Things were looking a little rocky for Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb in the middle of 2008, but an infamous “benching” helped turn the tide, and the Eagles finished a win away from the Super Bowl.Make that five NFC championship appearances in the Reid/McNabb era and, can we say, counting?
The offense is definitely still there, leaving the only real question to be the defense that lost some key players, as well as 68-year old defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to cancer.
And with middle linebacker Stewart Bradley’s ACL tear, the Eagles defense is quickly unwinding.
5. Can Brent Celek Get It Done at Tight End?
Celek may never be as athletic and the underwhelming L.J. Smith was, but he could end up being as reliable as Chad Lewis was.
McNabb hasn’t had a reliable, sure-handed receiver at tight end in years, and Celek proved he can bring that to the table last year.
He’s faster and more athletic than given credit for, and he is also growing as a route runner while possessing great hands.
His stats are sure to be limited with so many quality options around him, but his value can’t be ignored.
Still, an upgrade could and probably will be made. You can up-sell Celek as much as you’d like, but if New England releases one of it’s four quality tight ends (and they will), you can bet Andy Reid will take notice.
4. Will Brian Westbrook Keep His Starting Job?
For some players, the saying “age is just a number” rings truer than for others.
With Brian Westbrook, that most certainly is the case.
Despite being 30 and on the shelf after ankle surgery, Westbrook is still defined as one of the more complete and versatile NFL weapons and a fantasy God.
Wetbrook IS the Eagles offense.
While LeSean McCoy will undoubtedly claim the starting role at some point withint the next two or three seasons, there’s no reason why the still dnyamic Westbrook shouldn’t be the full-fledged starter for all of 2009.
3. Will Jeremy Maclin Supplant Kevin Curtis For the No. 2 Receiver Spot?
After signing as a free agent and putting up solid numbers of over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in 2007, Kevin Curtis missed half of 2008 with a hernia injury.
Needless to say, his two-year time in Philadelphia has received mixed reviews.
However, he’s back to full health, is still a sure-handed burner, and only sits second to second-year man DeSean Jackson.
Jeremy Maclin, on the other hand, is just as fast as Curtis, but he’s much bigger and stronger. He’s better suited to run deep routes and post routes, while Curtis is smaller and quicker, leaving him better suited for the slot.
In reality, while Maclin could end up “claiming” the two spot, the actual roles of the players probably won’t change.
2. Can the Defense Stay Elite?
The Eagles have experienced a summer of great loss on the defensive side. They’ve witnessed the passing of their legendary defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, and have also seen veterans Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard leave.
While there remain questions at safety, the front line should remain constant with pressure on the quarterback, as well as stuffing the running lanes.
However, the recent loss of Stewart Bradley could shuffle the linebacking corps, which could potentially mean disaster for a defense without a true identity.
The talent is there. The rest hangs on some leaders stepping up, as well as the coaching.
People can hang on 2008′s stats all they want, but like it or not, this will be a different Philly defense in 2009.
There was only one Jim Johnson.
1. Does Michael Vick Catapult Them to the Top?
It improves them, without a doubt, but his presence alone doesn’t mean nearly as much as all of Philadelphia thinks it does.
Jay Cutler in Chicago means something.
Brett Favre being a Viking means something.
Michael Vick as a back-up quarterback and/or Wildcat specialty? Not quite as much.
He will undoubtedly serve an explosive and important role in the offense, but it’s not like the league hasn’t heard of the guy before.
There’s no guarantee that he’l be effective as strictly a runner or receiver, and whenever he is behind center, defenses will be on high alert.
Just worry about his suspension first, then break out the wine and dream of all the salivating highlight-reel possibilities. And I do emphasize possibilities.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tags: Andy Reid, Brent Celek, Brian Dawkins, DeSean Jackson, donovan mcnabb, Eagles Defense, Eagles Offense, Jeremy Maclin, Jim Johnson, Kevin Curtis, LeSean McCoy, michael vick, Philly, Stewart Bradley
There won’t be a Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco this year.
Mark Sanchez could see his team get the playoffs, but it will undoubtedly not be because he throws for 3,000 yards and 20+ touchdowns.
There’s not going to be an Adrian Peterson, or a slew of Chris Johnson’s, Steve Slaton’s, and Matt Forte’s.
Realistically, there are only two rookie running backs worth drafting in the top five rounds.
That might even be a reach.
Wide Receivers are no different.
There are a few with a solid chance at starting, and a few more with duties in the slot almost guaranteed.
But superstars? Not even Michael Crabtree.
If you must take a chance, or are investing for a dynasty or keeper league, here’s the top five guys that could pan out, just as you’d hoped.
Honorable Mentions: Donald Brown, Shonne Green, LeSean McCoy, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin
5.Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Regardless of what some biased scouts said about him, the guy can flat-out play.
He has the hands, smarts, and body control of a dominant NFL wide receiver, and that’s exactly what he’ll be-some day.
Crabtree is still behind Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, and probably even Jason Hill.
Due to missed practices and the depth ahead of him, Crabtree is in danger of starting his rookie year as the fourth option.
He’s still been going high (eighth) round, so you may have to fight for him.
But I suggest you let someone else take that chance.
4. Brian Robiskie, WR, Cleveland Browns
If there’s any receiver who is a shoe-in to start, it’s Robiskie.
He has exceptional hands and body control, and reportedly runs routes and handles coverage like a veteran.
He may not have blazing speed, but Robiskie is vastly underrated, and projects to snag the number two spot before the season starts.
Robiskie would make for a nice steal in rounds 8 to 10.
3. Knownshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
He could very well end up being the best player on this list (this year, and beyond), but his offensive system and depth at his position really don’t suggest so.
Head Coach Josh McDaniels runs 3-4 backs at all times, and prefers the pass over the run. If Kyle Orton does well, they’ll stick to that plan, which could have Moreno falling short of 1,000 yards, despite being “the starter.”
2. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
There’s simply too much talent ahead of him for him to start right away.
Kevin Curtis has paid his dues and is still effective, while it’s unrealistic to think the electric DeSean Jackson will take a back seat to the rookie.
Maclin’s talent is off the charts, though, with excellent size, speed, and hands.
He won’t start the season as Philly’s go-to receiver, but he’s likely to send Curtis to slot duties, eventually.
1. Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Don’t buy the hype.
Tim Hightower is a failed experiment, and Arizona spent a first rounder on Wells for a good reason: to start him.
He may be eased into the role, but there’s no reason to have him sit behind the ineffective Hightower.
Hightower has a slight advantage in the passing game, but expecting that to keep Wells off the field is simply laughable.
The Cardinals aim to have a more balanced attack, and if Wells can help make that successful, he could post the best numbers of all the rookies.
Posted by Kevin Roberts Date: Saturday, July 18, 2009
Tags: adrian peterson, arizona cardinals, atlanta falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Brian Robiskie, chicago bears, Chris Wells, cleveland browns, denver broncos, Donald Brown, houston texans, indianapolis colts, Jeremy Maclin, joe flacco, Knowshon Moreno, LeSean McCoy, mark sanchez, Matt Forte, matt ryan, Michael Crabtree, Minnesota Vikings, new york jets, Percy Harvin, philadelphia eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Shonne Green, steve slaton, tennessee titans