Hey yall! I'm a longtime reader and, more importantly, a huge Eagles fan! I'm looking forward to discussing the season with you guys, I've loved the commentary so far and I'm excited to become a part of it. I'm a college student and I have finals coming so I don't have time to make a solidly researched post but I would like to share a growing sentiment I've been feeling over the past couple months, mainly that I have been really regaining confidence!
The worst part of last year, for me, was going into each and every game, each and every red zone possession, even more - each and every snap, with doubt. I agree that our team isn't fully where it needs to be as of yet, but I am starting to see glimpses of confidence that will grow into that indomitable swagger that champions have. I can't wait for my weeklong expectancy to go from, "What will happen this given Sunday?" to, "How will the Eagles embarrass team X this Sunday." Like I said, maybe not yet, but I can't help but feel it coming. That being said, there are a few reasons why I feel more confident in areas that were extremely doubtful last season.
The Secondary - Unlike some posters, I really enjoy the people we have in our backfield. They aren't all elite players but they are still excellent athletes. What made me doubt them last year was not their ability, but the fact that we consistently relied on them to step up to the plate. I feel that it is very unfair to ask a specific player or group of players to be a crutch for a failing defense. That's why I am so impressed with Trent Cole, he consistently shows up at an elite level when there is no one helping him. I agree that we don't have an elite secondary, but what makes me gain confidence in them is the fact that we no longer need them to be elite players.
I believe that the moves that we have made in the off-season to improve our linebacking core and our pass rush will be enough to make our secondary lethal. When we have a linebacker who can cover a tight end, our safeties won't look as exposed and they will be able to concentrate on their assignments (I still believe covering a tight end is the biggest doubt going into this year). Adding pass rushers like Graham, Tapp, Sapp, and Te'o-nesheim will put huge pressure on opposing offenses. Even if they play at a simply respectable level, it will draw double teams away from a vicious Trent Cole. My growing confidence in the secondary, and defense, stems from this new defensive line. The 2007 Giants had a secondary composed of rookie Aaron Ross, Sam Madison way past his prime with the Dolphins, a respectable James Butler, and a decent Gibril Wilson. None of those names particularly strike fear into my heart. However -to all of our dismay- the 2007 Giant's pass rush was so dominant (ask Winston) that the secondary could be halfway decent and still get away with it (get away with it = win a championship vs the 18-0 Patriots). They went from 28th Pass D in 2006 to 11th Pass D in 2007. That's the power of a pass rush. The fact that our secondary gets beat on double moves is inconsequential if the quarterback has no time to let those routes develop. The fact that Asante likes to jump slants and hooks is encouraging if those are the only routes the opposing offenses will have time to throw. I have complete faith in Mikell, I believe Allen will be great (I just need him to be good enough), and I think Hobbs is up for the task. By the way, whats the deal with Marlin Jackson? I loved what I read when we aquired him but his name sort of fell off the planet.
Rhythm - I like Mike Vick, and I like using him, he is a weapon that we are lucky to hold. However, I really disliked some of the times that we used him. I felt that once we got into a rhythm, Reid would throw him out and try something, and we wouldn't have that rhythm anymore. It's kind of the same with Cole Hamels, the guys a great pitcher, but his head is F'd up, so he's inconsistent. When he finally gets into a groove, some kid goes out on the field, gets himself hit with a cattle prod, next thing you know there's a solo HR out on the left field fence. Way to ruin the rhythm jackass. That was a bit off topic but the point is that I very rarely saw our offense get into a groove that defenses couldn't stop. I was watching the Kevin Kolb clips that JimmyK posted a few days ago (great work by the way, I really enjoyed that) and he seemed to really get into a rhythm the way a good West Coast offense should. I feel that after a year, we can work Vick's plays into the offense more fluidly. More importantly, I hope Kolb can get a nice series of short passes going like he did in Drive 4, then hit the defense with a long strike to Desean or Maclin like in Drive 1. Jab, Jab, Jab, K.O. strike for the TD baby!
3rd and 1 - I absolutely hated seeing 3rd and 1, 4th and goal, heck even X and inches. I hated waiting for Reid to call a pass play or, even worse, hoping for a pass play so we could actually convert it. I've met Eldra Buckley a few times and he's a real nice guy, and a great special teamer, but I need a player who can just cannonball through that last inch. I liked what I saw from Weaver towards the end of last year, and I really enjoyed the Mike Bell pickup. From what I have seen, Charles Scott is the answer to my prayers. He looks like the kind of no-nonsense, try to stop me kinda player, and I love that. He hits the hole with confidence. I cannot wait until I see 3rd and 1, or 4th and Goal, and confidently smile with anticipation because I know, you know, and the defense knows, whats coming and they can't stop it. 1st down Eagles.
Punting - I don't know if anyone else had an issue with this, but I felt really nervous almost every time we punted the ball. I want consistency. I used to not care if we punted because I understand that football is a game of field position, we don't need to score every possesion, and we have defenders for a reason. I just want to have confidence that the ball will be at least 40-50 yards down the field after 4-5 seconds in the air. I believe Bobby April will help our punting unit with consistency and am excited to see what he does to make our special teams truly special.
That about wraps it up, for now at least. I apologize if the post wasn't up to standards or if I didn't use enough facts (I read Udalango's "Posting on BGN") just let me know. I would love any type of feedback or help, or some trustworthy resources to gather football facts. I would like to eliminate doubt with my posts and confidently contribute to the BGN team in the future, haha! Thanks yall!