While I do realize that FA pretty much just started and the draft has not come yet I think it would be fun to take a look at if the Eagles truly are contenders for the Lombardi this season.
In this post I'm going to go over a few things which include an overview of 2011, a look at this team right now and some pieces we should add. This is going to be a long one so please stick with me here.What happened in 2011?
We all remember 2011 pretty vividly and I think we all want what happened to change (well the bad anyway) so I'm just going to make some quick points that I feel will be important moving forward.
- The Eagles allowed 20.5 points a game (10th in the League).
- They gave up 14 more turnovers than they generated.
- Highly inconsistent.
- To much change to quickly (Many new players, coaches, scheme etc)
- The Desean Jackson situation.
- Blown Leads in the 4th, inability to close out game.
- Lack of Leadership.
- Even though the Eagles struggled at times when they were on point they looked like they did in 2010.
- Seemed to gel as the season went on.
- Finished the year with a win streak which almost landed us in the playoffs.
- Castillo seemed to find a groove and as the year went on he attempted to fix things.
- Offensive line took the form of a Demigod and began absolutely demolishing everybody.
- LeSean McCoy and that running game.
- Brent Celek returned to form.
2011 was so up and down it was hard to enjoy, the Eagles tried making changes entirely to quickly on a shortened (non-existent) offseason and attempted to rely on 2nd year players and rookies to contribute immediately which was a mistake. However as the season went on the Eagles found out who and what worked and stuck with it instead of being steadfast in their approach like in years past.
Team Overview as of right now:
Here I'm going to give my take of both the offense and defense and look at the individual units.
The offense should be more consistent and explosive this season for a few reasons. First off we found out we have an Elite RB in McCoy who honestly looks as if he's playing on an entirely different level than his opponents. Secondly we he have Desean back in the fold and I'm hoping that a happy Djax means more big plays for the Eagles... Now lets look at the breakdowns:
- Quarterback: Micheal Vick struggled a bit last season, I think the turnovers and whatnot can be partially attributed to the fact our OL looked like an overused casting net and gave him little to no time to throw the ball.. That being said in order to take the next step Vick must take care of the ball like he did in 2010 and he must stay healthy because I simply have little faith in our backups. As for the rest of the QB's I honestly don't know, Kafka is liked by the Eagles and Edwards has some experience but we honestly don't know if either of them can come in for a few games and win.
- Running Back: As of right now we only have 2 RB's on the team, McCoy and Lewis, so we'll have to add another one at some point. McCoy solidified himself as a top player in the NFL and he'll only get better (I personally think he's the best player on this team). Some of us around here are very high on Lewis but I don't want to see him playing to much because that means something bad happened, I think he's good for 4-8 snaps a game to give McCoy a breather.
- Wide Receiver: Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Cooper and Hall made for a good receiving core, however Jackson's head wasn't in it last season, Avant has seemed to peak and is getting older and Cooper/Hall haven't shown much of anything. At this point our best WR is Maclin and he will continue to grow with Jackson.
- Tight End: Celek and Harbor are a good tandem here. As I stated above Celek returned to form late last season after the OL got everything worked out and that's a major plus heading into 2012. Harbor provides us with some quality depth and is actually pretty athletic so I'm hoping he takes a big step forward this year.
- The Offensive Line: This is simply the best OL in the NFL, just add some depth.
The defense was the worst part of 2011 to me because the whole unit just seemed out of sync and nothing seemed to go our way. Every game we had a good lead teams would just run right up our throats and make us look stupid and the lack of tackling made everything 10x worse. This year if everybody tackles properly and we can stop the runs inside then we'll be in great shape.
- Safety's: Nate Allen, Jarrett, Coleman and Anderson are young talented players that being said it's become clear that Anderson's essentially a special teams player who provides little for our defense, Jarrett is unknown and unproven and Coleman is solid but unspectacular.. That leave Nate who after the 49ers game seemed to put everything together and did some good things for us. I think moving forward we need to see what we have in house and probably add a Vet to help them.
- Corners: I doubt Asante will be here next season because he's making way to much and it's time we move to Cromartie who's a younger choice. Nnamdi when used correctly is the best in the business and Hanson provides us with the flexibility to trade Asante because he's a good slot CB that being said I'd rather watch paint dry than see him line up on the outside ever again. The young depth we have is talented and will hopefully move in and contribute.
- Linebackers: They were terrible last season, the addition of Ryans helps greatly and finally gives us hope for the MIKE position however I think we need to add some OLB and have an open competition for those spots. Right now I think Chaney, Matthews and Rolle are the only guys who are worth anything outside of Ryans. (I actually think that Matthews is going to win a starting job and play very well)
- Defensive Line: Honestly they're simply animals... They're great at getting to the QB... We need to add some DT depth though.
What is needed to put the Eagles over the top?
I think it's very clear right now that the Eagles have plenty of talent and all the potential in the world however I think there are some holes that still need to be filled and some things that have to happen in order for the Eagles to play at the level we know they can.. So now here's a look at some of the holes I think the Eagles need to address:
- Outside Linebacker: I do feel like the Eagles have pieces to work with in the LB core, but after last season I firmly believe that nobody's job is safe and that everybody outside of Ryans should fight for a job.
- Strong Safety: Just like above I think that there are some pieces in place to work with but it's clear we need some help here.
