Philadelphia Eagles Flying with High Expectations in 2009
Since 2001 the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the most consistent NFC teams capturing the NFC East title five times in eight seasons with a bullying defense and a more balanced offense than in the past.
Last season the Eagles reached their fifth NFC title game in eight seasons, but for the fourth time in five chances they fell short of a Super Bowl appearance.
Heading into the 2009 season, every NFL team has the lofty expectation of reaching the Super Bowl. For the Eagles its the next step to greatness, a step they have taken just twice and failed to finish each time.
With expectations growing in Philadelphia, the 2009 Eagles will look to fulfill Philadelphia fans' hunger for their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
Andy Reid heading into his 10th season with the Eagles has his sights set on yet another NFC championship game appearance and has enough firepower to do that and more.
Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will have their work cut out for them with defenses in the NFC East featuring multiple Pro-Bowlers. However, Reid has stepped up to the challenge before and been successful, and he and Mornhinweg have the personnel to do the same again this year.
Former coach of the secondary, Sean McDermott, has a tall task in front of him trying to pick up defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's spot during his indefinite leave of absence.
Johnson's defense has haunted teams all around the NFC in past seasons, and if McDermott can stir up enough schemes to drive opposing offenses half as crazy as Johnson did they'll be just fine.
The acquisition of Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is an excellent addition to a group of very capable wide receivers. With Hank Basket, Reggie Brown, Jason Avant, and the dangerous DeSean Jackson taking the sidelines and the effective Kevin Curtis in the slot, look for the Eagles to utilize all of their weapons in the passing game.
Brian Westbrook is a key weapon for the Eagles in the air and on the ground. With the addition of Pittsburgh running back LaSean McCoy helping out Westbrook in the backfield, it will allow Westbrook a breathe of fresh air and possibly less bumps and bruises come season's end.
Finally, the man who gets the blame when everything goes wrong and doesn't get enough credit when everything goes right, Donovan McNabb will have the best offensive line in front of him he's had since he joined the Eagles in 1999.
The additions of Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews strengthen an offensive line that will be relied upon heavily to open holes for Westbrook and McCoy and keep McNabb comfortable in the pocket.
The defense under the control of coordinator Jim Johnson has a been a strong point in the past for the Eagles. However, during Johnson's leave of absence, Sean McDermott will have a lot of work to do in preparing his guys for the 2009 season.
Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard have flown the nest and the secondary could be a concern for the birds in 2009, but if led in the right direction it can be a very skillful group of corners and safeties.
At linebacker they have the speed needed to bring blitzes from start to finish but lack size to create major problems in the running game. Defensive ends Juqua Parker and Trent Cole will also help in the blitz schemes aiding the unproven secondary.
Overall, the Defense has the most questions leading up to the 2009 season opener, but they have enough capable players to fit into their positions to continue with Johnson's blitz-happy schemes.
The final question would be if McDermott's schemes are as effective as Johnson's, and if they fit in as well as Johnson's did with the type of players the Eagles have built their defense around under Johnson's control.
The Eagles will head into 2009 with one of the most electrifying special teams squad in the NFC.
DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps will have some help in 2009 with the addition of Maclin. These three are a touchdown waiting to happen when they receive a kickoff or punt and will provide the Eagles with another quick scoring option.
David Akers, despite his age and injury problems, has been the definition of consistency for the Eagles in the kicking game and in 2009 he will be asked to sink as many 45-yard field goals as he can. Anything further will be a bonus, a bonus Akers is very capable of achieving.
Most importantly, for the Eagles to fulfill their expectations in 2009 they must stay healthy, especially during the season's closing months and throughout the playoffs.
The 2009 squad is stacked with talent and an endless amount of options on the offensive side with a defense, under the right guidance, that will more than hold their own on their side of the ball. The coaching staff and the bulk of the 2009 Eagles roster contains a lot of experience with playing in pressure situations.
The 2009 squad is loaded with a variety of weapons to make a deep playoff run and if the right pieces fall into place they could be looking at an opportunity to win their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
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