Despite the fact that the Super Bowl has yet to be played, fans of the Philadelphia Eagles have already moved on to 2009. Questions fly and speculation swirls in regards to how the team will go about improving for next season.
There are a few things that the Eagles as a team need to focus on in order to get over the hump next year.
1.) Don’t let Brian Dawkins go
Dawkins is the emotional leader of this defense, and still has a lot of gas left in the tank. How many times this year did Eagles fans see Dawkins on the sideline getting the rest of the defense fired up?
Is that really something the team is prepared to let go; especially in a year where the talent at safety is less than ideal?
If the team wants the defense to go into next season playing with the same fire and aggression that it ended on this year, they’ll bring Dawkins back, no matter what.
2.) Strengthen the Offensive Line
The Eagles are looking at a couple of big linemen slated to be unrestricted free agents this season in Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas. Odds are the team will be without one or both of these standout players.
Fortunately the 2009 draft class is not short on quality players at this position. There are a couple of players the Eagles should look at closely to fill the voids left by Runyan and Thomas.
Jason Smith out of Baylor University is an incredible talent on the offensive line. Many consider him to be one of the top offensive line prospects in the draft.
Jermon Smith from South Carolina would also be a good fit for the team. He is a very talented player who is extremely quick on his feet. Smith is also very good when lined up at guard.
3.) Address the situation at Tight End
A year ago at this time the Eagles made the decision to use the franchise tag on tight end L.J. Smith. I wouldn’t expect the Eagles to do the same this year, and short of Smith signing on long term with the team, I wouldn’t expect to see him back next season.
So where do the Eagles go from here?
Brent Celek proved this season that he can play the position, and has the talent to become a starter in this league. If the Eagles are looking to the draft though, there a couple of top prospects that should be available for them.
Brandon Pettigrew from Oklahoma State is a top notch tight end who would make a good fit for the Eagles style of offensive.
Missouri standout Chase Coffman is also a player that would go wonderfully with the pass happy attack of the Eagles.
Either direction the Eagles choose to go, there is plenty of talent available for them to make the most of the situation.
4.) Improve the running game
There can be little doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles possess one of the greatest threats at running back in the NFL. The problem fans were faced with yet again this season though was the lack of a powerful ground attack.
The Eagles need to take a good hard look at the position and make some needed additions. Corelle Buckhalter showed he still has game left this season, but will be a free agent.
Either through the draft, or free agency, this is a position the Eagles definitely need some improvement on.
5.) Add some weapons at Wide Receiver
The options for Donovan McNabb definitely improved this season with the addition of DeSean Jackson, but it still wasn’t enough. Kevin Curtis is a reliable target, but not the type of receiver this team needs to break through to the next level.
The options through the draft are not as good as the team would like, so making an addition through free agency might be an option.
Regardless, this has been a position that has needed beefing up for years now.
Perhaps this will be the year they make the big move.