago with Mark Simoneau and Keith Adams starting at linebacker. 

And the defensive line? Good luck slowing this group down. They’re absolutely loaded.

The Eagles lost some pieces from last year — Patrick Robinson, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen — but most of a top-5 unit is back intact.

Bolstered by Haloti Ngati and Michael Bennett.

This was the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense last year in terms of both points and yards allowed, and they're at least as good this year … potentially better.

They can cover. They can pressure. They can tackle.

Most importantly, they don’t give up points.

Since Jim Schwartz took over two years ago, only two defenses — the Patriots and Vikings — have allowed fewer touchdowns than the Eagles. No team in football has allowed fewer points at home since the start of the 2016 season.

Even in 2016, when Doug Pederson and the offense was still finding its way, the defense was showing signs of becoming something special.

And by crunch time last year, Schwartz had this group playing better than any defense in football.

In the 11 games leading up to the Super Bowl, the Eagles' defense gave up just 12.9 points per game. Obviously, the Patriots piled up some numbers in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, but when someone had to make a play to save the game, to save the season, Brandon Graham made a play. And then there was a parade.

I like to think Jim Johnson would love this defense and would be a huge fan of Jim Schwartz and not just because they share a similar wry wit.

This is a unit that’s relentless, that attacks in waves, that gets better as games go on. In the 14 games leading up to the Super Bowl, the Eagles only allowed 11 second-half touchdowns.

The last Eagles team to lead the NFL in defense was the 1991 group under Bud Carson. Before that, it was 1953.

This unit can be that good.

This can be a No. 1 defense.

“It doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback,” Brandon Graham said the other day. “Because as long as we don’t give up any points, the offense only has to score three.”

Like the 1991 group, with Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Seth Joyner and Clyde Simmons, with Eric Allen, with Andre Waters and Wes Hopkins, this is a group that’s got swagger, that’s got a personality.

They’re not going to just maul you, they’re going to laugh about it while they’re running off the field.

I don’t know how many games Carson Wentz will miss, although I don’t think it’ll be too many. I don’t know how Nick Foles will play, although I think he’ll be fine.

What I do know is that this defense is good enough to carry the Eagles whenever Foles or Wentz isn’t at his best. When maybe the running game can’t quite get cranked up or the receivers all have an off day at once.

It’s not always going to be pretty. They’re going to give up big plays here and there, they’re going to have off days, like they did last year against the Giants, Rams and Patriots.

But I know this: Whatever happens with Foles and Wentz, whatever happens with the offense, this defense is capable of taking the Eagles a long, long way.

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