With the 2010 season coming up relatively fast, I am very excited to get the season rolling. I got my NFL Sunday Ticket on lock, no school until January and I’ll be driving down 8 hours to Philly to watch my second live Eagles game. Needless to say, this season has me more excited than I’ve ever been.
I wanted to take a look at how last year’s squad compares to the team we’re fielding right now. It is early, and we still have a bunch of cuts to make, but I think it would be interesting to see how they compare. I’m not going to worry about roster size too much, and I’ll try to use the consensus depth chart as much as possible. We’re all very opinionated to say the least, so I’m not expecting this comparison to be the be-all-end-all. I’m thinking of doing the offense first, and I’ll get the defense down some time soon. Here we go…
2009: Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb
2010: Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Mike Kafka (rookie)
The decision to move McNabb was been discussed and debated a million times over so I won’t get into that. I’m very confident in what we have in Kevin Kolb, and I think that his skill set will mesh with our offensive philosophy very well. No one can discredit what Mcnabb has done for the franchise the past decade, and despite being 33, he still had a solid season last year. Kolb is coming into his 4th year and we got a glimpse of what he could do last year in his two starts. He has a quick release, is accurate, and seems to be comfortable in the pocket and willing to take a hit. With a full offseason practicing with the first team offense, his development and timing will only get better. I personally see the starting QB position as an increase from last year, but I definitely understand some people’s skepticism and notion that we need to see Kolb play first. I don’t want to turn this into a Mcnabb Vs Kolb issue, so I will just leave the comparison at that.
At the backup QB positions, we have none other than Michael Vick and Mike Kafka. Last year we signed Vick after most of our training camp, and he came out of shape and out of sync with the game. He has now had time to learn the offense, get his speed back (man does he look quick in the training camp videos), and work with our coaches to better himself. I think he will be a much bigger factor this year, and after a full training camp, Reid and Co. can use him more effectively. Definitely a plus from last year. As far as Kafka comes into play, I hope we don’t see him at all this year unless we’re blowing every team out of the water. I think he was a solid pick, but he needs a lot more time to develop. JimmyK posted a few notes about him looking awful at times, so he’s our future backup QB in development. We don’t need him to be more than that.
Conclusion: I want to say that the QB position improved, and I feel it has. That being said, a lot of people will bring out good points that can’t really be refuted until we see Kolb under center for more than 2 games.
Result: Equivalent to last year, or maybe a slight decrease (even though I don’t necessarily agree)
2009: Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin (rookie), Jason Avant, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown
2010: Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper (rookie), Hank Baskett, (Kelly Washington)
How exciting is it to have our top 3 receivers be young, talented, and signed long term (assuming Djax gets his next year)? The 2009 season saw Desean Jackson break out as one of the top WR’s in the league, and a person that defenses have to spend lots of time game planning around. No one could keep up with this kid, and he was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. The 2010 season will see Jackson come into his 3rd year, and the sky is the limit for him. He will only get better, and as if he needed a chip on his shoulder, I think he knows in the back of his head that he needs to put up another stellar season so that he can get himself paid very well.
Am I the only one who thinks it feels odd that Maclin was a rookie last year? It took him some time to get on the field, but it seems like the Eagles have thrown away that notion that receivers need three years to develop before they can play in this league. Maclin had a solid season showing his speed, strong hands, and ability to fight for the ball. I think I am also in the camp that believes Maclin will be more successful than Desean, but who really cares when you two young receivers with superstar potential? There were times when we never had a "true #1 receiver", and now we have two. Year two should be even better from Maclin.
