Skip Bayless on Around the Horn said it best when he said Michael Vick has basically been a giant band-aid for an Eagles team decimated with injuries and problems this year.
That statement couldn’t be more true.
Following Vick’s unfortunate rib injury in yesterday’s matchup against the Redskins, the Eagles’ flaws were exposed, leaving Andy Reid’s bunch vulnerable and eventually on the losing end of a 17-12 score.
Beyond the obvious issues – clock management, penalties, a quarterback in Kevin Kolb who looked petrified out on the football field, and a secondary that made its fair share of coverage mistakes – the Eagles may just not have enough talent.
If given a hypothetical opportunity to add any three players from around the NFL to the Eagles’ 53-man roster, I feel the following players would have the biggest positive impact.
1) Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets: Anyone see the Eagles’ secondary during McNabb Bowl I? It was frightening to watch. Even though McNabb ended with just 125 passing yards, the corners were beaten badly on several plays, resulting in big gains.
Revis is a shutdown corner like the NFL hasn’t seen since the days of Deion Sanders. Revis probably should have won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award last season and a case could be made that he was the MVP of the entire National Football League. Following Asante Samuel’s major concussion suffered against the ‘Skins, the Eagles need a corner who can step in and generate some plays on defense. Ellis Hobbs certainly hasn’t impressed me much. In my fantasy, Revis plays opposite Hobbs until Samuel is healthy again. As soon as Samuel can play, Revis moves Hobbs to the bench.
2) Nick Mangold, C, Jets: They say football games are won and lost in the trenches. That might be the Eagles’ biggest weakness this season. So far, the team has been unable to find an adequate replacement for Jamaal Jackson, arguably the team’s top lineman, who suffered a biceps tear in the opening week against the Packers. Philly fans saw just how important Jackson is to the team in last year’s embarrassing two late-season losses against the Dallas Cowboys. Backup Mike McGlynn just hasn’t provided the same production the Eagles were getting from Jackson. In fact, an ESPN article written after the 35-32 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 2 highlights that McGlynn had difficulty picking up blitzes and keeping track of the snap count. Every quarterback’s worst nightmare.
Enter Mangold, the league’s best center, who has earned two consecutive Pro Bowl selections and accumulated All-Pro status for his stellar blocking last season. With Kolb likely under center for the next several weeks due to Vick’s injury, Mangold should give Kolb more time to pass while making things easier on the ground for the Eagles’ ground game.
3) Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers: To say this man is an animal out there on the football field is an understatement. Matthews leads the NFL with seven sacks, including three in a 27-20 Week 1 victory over the Eagles in which he made it his personal vengeance to attack Kolb. Matthews was responsible for Kolb’s concussion that sidelined the quarterback for one week and ultimately cost him his starting spot in Philly, as of now. Adding Matthews to an Eagles’ defense that has been inconsistent this season would also help to restore a shaky secondary.
It should be noted that there are more problems on the Eagles right now than what the addition of those three players could solve but I think Revis, Mangold, and Matthews would be enough for the Eagles to earn the NFC East title.
Just missing the list were two players, notably QB Peyton Manning and OT Joe Thomas. Manning would provide instant stability to the Eagles’ quarterback position, especially with Vick out for several weeks. However, once Vick returns, either Manning or Vick would need to ride the bench (and I’m not sitting four-time MVP Manning). Ultimately Manning would just be a stopgap for several weeks until Vick is fully healthy again. His impact would be huge but I felt one of the aforementioned three players would provide more of an impact over a complete season.
I also considered Joe Thomas to take over Jason Peters’ spot at left tackle. Peters, who has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls for reasons that are unknown to me, has managed to make a living out of nursing injuries and committing penalties. Thomas is arguably the game’s best lineman and he would do a much better job of protecting the blind side of Kolb.
It’s especially tempting because offensive line has been a major issue for the Eagles this season. I really wouldn’t argue if you took Thomas as your third pick over Matthews, but I feel the upgrade from Akeem Jordan to Clay Matthews is greater than Jason Peters to Joe Thomas.