In 2008, the Philadelphia Eagles seemed like they would be the odd man out for the final spot in the playoffs, mainly because of a tie with the Bengals. Little did anyone know that the two other teams fighting for the spot would lose in their final games and that tie with the Bengals would leap-frog them into the playoffs where they would make yet another NFC Championship appearance.
Donovan McNabb has been saying the past couple years, “Get me the weapons, and I’ll bring home a championship.” After this offseason, all anyone can say is “Wish granted!”
McNabb is a great quarterback on the field with his strong arm and mobility, but now he will be on the next level. He has a good one-two running duo, a young but very talented receiving core, and a stone wall for a line.
If these were not enough, let’s add arguably the most talented player since the new millennium on the offensive side in Michael Vick. He is not there to replace McNabb, but to maybe be that weapon that the Eagles need to do more than just get to the NFC Championship game.
He has Tony Dungy as his mentor, Andy Reid as his coach, and McNabb to help him on the field. Reid will find a way to use him and he will only wreak havoc on the opposing defenses.
The Eagles are blessed with the most versatile back in football in Brian Westbrook. He is a tough runner, he can line up in the slot, out wide, and even at quarterback. He is 30 years old now and banged up, but that is why LeSean McCoy was drafted.
The second new weapon is a tough, local back out of Pittsburgh. He has good power and can catch the ball. This eventual successor will see 10-15 carries a game to preserve Westbrook.
These two also were given help by the front office with the addition of Leonard Weaver who is a great blocker, but like the two he can carry and catch the ball.
The receiving core has been a weakness for years, but now it is the most talented core outside Arizona. DeSean Jackson emerged as the team’s No. 1 receiver in his rookie year and showed that he can be good for years to come, as long as he keeps his ego in check.
The Eagles drafted the third new weapon to the offense in first round pick Jeremy Maclin. He has great ability at stretching the field and making big plays as he did in Missouri all last season.
Outside these two youngsters, the Eagles will have a healthy Kevin Curtis who is yet another deep threat when he is healthy. The Eagles also have a youngster in Hank Baskett who will get a final shot at proving that he can be the red zone threat the Eagles have been missing.
If the depth at receiver was not enough, the tight ends are also passing threats. Brent Celek is a sure handed tight end, but unlike L.J. Lewis he will make it through the season without getting seriously injured. The Eagles also have tight end Cornelius Ingram who has great hands and size, but he is also starting to take after Lewis as he will be out for the season.
The good times keep rolling as the Eagles line also improved like every other offensive position. The line lost long time Eagle tackle Jon Runyan and veteran Tra Thomas, so all they do is sign a beastly youngster (comparatively) in Stacey Andrews to join his brother on the right side, and in essence draft a two time Pro Bowler in Jason Peters to go on the other side.
This line will be great to watch against lines like the Giants’, but almost every other line should just become road kill, especially on goal line situations.
I’m sorry if you are sick of hearing the goods, but there is one more. The ever present David Akers is still around and still possesses one of the strongest legs in the NFL.
The Eagles are in a tough division and have to face the NFC South. But even with this schedule, the Eagles should dominate the league.
The obvious one is the baggage that will come with Vick. I do not believe it will be as bad as if he was on other teams, but chances are there will be protests and fans demonstrating.
I do believe, though, that most people will realize in time that he is not as big a monster as many believe. Plus, I do not know one other group to have around Vick than Reid, Dungy, and even McNabb who is the one who pleaded with management to get Vick to Philly.
The most depressing news recently was the passing of one of the greatest Defensive Coordinators ever, Jim Johnson. He was a master of the blitz and great at disguising his schemes. He will be greatly missed and I do expect to see his name in the Hall of Fame one day as he most certainly earned it.
The defense not only lost Johnson, but many key people especially in the secondary. Cole and Bunkley will anchor the line and control the line of scrimmage. The linebackers, led by Chris Gocong, looked strong before camp until Bradley went down and will be out for the season.
Then there is the secondary which lost another long time Eagle in Brian Dawkins and corner Lito Sheppard. Ellis Hobbs and Sean Jones were brought in to replace them and should do a fine job, but will it be good enough even with Asante Samuel?
McNabb is a top 10 quarterback. He has a great receiving core and could be a top-five fantasy quarterback very shortly.
Brian Westbrook may be banged up, but he still has a lot left in him. He can literally do everything and should be good for close to 1,000 yards rushing and 500-700 yards receiving at least.
DeSean Jackson is a No. 2 fantasy receiver, but with a year under his belt he could be a great No. 2.
Celek is a No. 2 tight end, but with so many weapons there may be no one left to cover him so keep an eye on him. Plus, he is durable which is a new feature for an Eagles tight end.
The defense is a top-five defense and is great against the run. Be warned, though, as the secondary might be susceptible to big plays.
David Akers will once again be a top-five fantasy kicker as the Eagles will put up a huge number of points.
The sleepers are Jeremy Maclin as he might surprise people with his speed, and the other is McCoy as he will see a good number of carries and has a good possibility of starting with a banged up Westbrook.
R.I.P. Jim Johnson