Philadelphia Eagles' Youth Movement Has Team Getting Younger and Getting Better
If you live to be an Eagles pessimist, an Andy Reid naysayer, or a Bird Nest defector, this offseason was terrible for your cause.
The Philadelphia Eagles made several moves in the 2009 offseason that have made them, on paper, significantly better and have sufficiently increased their chances of reaching their ultimate goal—the franchise's first Super Bowl victory. Ever.
Just take a look at that great wall of an offensive line. Along with the healthy return of guard Shawn Andrews has arrived his older and just as gigantic brother, Stacy Andrews.
It is said that he has been brought in to help in the mental state of his just as talented brother Shawn, who is recovered from injuries sustained from early last year and ready to play alongside his brother.
Either way you look at it, the signing was a win-win.
Don't let the feminine name fool you. This man is a colossal 6'7", 342 lbs., and perfect for an initial overhaul of an offensive line. The man signed as a free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals, who, by all accounts, are still maddened and disappointed that they weren't able to subscribe to his services for another season.
Along with Andrews came the addition of a giant man named Jason Peters, acquired by the Eagles from Buffalo for one of the Eagles' first round picks this year. The guy is also a monstrous 6'4", 340 lbs. and a two-time Pro Bowler.
With Peters upset with his contract, the Eagles quickly jumped at the chance to acquire the services of an additional behemoth blocker.
Leonard Weaver was also signed to give added protection to the offense. An exceptional pass and run-blocking fullback, Weaver's 6'0", 240-lb. frame gives the Eagles another giant body to hurl at the opposition to try to give their playmakers enough time to host and attend several tea parties.
You read all of those numbers. Those dimensions of height and weight. Astounding, right?
What's even more astounding—and more appealing, at least to the Eagles—was a facet previously not mentioned.
It's all about the age.
Jason Peters will be 27 when the Birds play their first game in September. Stacy Andrews will be 28. Weaver will be 26.
Compare that to the two linemen the Eagles let walk—Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan—and you would think the Eagles are in the midst of a youth movement.
So all of a sudden, to go along with a defense in its infancy, the offense has gotten younger where it needs to be. They needed to.
Runyan—although beloved in Eagles country—was 35 going on 100. His multitude of injuries caused persisting question marks about his ability to perform at a high level.
Thomas, who was a consistently good player for the Eagles for about a decade, was rising steadily in age as well. With his age at 34 going into the season, the man in charge of covering star quarterback Donovan McNabb's blind spot for all these years had gotten a little too long in the tooth.
With all the improvements, there are still questions.
The Birds drafted Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy in the draft, acquiring a playmaking wide receiver to accompany DeSean Jackson and a running back to back up the dynamic Brian Westbrook. The two should contribute nicely to the Eagles' offensive attack, bolstered by the team's newfound young, great wall.
What about the position the fans and experts have said the team has needed all along? What about that big, veteran receiver who is strong enough in the air to catch a ball with tight coverage? The guy you go to in those situations who you can rely on to get you that key first down?
The team still lacks that. Until the season starts, that position will still be a good question for leading experts to debate. Will it hold them back?
But with the Eagles' recent dedication to improving and getting younger, especially on the offensive line, the team might have solved what ails them. That should give them enough time.
In football, after all, games are won in the trenches.
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