The rest of our receiving corp went from good to solid over this offseason. We all know what Jason Avant brings to the table, and he looked uncoverable in the 1-on-1’s in training camp. He arguably has the best hands in the league, and will continue to be a great target, especially on third downs. Curtis was a complete nonfactor last year (6 catches, 77 yards), and he is replaced my Riley Cooper who is the undisputed Na Brown award recipient, and a guy who has looked very good in training camp. Let’s hope he puts it together, and can play a role in the regular season. Last, we have Mr. Kendra Wilkinson. We all know what we have with Hank, and he has again had another solid training camp. I don’t expect him to contribute too much, but I feel more comfortable with him stepping in if need be than I would with Reggie Brown. Kelly Washington is a wild card to make the team, but has looked like a good possession receiver. Hank + Kelly >> Reggie Brown.
Conclusion: Maclin has one year under his belt, and he should only get better. This young lineup has the potential to cause fits for defensive coordinators for the next 5+ years.
Result: Increase from last year.
2009: Brian Westbrook (8 games), Lesean Mccoy (rookie), Leonard Weaver, Eldra Buckley
2010: Lesean Mccoy, Mike Bell, Charles Scott (rookie), Leonard Weaver
What a sad day March 5, 2010 was with the release of Brian Westbrook. It was the beginning of the end for the veterans and leaders that led us to a great decade of Eagles football. That being said, Brian Westbrook was not a factor last year. He was sidelined in week 7 with a concussion, and then when he returned in week 10, he got another concussion which was basically the writing on the wall for him. Not a pretty way to go out. Lesean Mccoy stepped in as a rookie and did a relatively decent job. He broke out some runs and made a few nice plays. He danced around the pocket too much, and carried the ball like a loaf of bread. The 2010 campaign sees Mccoy come in as the unquestionable starter, and it looks like McCoy took on this responsibility with a smart head. He reported to camp having added a noticeable amount of muscle, which should definitely help with running on the inside and in pass protection. His speed seems to be intact, and he has looked very good this offseason. In an interview, he also acknowledged the fact that he danced around too much and was that he was working on just hitting the hole. Atta boy. The ball is no longer a loaf of bread either, at least until he gets into the defensive back field. I think Mccoy will show why he dominated in college, and I think will turn a few heads this season.
As far as depth goes, we are very solid. We can finally let Weaver do what he does best, and lead block for our RB’s. I think we’ll see his rush attempts decrease quite a bit, but that’s fine. I’m good with him lead blocking and catching balls. We also picked up Mike Bell for a year, and I think this was a very good addition. Despite being the 3rd RB in the depth chart for the Saints, he had the most carries due to a few injuries to the front two. Mike Bell is a big, powerful running who will be able to spell Mccoy some carries, and be a real addition to our short yardage plays. Many people look at his low YPC last year (3.8), but his job was strictly short yardage when he wasn’t starting. I also remember him running all over our team when we played the Saints. Either way, he is an addition as we had our FB as our backup RB last year.
Charles Scott is a 6th round pick this year, and he is a big bruising running back who had 18 rushing TD’s in his 2008 college campaign. I’m not sure what to make of him yet. He got stuffed a few times at the goal line in training camp, but his offensive line got absolutely no push. I’m not expecting much from him, but I think he’ll beat out Buckley without a problem.
Conclusion: Lesean Mccoy is entering his 2nd season, and we need him to come up big. Everything he has done so far has looked good, and he looks poised to be have very strong season. The extra muscle he added will also go a long way for him in pass protection.
Result: Solid increase from last year.
2009: Brent Celek, Alex Smith
2010: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor (rookie), Cornelius Ingram
Speaking of break out players, Brent Celek cemented himself as one of the top receiving TE’s last year pulling in 971 yards, and 8 TDs in his first season as a full time starter. What is not to love about Celek? He has good hands, and is impossible to bring down. I can remember quite a few plays where he would be tackled and still gain 3-4 yards before he is either pushed out of bounds or eventually dragged down. He is a monster, and has the potential to top 1000 yards with season with his BFFL Kolb behind center. I’m expecting Celek to improve on his campaign.
