Eagles 2010 Preview (Part 1): Flapping Their Wings
As you may know, the heat of the NFL 2010 Free Agency period is under way and the looming questions have been burning this side of Broad Street like one of Pat's fresh steaks:
And they keep piling as the 2010 NFL Draft is upon us. Fitting the dire needs of some positions like linebacker, safety, running back, and both lines will be up to the front office and head coach Andy Reid. Entering his 13th year (fresh off a new 3-year contract extension), Reid may not be under fire from orchestrating the team we have today, but he may be under fire for weak playcalling, poor player-personnel decisions, and the static finishes fans have been accustomed to, devoid of any Super Bowl rings.
Will 2010 finally be the season? That's the ultimate question, and one that's echoed too much. To begin, amid the rumors swirling around quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and Michael Vick--we need this taken care of by the end of the Draft.
McNabb is the venerable leader of the club now and has carried with all his might the spirit through the good and bad. Boldly enough in my opinion, the best option for the future (and perhaps present) is to ship McNabb for valuable tradeoff. He's proven in the worst conditions that he is a winner--but maybe not with us. Surely the Minnesota Vikings are the best candidate for Donovan to don the purple, teaming with Reid's protege and Vikings' head coach Brad Childress. It's a sacrifice I'd be willing to make if I was in the front office.
From there, Kevin Kolb can takeover and prove in 2010 (his contract year along with McNabb and Vick) what the future may behold. Given, he did succeed in relief for McNabb only against a feeble Chiefs' team, but with weapons at his disposal, there's a way to test out the gun in Kolb's arm. A fresh core of receivers like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, and Brent Celek can afford to suffer one agonzing season if the Kolb experiment fails.
To touch up the offense, I'm liking the surrounding elements of the young studs, including the emerging running back LeSean McCoy. But in the times of today, every successful NFL team must have another dimension to their running game: a thunder and lightning, perhaps. The Eagles have the energetic McCoy, but we all know reassurance of a steady fallback will help. Justin Fargas from the Raiders currently has tested the free agent waters along with former Charger LaDanian Tomlinson (who doesn't need an introduction). If Andy Reid and company play it safe with Fargas, it may show a lack of confidence on the home run hit fans really want from this franchise.
Segwaying to a young, gifted offense to a young, stuggling defense...this is where the scale of power shifts in terms of the future. Overall, the whole squad may need tweaking before we have another Super Bowl rally cry. On the defensive line, ends like Darren Howard and Chris Clemons are fading from effectiveness, so the Draft is ideal for an upgrade such as Michigan's Brandon Graham or USC's Everson Griffen.
The linebackers are a soap opera all itself. From a decade of glory and disaster from Jeremiah Trotter, to the bowtie stylings of Dhani Jones, or the injury riddled careers of Shawn Barber, Carlos Emmons, or Stewart Bradley--something's gotta give. Bradley is the only current player listed, and he was supposed to anchor the defense until a torn ACL injury ended his 2009 before it started. On the sides, Will Witherspoon was released, and we have remaining Moise Fokou, Akeem Jordan, Chris Gocong, or Omar Gaither. I'm starting to get numb thinking about how flat this LB core is. It's highly needed for the Eagles to invest on a difference-maker here.
The one difference-maker that stood out and rampaged offenses for the 2000's was safety Brian Dawkins. Now in a new decade, fans are still clinging on to the No. 20, because any drunken slob wearing it could have performed better than rookie Macho Harris did in 2009. From fumbles, missed coverage, or weak tackling, Macho did not live up to his nickname.
Then, the inconsistency of Sean Jones and Quintin (Demps/Mikell) became apparent in parts of the season, as well. By signing Marlin Jackson away from the Indianapolis Colts, the Eagles get a veteran leader who shined on a Super Bowl winning team. But, his knees are as questionable as global warming coming off 2 ACL surgeries. I'd covet two premier safeties from the Draft in Earl Thomas from Texas and Taylor Mays from USC. The alternative solution may be looking out for someone like Darren Sharper, a proven leader that could be a quick jolt in 2010.
Folks, it's only March and I'm having my doubts. Side to side, it's a circus of questions and possibilities spinning my knowledge of what to do and where to go. The Eagles are at a stalemate, perhaps. Internally, the front office does not know what to do or how to pull the trigger.
They must realize that every decision will not please everyone. So, by keeping Kolb over McNabb (vice versa), roses won't be delivered to the Luries anytime soon. The logjam at quarterback may be a problem that won't diffuse in time, and the holes on defense are needed much tweaking. Compared to that Eagles' team that coughed a lung twice in Dallas, fans know that there's hunger in the Eagles' hearts...but what (metaphorically) is there to feed this team for a brighter future? Just another question I leave behind until my next article after the 2010 Draft.
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