Like a Olympic relay team needs a really good anchor to run toward greatness, every football team needs a solid runningback to reach a championship.
Luckily, the Philadelphia Eagles have their man in Brian Westbrook. Sometimes.
When he is uninjured, he is arguably the best RB in the league. But any good defense will guard Westbrook, who is coming off a season filled with stumbles and knee injuries. Last year, he had career-lows in rushing (4.0) and receiving (7.4) averages.
Given that reliable backup Correll Buckhalter is no longer wearing Green and White, the fate of the running game may have to sit on a rookie’s shoulders.
The 53rd pick in this year’s draft, LeSean McCoy was a star a University of Pittsburgh, where he rushed for 1,488 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Like Westbrook, he has proven that he can catch in the backfield, which is key since the Eagles are also lacking one star receiver.
In order to be the man who can truly give Westbrook the break he sometimes needs, McCoy needs to learn how to block – something he had next to no experience with at Pitt.
Even if McCoy steps up to the task, the Eagles may still struggle without one standout tight end. Much like with the wide receiver position where the team has several legitimate players (Kevin Curtis, LJ Smith, Brown, and the ever-promising DeSean Jackson), but no head-turners like 2007 Randy Moss or 2008 Reggie Wayne, the Eagles will likely rotate TEs throughout a game.
Rookie Cornelius Ingram will compete for the starting TE position with Brent Celek and Matt Schobel.
While rotating TEs may not be a clear-cut weakness, it could provide a challenge to QB Donovan McNabb as each will have their own style for their routes, making it more difficult when they go out for a pass.
The same difficulty could apply to the wide receivers -- all of whom are a different size, have different speeds, and varying levels of experience.
Yet, instead of seeing the problems with many solid players but few all-stars, many can turn to history to see the benefits. Last year, the Eagles pulled a serious comeback in the second half of the season using varying combinations of wide receivers, running backs and tight ends.
Maybe to run toward greatness, a team just needs some really good handoffs.