Over the past week, we have been taking a look back at some of the best Eagles of the 2010s by position. First up we ranked the top 10 quarterbacks of the past decade, and then it was the top 10 running backs. Next up was the top 10 receivers, followed by the top 10 offensive linemen and top 10 defensive backs. Today we are looking at the guys that are on the defensive side of the trenches -- the defensive linemen.
The Eagles have had great success defensively in the 21st century thus far and a lot of that has come from great play from the front line. They have had some amazing defensive lineman this past decade, and some are still actively contributing. Let’s go through the best defense linemen (DEs & DTs) in the 2010s.
10) Mike Patterson
Here is an oldie but a goodie. I actually forgot about Mike Patterson until I was compiling this list, then man a bunch of good memories came back to me. Even though he didn't turn out to be a 1st round superstar, this guy was always a solid presence up the middle for the Eagles during his career in Philly. It didn’t seem right to leave him off the list, so he slips in to the #10 spot. Patterson played in 115 games with the Eagles (99 starts), registering 338 tackles (28th-most in team history), 39 tackles for loss, 23 QB hits, 16.5 sacks, one interception, four forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, and one very, very long touchdown.
9) Vinny Curry
Vinny Curry never got to the level that he showed he could reach with his flashes of great play, but he always contributed for the Eagles when he was on the roster. Curry has played well in his two stints with the Birds, if he sticks around another season or two hopefully we don't notice a steep decline in his playing abilities. He has played in 100 games with the Eagles (18 starts), recording: 157 tackles, 38 tackles for loss, 75 QB hits, 27 sacks, five forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
8) Bennie Logan
Do you remember when Philadelphia was so angry we couldn’t keep him after 2016? When he went to the Chiefs with Andy Reid? He only played two more seasons and is now out of the league. Logan and Cox were a very good defensive tackle tandem that complimented each other well. He knew how to block up holes and get after the QB, which usually led to Cox or the defensive ends being able to dish out some shots. Logan, originally a 3rd round pick in 2013, played in 59 games with 51 starts with the Eagles. He ended up putting together 164 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 14 QB hits, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
7) Michael Bennett
Michael Bennet was only here one year, but boy did he step up in 2018. He manhandled a lot of offensive tackles when he saw an increase in snaps once Derek Barnett suffered his season-ending injury early that year. The only reason he isn’t still an Eagle was his contract issues. His one season showed off his dominance: 16 games played (10 starts), 34 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 30 QB hits, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles.
6) Tim Jernigan
If only he never got hurt, he had the potential to be in the top three of this list. When healthy Jernigan is everything you want in the DT -- he hits hard, he’s intimidating, he loves dishing out punishment, and there isn’t anything he loves more than hitting people on the field. He showed all those attributes during his time with the Eagles, but his healthy problems has put to his future with the team in doubt. In 28 games with the Eagles (27 starts), Jernigan has put up 41 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, and 4.5 sacks.
5) Connor Barwin
He loved his time here and we loved him right back. Barwin consistently made plays on the outside, and he was able to prove he still had some in the tank with the Eagles by making the Pro Bowl in 2014. Early in his Eagles career he was one of the more dominant players on the field, and was usually successful in his missions to get to the quarterback. Barwin started all 64 games of his Eagles career, and registered 210 tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 56 QB hits, 31.5 sacks (T-15th-most in team history), one interception, 24 passes defended, six forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
4) Chris Long
Chris Long was a significant reason why the Eagles were able to win their first Super Bowl. If he wasn’t on the team, they do not make that magical season happen in 2017. His biggest play came in the NFC Championship, where he hit Case Keenum's arm and chest as he threw the ball to Patrick Robinson for his pick-six; that played gave the Eagles all the momentum they needed to romp the Vikings. He wasn’t the most physically dominating player on the field, but he was always one of the smartest. He made things happen all the time on the field even if they didn't show up on the stat sheet, and delivered key plays when it was needed the most. In 32 games (one start), Long recorded 51 tackles, five tackles for loss, 38 QB hits, 11.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles.
3) Trent Cole
This man was a dominate force of nature for the Eagles for years. Even after he left and went to the Colts, his impact here was cemented. Trent Cole was one of the best defensive ends the Eagles have ever had, and Eagles fans need to keep him in mind whenever they talk about best defensive players in this franchise's storied history. Cole played in 155 games with the Eagles (11th-most in team history) and started 145 of those games. He accumulated 569 tackles (9th-most in team history), 124 tackles for loss (most in team history), 149 QB hits, 85.5 sacks (2nd-most in team history), one interception (which was a pick-six), 19 forced fumbles (3rd-most in team history), three fumble recoveries, and one safety.
2) Brandon Graham
It was a slow start, but the payoff has been amazing for keeping BG around. He has been, for the last four-five years, a top top defensive end in the league. Even though he likes to trash talk, his professionalism is highly respected by his teammates, opponents, coaches, and fans. Brandon Graham has a good habit of making impactful plays, especially the strip-sack of Tom Brady that sealed the first Super Bowl win in Eagles franchise history. That play alone cemented his status as a Philadelphia legend. Graham has played in 143 games with the Eagles (16th-most in team history), and started 86 of those games. He has totaled 368 tackles (22nd-most in team history), 91 tackles for loss, 107 QB hits, 51 sacks (5th-most in team history), 17 forced fumbles (5th-most in team history), six fumble recoveries, and one touchdown.
1) Fletcher Cox
Of course it’s Fletcher Cox! This man has been one of the best at his position since he came into the league in 2012. He is constantly regarded as the 2nd best defensive tackle in the league, behind only future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald. He has already cemented his legacy with the Eagles, and if he keeps his dominance up over the next few season, he can have a decent shot at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Cox has played in 125 games with the Birds (34th-most in team history) and started 119 of them. He has produced 367 tackles (25th-most in team history), 62 tackles for loss, 121 QB hits, 48 sacks (7th-most in team history), 13 passes defended, 11 forced fumbles (9th-most in team history), 11 fumble recoveries (7th-most in team history), and two recovery touchdowns (T-2nd-most in team history) .