For a while, Eagles’ pass-rushing defensive end Vinny Curry has been one of my favorite players on the Eagles. He seems to quietly outplay most teams’ backup defensive ends, but because of the fact that he is indeed a backup, it’s hard for him to get the recognition he deserves.
Now, calling somebody the “best backup in the league” is kind of a strange compliment, and when it comes down to it, isn’t all that amazing. Yet, I truly believe he deserves this title, as well as the most underrated player on the Eagles.
Many people list run-stopping machine Fletcher Cox as the most underrated player on the team, and I can definitely understand that argument. He’s arguably the best player on their defense, and he still didn’t even make the Pro Bowl last year. This was likely due to his lower sack numbers than many defensive ends, but it’s harder for a guy like him to pile up the sacks in a 3-4 defense with guys like Trent Cole (up till now), Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin coming off the edge, who are guys that are more fit to rush the passer anyway. Recently, Cox seems to be getting more of the recognition that he deserves, so I tend to not call him very underrated anymore, especially in relation to the rest of the team.
If you’re unfamiliar with Curry’s stat line from last year, you’re missing out. He finished the 2014 season with 19 tackles, nine sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. And that was as a backup. The sack and forced fumble totals are the most important stats there. If a team’s starting defensive end finished a year with those stats, you’d have to be more than pleased. But somehow, he still remains under the radar.
I looked at the sack leaders for 2014, and I failed to find a player who didn’t start who had equal or more sacks than Curry. So just imagine, what could he do if he were a regular starter? Double that? Maybe not, but double digit sacks are almost guaranteed considering he almost got there with such limited snaps. The Eagles are all about efficiency, and that’s why Curry is such an important player on this team.
Let’s take a look at a comparison to another player on the team that comes to mind when thinking of Curry: Brandon Graham. Graham was taken high in the draft (first round, actually), but was immediately put in a backup role. In his fifth season of still being in the same role, Graham had a very productive and efficient season, totaling 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He also had eight “stuffs” (stopping a run play at or behind the line of scrimmage), which was tied for 10th in the entire NFL. To put it into perspective, J.J. Watt, the leader, had 14.
So why am I talking about Graham in relation to Curry? Simple: Graham proved himself as a worthy and efficient backup, and when it came down to it, he was chosen as the team’s next starter and got a big new contract. But until before last year, nobody really talked about Graham. He was kind of just there. I think Curry is in line for a similar situation.
Curry may be underrated at the moment, but with an increase in snaps in 2015 (which only makes sense), he should have an even better season and prove he’s deserving of a starting job. He’s quietly in a contract year, as well as Cedric Thornton, the guy who starts over him. Curry is making just $1.08 million in 2015 while Thornton will make $2.36 million. Thornton is a great player, but if Curry keeps up these stats, I think it’d be hard to justify letting Curry walk in free agency and re-signing Thornton, assuming they could only keep one.
Hopefully more people will jump on the Curry bandwagon because he definitely deserves it. There’s no player on the team that I’m more excited to see play next year to see what he can do. I think he’ll prove starter-worthy in a matter of time.
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