- Backup Offensive Tackle: As of right now the Eagles are 1 injury (knock on wood) away from a big issue on the OL, we need not only somebody to develop but somebody who can come in and play 2-3 games on both sides of the line.
- Backup Running Back: Whether this individual is the 2nd or 3rd sting guy for us we have to add somebody who can either compliment Lewis or come in and give McCoy a break for a few plays here and there (preferably I'd like this person to be able to do both things).
- Backup Defensive Tackle: I think the Eagles need more to go with Jenkins, Patterson and Dixon so I'd like to see them bring somebody in here who can be effective in the rotation and possibly grow into a consistent starter.
- Redzone Threat: I'm not talking about Gloxico here, I just think that the Eagles should bring somebody in who can cause havoc in the Redzone. I do feel like the Eagles have a few players who can provide the help we need here on the roster but it's a matter of them getting the job done.
Free Agents we should take a look at:
- David Hawthorne, Linebacker: I know that the Eagles have a MIKE now but the good thing about Hawthorne is that he's got the ability to play on the outside and would likely be able to start at SAM or WILL Linebacker day 1 here. The added bonus with a move like this is that Hawthorne would provide some great depth for the MIKE spot so the Eagles aren't putting all their eggs in one Baskett.
- Manny Lawson, Linebacker: He actually had one of the best years of his career in the 4-3 after spending most of his career as an OLB in the 49ers 3-4 defense. He would be the SAM LB here day 1. The good thing about Manny is that he's great against the run and is decent in coverage so he'd help our run defense greatly.
- Derek Landri, Defensive Tackle: Once again I am very high on Landri, he's not a long term solution but he was very good in our rotation and was solid against the run.
- Demetrius Bell, Offensive Tackle: At 27 years old he's likely reached his peak and with an injury history he'll likely be cheap. He'd be the ideal guy to bring in for a year and backup both Peters and Herremans while we get somebody young to develop. I can see this situation happening because Bell is coming off an injury and may not find many suitors.
- Marcus Thomas, Defensive Tackle: This is a young guy who I feel would fit in with the rotation and likely be one of the guys to eventually replace Jenkins and Patterson. He's raw but played well last year for the Bronco's and I'd be very excited to see what Washburn could with him.
- Jim Leonhard, Safety: Leonhard isn't a long term answer at Safety however he could come in and provide some experience for Nate, Jarrett and Coleman and help them grow.
- Micheal Floyd, WR: I think that the Eagles will go after the best player available at #15 and if Floyd happens to be that guy then I think the Eagles will grab him. Floyd would help us out with Depth and in the Redzone where his best ability is getting those jump balls. (First Round)
- Quinton Coples, DE: Coples is the best DE in this draft and he fits what the Eagles do on defense and would likely be paired with Graham to replace Cole and Babin. (First Round)
- Luke Kuechly , LB: Luke displayed the athleticism that would allow the Eagles to draft him and be confident that he'd make a quality SAM LB and provide depth at MIKE. He'd actually make a good SAM in our scheme because of his ability to cover and stop the run. (First Round)
- Fletcher Cox, DT: I think that Cox is the best DT in this draft, not only that but he's ideal for the wide-9. This a Andy Reid type move right here. (First Round)
- Johnathan Martin, OT: Yes, we don't need a starting OT however this is a move for the future and Martin fits the scheme. (First Round)
- Alfonzo Dennard, CB: Dennard in my opinion was the better Nebraska CB a year ago than Prince was which is why I'm surprised he's not getting more attention in this draft. I think he's a guy the Eagles could move behind Nnamdi and Asante/DRC and groom to be the eventual starter. (Second Round)
- Mychal Kendricks, LB: Another guy who can play OLB along with MIKE, if we miss out of Luke I think we'll make a move for Kendricks who could potentially start at SAM day one. (Second Round)
- Dwayne Allen, TE: Allen is a big and athletically gifted TE and if he's considered the BPA by the Eagles in the 2nd I think they'll grab him. He'd help out in the Redzone and would allow the Eagles to move Celek around the formation like they did back in 2009. (Second Round)
- Brock Osweiler, QB: I think the Eagles will draft a QB they can develop for the future. Brock seems to fit that mold. (Second Round)
- Joe Adams, WR: Joe is a speedy WR who has a ton of upside, not only that but he's a dynamic returner who would likely upgrade the Kick Retuner position for us day 1. I'd look for him to eventually replace Jason Avant as the slot WR. (Third Round)
- George Iloka, Safety: George is a big safety with decent range. I think the Eagles would add him to compete for a backup spot and could possibly move him around the formation to help cover these new breed TE's that are continuing to come out. (Third Round)
- Chris Rainey, WR/RB: I think the Eagles could probably be looking at this versatile speedster to come in and pretty much play the role they envisioned Chad Hall playing. I think Rainey would be a nice pickup because he can move out to WR and turn a 5 yard slant into a 99 yard catch and run then he can return the ball and even take a few snaps at RB as a change of pace guy. (Fourth Round)
My final verdict:
I do think the the Eagles are contenders right now but they have to add some quality depth to cover themselves in the event that some major players get injured. They also need to get the in house players to step up and protect the ball and improve their production. As far as coaching goes I think we have to become balanced, McCoy won us plenty of games last season so why move away from what's working?
I'd like to know what you guys think and would like you to share your thoughts.