Despite the mostly negative consensus opinion concerning the Philadelphia Eagles, since the 2000 season, they've actually been one of the most successful NFL teams in terms of playoff contention. Under Andy Reid's 13-year tenure as head coach, they made the playoffs a total of nine times, including five NFC Championship Game appearances. Chip Kelly was most recently less successful, but still notched an additional playoff appearance, and two more seasons with winning records. Along the way, plenty of all-time great players have donned the midnight green. At the same time, there have also been some catastrophic failures, who have contributed to the conspicuous lack of a Super Bowl title in the franchise's history.
While the good has outnumbered the bad for the Eagles in the 21st Century, the fans in Philadelphia never forget the players that have done them wrong. There have been plenty of boos to rain down from the nosebleed seats, when the fans think these players haven't given their best effort. Conversely, the ones who left it all on the field and had success, will be praised for the rest of their lives in the City of Brotherly Love. It's a merit-based acceptance, and Eagles fans wouldn't have it any other way.
Ranked below are the 8 best and 7 worst Philadelphia Eagles players since the 2000 season.
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17 BEST: Jeremiah Trotter
For most of the Andy Reid era, the Eagles defense was consistently among the best in the league under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Trotter was the consistent anchor in the middle of the defense as a linebacker, and was a punishing tackler who also had pass coverage, and blitzing abilities. Trotter had several stints with the Eagles during the 2000s, including the Super Bowl-appearing season in 2004. All in all, he was often overshadowed by more renowned names at the time such as Brian Urlacher, but Trotter was one of the most underrated in the league at his position, and definitely one of the hallmark franchise players of the last 15 years.
16 WORST: Freddie Mitchell
For most of Donovan McNabb's tenure as Eagles quarterback, the team had difficulty putting quality receivers around him to maximize the passing game. One of the proposed solutions in the early days was drafting Mitchell in the first round of the 2001 draft. Unfortunately "FredEx" didn't live up to the hype, and never eclipsed 500 yards receiving in any of his four seasons with the team. He was generally good for one stellar catch per game, and then conspicuously absent when it mattered most (save for the infamous 4th & 26 play against the Packers in the 2004 Divisional game). In all, Mitchell was a huge bust, and unfortunately for the Eagles, the trend would continue with most of their receivers as the years progressed.
15 BEST: Terrell Owens
A notable exception to the lack of receiving talent, was of course the Eagles' acquisition of Owens for the 2004 season. With Owens as the go-to receiver, the team's offense was largely unstoppable, and was the primary reason why they went to the Super Bowl that year. For all of the issues that surrounded him off the field, there's no denying that T.O. was the star skill player that they needed to get them to the next level. Because of his infamous antics, his stay was ultimately short, but to not recognize him as one of the best talents in franchise history would be laughable. Owens was one of the best receivers in league history, and gave the Eagles offense the boost it needed to win the NFC Championship for the only time in the Andy Reid era.
14 WORST: Nnamdi Asomugha
After the Eagles signed Asogmugha as a free agent for the 2011 season, there was talk of the "dream team" in the works. The Birds had went 10-6 and achieved a playoff birth the previous season, and many thought they were a few pieces away from being a Super Bowl-contender. Asomugha was supposed to be the cornerback that ultimately allowed them to do that, having a great career with the Raiders beforehand. It didn't work out that way, and he was beaten in the passing game more times than most Eagles fans care to remember. The team as a whole floundered to a mediocre record in 2011, and a downright disastrous one in 2012, making Asomugha one of the biggest free agent busts in franchise history.
12 BEST: Brian Westbrook
Throughout the 2000s, Westbrook was the Eagles' most valuable offensive weapon. A running back who could both run effectively, and catch passes out of the backfield, he was a true dual threat. At times he provided the lone spark on an offense desperately devoid of skill players, and carried the production all by himself. Before LeSean McCoy came along, he was widely considered the best running back in franchise history, and still is by some. Without question, Westbrook was an integral part of an offense that needed his services, and without him, the Eagles wouldn't have likely had as much playoff success as they did in the Andy Reid era. He'll be forever remembered as a true all-time great of the franchise, and a top contributor.
11 WORST: Todd Pinkston
A 2nd round pick in the 2000 draft, Pinkston was slated to be the first receiver that would form a connection with McNabb after he was named the starter. Instead the slightly built, weak-looking Pinkston was often a non-factor. Unable to play the position with much physicality due to his lack of size, Pinkston struggled heavily, and never lived up to potential. He stuck around for four seasons due to a lack of better options, but he's just another name in the long list of sub-par Eagles receivers. Unable to get much separation, and a small target to begin with, Pinkston is fairly criticized as one of the trademark underachievers of the Andy Reid era. He would not be the first, nor the last to earn that title.
10 BEST: DeSean Jackson
When Jackson was drafted in 2008, he was revelation for the Eagles offense almost immediately. A heady player with elite speed, he almost instantaneously made the offense better. He burned opposing defenses at every given opportunity, establishing himself as one of the best deep threats in the league. Unfortunately, after Chip Kelly's first season at the helm, he was released outright after a career year in the name "culture", after misconstrued views on his character off the field. The Eagles receiving corps hasn't recovered since. Still, the first five years of his career provided the team with an elite receiver, and he'll go down as the second best receiver McNabb had during his time in Philly. It's just a shame that politics shortened his time with the team, as he's gone on to be productive with the Redskins in the aftermath of his departure.