Alex Smith was garbage and pretty much useless last year. So our combination of Harbor and Ingram is definitely an increase. Ingram was slated as the 2nd TE at the beginning of training camp, but it seems Harbor may be on route to surpass him. Ingram was the training camp darling last year. He was pulling down everything thrown his way, he was should great speed for the TE position, and was built like an ox. This, however, ended with his second ACL tear, in the same knee, in the same amount of years. He has looked hesitant at times this training camp, and you just haven’t heard his name very much. We drafted Harbor in the 4th round, and he has looked solid this training camp. I think a heavy package with Celek and Harbor/Ingram, with Leonard Weaver, and Mike Bell with be very tough to stop in the red zone.
Conclusion: Is it crazy to think Celek will improve on last season? I don’t think so. Kolb has shown he has great rapport with Celek on and off the field, and Celek topped 100 yards in both Kolb’s starts last year. Depth wise, we also got a lot better.
Result: Slight increase with our starter, and a huge increase in our depth.
2009: Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jamal Jackson, Max Jean-Gilles, Winston Justice, Nick Cole, Stacy Andrews, King Dunlap, Mike McGlynn, Dallas Reynolds
2010: Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Nick Cole, Stacy Andrews, Winston Justice, Max Jean-Gilles, Mike McGlynn, King Dunlap, Fenuki Topuo, Austin Howard (rookie)
Offensive linemen are hard to grade in the offseason. Rather than going into depth, since there are a lot of line man, I’ll just give my thoughts on each position in general.
LT: Jason Peters has had more time to learn out offense, and understand how our line operates. Increase
LG: Todd Herremans hasn’t practiced all training camp. Reid is saying that it is all for precaution, but I am getting a little nervous. If he can play than LG will be consistent with last year, if not, then we’re in trouble. TBD
C: Jamal Jackson is a long shot to play this season having torn an ACL in the dying weeks of the NFL season last year. Nick Cole has had a full offseason at C, but there is still issues snapping the ball in shotgun and he just simply isn’t as good as Jamal. Decrease.
RG: Stacy Andrews finally gets to prove his worth this season. He was a solid tackle for the Bengals before tearing his ACL very last in the 2008 season. We signed him while he was on crutches. Nothing too much should have been expected from him last year, and he didn’t show anything either. But he is a huge man, and just needs to get his legs under him. I very much believe he will be a very good RG and will prove a lot of doubters wrong. Increase.
RT: Winston Justice, is well, Winston Justice, He had a good season last year. Nothing too special but nothing extremely bad either. It was his first season as a starter, so we’re looking for him to improve and I think he will. Increase
Depth: We lost our 6th man off the bench in Nick Cole (well we just pushed him to a starter role), and taking his spot will be Max Jean-Gilles. He had that lap-band surgery and has slimmed down a bit. We’ll see how that affects his strength and ability to hold the point of attack. Dunlap has been moved to RT, which I think is better suited for him, and Austin Howard has impressed as an undrafted OT. Tupou was sidelined last year with a bruised hang nail and will most likely make the active roster. He has looked alright in training camp, but he’s not ready to play a lot of minutes. For depth, I’d say its equivalent to last year, with a slight dip perhaps.
Conclusion: We need Herremans healthy, and Stacy Andrews playing well. This will be important because we need to give Kolb some comfort in his line. If Herremans is healthy, I think we’ll have a good line up front.
Result: Equivalent, with potential for being an upgrade.
Offense as a whole: Increase, with emphasis on clock management, sustaining drives, and high red zone efficiency.
I know it’s early to be making these predictions but I think it can be an interesting discussion. A few things will become clearer as we get through a few preseason games, but does this offense look exciting or what? We set a franchise record in points scored last season, and I think we have the potential to have our most potent offense yet. Kolb will need to build upon his two starts last year, and our line will have to gel, but could there be a better position for Kolb to start his legacy? I’m just mad excited to get this season started, and I believe our offense will be able to carry us this season, just as our defense has carried us in the past.