The rookies show plenty of promise, but they have yet to perform with pads on.
Sean McDermott looks ready to oversee the defense, but he doesn't Jimmy Johnson's (get well soon) game time experience.
Although the pieces seem to be in place for another Super Bowl run, the desire for a No. 1 wide receiver is STILL a hot topic in Philadelphia.
First Anquan Boldin, then Torry Holt, then Braylon Edwards. Even Plaxico "Yosemite Sam trigger-finger" Burress was a receiver fans thought the Eagles should pursue.
Why? Because everyone thinks that one Terrell Owens is the reason the 2004 Eagles reached the Super Bowl. Let me the guy to say T.O. had NOTHING to do with the Birds playoff run that year ending with a trip to Jacksonville that season.
For starters, T.O. hasn't been in uniform for a playoff win since the 2002 season when the San Fransisco 49ers had a comeback win against the New York Giants. He's made a name for himself with regular season stats, but he's never guaranteed team success in January.
He proved his selfishness by feeling victorious after he recovered quick enough to put up big numbers in Super Bowl XXXIX. The bottom line was, unlike Moses Malone's arrival to the Sixers in 1982, the Eagles still lost the game. Unfortunately, T.O.'s "success" started a well documented controversy that ultimately led to his departure midway through the following season.
Owens may have brought an added swagger and a prime time weapon to the team, but there were numerous reasons the Eagles took an extra step after three straight conference championship losses.
These are the real reasons why. Get your popcorn ready..........
1. Brian Westbrook's health
In the previous season the Eagles still had Duce Staley, but Westbrook's value was realized when he was injured for the season against the Redskins. With Todd Pinkston and James Thrash as the starting wideouts, Westbrook was McNabb's safety valve. He stayed healthy in 2004 and was on his way to being a stud after taking over Staley's spot as the starting tailback.
2. Dorsey Levens
With Correll Buckhalter injured (again), the Eagles signed Levens to backup Westbrook. His short yardage ability was one of the keys to the Eagles red zone success, especially in the playoffs.
3. Chad Lewis
2004 was the last time the Eagles had a starting tight end NOT named L.J. Smith. Lewis was McNabb's favorite target. Unfortunately, his TD catch that sealed the NFC Championship also broke his ankle to keep him out of the Super Bowl (I believe Lewis' absence was a huge factor in the Eagles losing the Super Bowl).
4. Josh Parry/Jon Ritchie
This was the last time the Eagles had a true fullback on the roster. Thomas Tapae was okay, but Ritchie was by far the best FB the Eagles had the past decade.
5. A dominant D-line
The return of Hugh Douglas, a healthy Derrick Burgess, the signing of Jevon Kearse. Overall, the 2004 Eagles had a healthy eight man rotation of Douglas, N.D. Kalu, Burgess, Cory Simon, Darwin Walker, Hollis Thomas, Paul Grasmanis and Kearse. Ask Michael Vick how successful that line was.
6. Jeremiah Trotter
Forget the Thrash and Pinkston for a second. Remember how the Eagles run defense struggled after the let the Axe Man leave for the Redskins. In 2002, they failed rotating Levon Kirkland and Barry Gardner. In 2003, Mark Simoneau got destroyed trying to stop Deshaun Foster on his TD run in the NFC Championship. Trotter was brought back and begun the season backing up Simoneau. It took a mid season thrashing in Pittsburgh in which the Steelers ran for 252 yds for Jimmy Johnson to start Trotter in the middle. After starting only the second half of the season (sitting the final two games) Trotter STILL made the Pro Bowl. Now that's what I call impact!
7.The leagues best secondary
Many people questioned the Eagles drafting three defensive backs early in the 2002 draft when they already had Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor dominating the backfield. More questioned the Birds allowing both to leave via free agency after the 2003 season, opening doors for Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown to start. The two corners, along with safeties Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis, formed a dominating quartet that produced three Pro Bowlers (Sheldon Brown should've made it too).
With those pieces in place, the Eagles could've reached the Super Bowl without the star wideout(technically they did if you only look at playoff games). T.O. just made it look that much easier, especially when you look at how weak the NFC truly was that season.