9 WORST: Kiko Alonso
Another one of Chip Kelly's massive personnel failures during his one season as general manager, the Eagles traded for Alonso in exchange for LeSean McCoy before the 2015 campaign. It resulted in a disastrous season not only for Alonso, but the team as a whole, and saw Kelly get the axe before its conclusion. Individually, Alonso was an inside linebacker who couldn't tackle (try and figure that one out), and often played with a lackadaisical slant that eventually made him reviled. This one isolated season could have been looked over, if he hadn't been traded for one of the beloved players in franchise history, but that wasn't the case. Alonso was the definition of a failed acquisition, and luckily was traded away prior to the 2016 season, in a move that eventually helped the Eagles land Carson Wentz.
8 BEST: Fletcher Cox
The only currently active Eagles player on this list, Cox is legitimately a top three defensive tackle in the league right now. Whether he's playing, the run or the pass, he's almost unblockable, almost always requiring a double team of some kind to attempt to keep him at bay. The team inked him to a long-term extension (no pun intended), in the offseason, and he figures to be the best defensive player on the team for the forseeable future. He's probably the best defensive lineman the franchise has had in the last 20 years. Not since the days of Reggie White and Jerome Brown have Eagles fans seen this kind of dominance. Cox is a once in a generation-level talent, and may be looking at a Hall of Fame bid by the time his career is over.
7 WORST: Miles Austin
Brought in before the 2015 season to shore up a receiving corps that had lost (read: gotten rid of) Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, Austin was a veteran player who figured to give the position a boost. He did anything but that, and despite only playing less than half of one season with the Eagles, is one of the most hated players in franchise history. Despite consistent drops, questionable effort, and poor route running, he was also a former Dallas Cowboy, which makes his name even more reviled around the city. It's pretty obvious that he simply didn't care anymore by the time he got to the Eagles, and was so unproductive, he was released in the middle of the season. The Eagles have seen bad receivers before, but most of them at least gave a concerted effort. Austin didn't, and because of that he is almost universally hated.
6 BEST: Donovan McNabb
The consensus among fans on McNabb's career is pretty much split in half, and rightfully so. While he was a confirmed franchise QB, there were many instances where McNabb's errant play hindered the team's performance, resulting in coming up just short of the ultimate goal. On the whole of it though, McNabb was still one of the best players of his era, and deserves to be recognized for his positive contributions to the team. He's not tops on this list, but there's no denying that he often had to compensate for a poor receiving corps, and at times, questionable play calling. He had his share of blunders, but his skill set allowed the Eagles to be effective on the offensive side of the ball more often than not. While he shouldn't be relieved of all criticism, not admitting him as a top player in the franchise's history would be equally as foolish.
4 WORST: Riley Cooper
Another entry, another cringeworthy Eagles receiver. Cooper ended up being worse than most, because the team actually saw fit to give him a contract extension, on the back of his one productive season in 2013 (which occurred in large part because of DeSean Jackson opening up the rest of the field for him). In Cooper's other five seasons with the team, his numbers were nothing more than pedestrian, and his limitations became increasingly clear with the additional playing time that was given to him. He legitimately had the talent of a fringe special teams player, but the coaching staff and ownership tried to convince fans that he was so much more than that. He was released prior to the start of the 2016 season, and not surprisingly, hasn't been picked up by another team yet.
3 BEST: LeSean McCoy
In the opinion of most people "Shady" McCoy is the best running back in team history, and was the integral piece to a dynamic Eagles offense. He was a player that featured elusive cutback moves, and breakaway speed, the combination of which was extremely difficult to gameplan against. He drew comparisons to Barry Sanders, and is the franchise leader in rushing yards, despite his time in Philly being cut short by the ill-advised Kiko Alonso trade. McCoy is simply one of the best players of the last 15 years, and his skill set would have been welcomed by any team in the league. This one is a no-brainer. There probably hasn't been a better offensive player to wear an Eagles uniform in the last 20 years.
2 WORST: Bradley Fletcher
After the great Eagles secondary assembled under Jim Johnson, was ultimately disbanded, the team was in search of a new corner on the level that players like Sheldon Brown and Lito Shepherd had been in years past. Fletcher was a free agent signing in 2014, and promised to provide stability to the position, when the Eagles needed it most. As it turned out, he was awful. And not just "run of the mill" awful, we're talking an all-time bad player here. It wasn't long before his running nickname was "Burnt Toast" Fletcher, and he was getting torched by any receiver he lined up against. Simply the worst cornerback in team history, and probably the worst defensive player the Eagles have seen in a generation. In regards to Eagles football, Fletcher is the standard for "terrible", and was painful to watch during his two seasons in midnight green.
1 BEST: Brian Dawkins
Brian Dawkins is established Eagles royalty, and for a certain generation, the most revered and loved player in franchise history. He started at safety for 13 years in an Eagles uniform, and his hard-hitting, cerebral style made him an instant hit with the fans, not to mention his remarkably consistent production. A true do-it-all player, Dawkins was elite in coverage, against the run, and when needed, as a pass rusher, truly marking himself as the leader of a great defense. He was also the teams vocal and locker room leader, never silent on the sidelines, displaying a level of intensity that few who played the game have ever been able to rival. In the Andy Reid era, "Weapon X", as he was known, was the unquestioned centerpiece of a team that went to five NFC Championship games, maintaining their excellence for nearly a decade. When asked the question, who is the greatest Eagles player of all-time, most Eagles fans instinctively respond with "B-Dawk", and nothing more. As if there was another suitable answer.
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