PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles are sure to open up a senior position for defensive tackles after they spent the past two days signing Linval Joseph Ndamukong Suh.
Suh is 35 and Joseph is 34. They were recruited in 2010, along with defensive end Brandon Graham. Robert Quinn, a defensive end signed by the Eagles two weeks earlier, was drafted in 2011, and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in 2012.
“We all went to the collection together,” Joseph said Thursday of him, Graham, and Suh in 2010. “Just to see these guys, be around these guys, get to know these guys, and we all know what it takes to get here. Here after 13 years and still seeing some of these guys that I came with, it’s a dream.”
Suh was the second overall pick in 2010, by the Lions. Graham went 13th to the Eagles, and Joseph was taken in the second by the Giants.
Combined, the three have 532 games of experience, 157 sacks, eight Pro Bowl selections and three Super Bowl rings.
Add them in Cox and Quinn, along with offensive linemen Jason Kelsey (2011 draft) and Lynn Johnson (2013), and running back Darius Slay (2013), and the Eagles put together the Algonquin equivalent of round table football knowledge.
There are two reasons for the elders’ madness in the Eagles: The first is experience. But this experience doesn’t mean much if they can’t play.
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Sly, for one, is convinced that Suh and Joseph can still play. Slay was drafted by the Lions when Suh became one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. The two became close friends, with Slay calling him “My OG”.
They spoke on Wednesday night, and Slay even offered Suh the house—rent free.
“He’s rich,” Sly said, “but I’m rich, too.”
Suh said on Friday that he might accept him on the offer.
“As I was already trying to tell the world, this isn’t the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s,” Sly said. “Players over thirty can still play and play at a high, high, high level. They need to get rid of the story of being old and out. Older probably (means) they can’t play at 40 – along with Tom[Brady]) … and Jason Peters.
“So the Over 30s club is really like the New Twenties.”
The other reason, of course, is that the Eagles desperately need help strengthening their run defense. They’ve given up an average of 158 yards per game on the ground in their last two games. This coincides with rookie Jordan Davis being moved to injured reserve with an ankle injury.
This dropped the Eagles to 20th in the NFL in run defense. It just so happens that the Eagles are about to take on Indianapolis’ Jonathan Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing last season and coming off a game in which he had 147 yards.
Now Taylor will have to contend with Joseph, all 335 pounds of him, at the Eagles’ defensive half, and possibly Suh, who said he hopes to play Sunday as well. “That’s up to the coaches,” he said.
But there’s another message that the rest of the NFL is getting loud and clear: The Eagles exist. So is Joseph and Suh.
It was clear when Joseph admitted he fell in despite knowing Suh was coming too. Both said they turned down other offers.
They weren’t worried about playing time. They wanted another chance at the Super Bowl.
“At this point, (the Eagles) are going to do everything they can to win and get a Super Bowl ring,” Joseph said. “Suh is a hikova player. He’s been playing for a long time, and that’s more ammunition for the fire. Once we can all come together, learn the rules of the game, and be on the same page, I feel like flying, eagles fly, and we should be able to get that done” .
Suh added, “I don’t have a problem, in any way, with playing a role. I’ve always played a role in my career, be it – as you call it – a star. But it’s also being a leader, being a man who can help others bring their talents.. .You are only as good as your weakest link.”
Joseph said he had been watching the NFL closely during his absence. He was keeping fit, waiting for the right team to call. Suh said the same thing.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say I’ll play for any old team,” Suh said. “I want to have the chance to go and earn a ring, and celebrate that with my family, especially my teammates.”
Joseph added, “I’ll always go, ‘Okay, what teams do I fit in really well?'” So I was watching the teams to see if I fit in. “Oh, the Bills? Well, let me check it out. Oh, the Cardinals? Let me check them out.”
“I’ve been watching this team here because they were 8-0 (before the loss on Monday night). I wanted to see what made them so good. Seeing that they’re so well balanced is so big.”
That is, until Davis went IR and, more recently, another defensive tackle, Marlon Tuipulotu. The earliest Davis can come back is December 4 against the Tennessee Titans, who are running back Derrick Henry.
The Eagles couldn’t wait that long. Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman didn’t want to start 8-0 and Super Bowl hopes derailed by some injuries, not when there were veterans available who could help.
“It sends a message to everyone in the locker room,” Sly said. “That’s how it’s supposed to be. Everyone’s not here just to be involved. Everyone’s trying to win a Super Bowl. Howie does a great job just making it known.”
“He won one before, so he’s trying to drop those confetti on him again. I want them, too.”
The Eagles probably aren’t finished with players drafted in 2010. The Eagles need a tight end after Dallas Goedert went to IR earlier this week, and Rob Gronkowski, who is now retired, just so happened to be caught in the second round that year.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @Mfranknfl.