This is a preview of the Eagles' 2008 style of play and how different skilled players will be used.
Injuries to Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown have derailed what the Eagles appeared to be planning on doing on the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles were going to look to air things out more than last year, taking more shots downfield. The addition of Lorenzo Booker and DeSean Jackson would have allowed the Eagles to be more aggressive because their new weapons would have made second or third and long situations a little easier to convert.
Not having Kevin Curtis's overall solid wide receiver skills will force the Eagles to use the individual talents of the remaining members of the offense. Philadelphia will be forced to use Lorenzo Booker more as a slot wide receiver or pass catcher out of the backfield. He's shown an ability in training camp to get downfield, get open, and haul in passes.
Without Curtis's big play ability, Hank Baskett's jumping ability is going to be showcased. The Eagles will be forced to dink and dunk a little more than they like which means more opportunities from inside the ten yard line. 6'4'' Hank Baskett can jump real high. Like really high. Like winning his state title in the high jump high. That'll come in handy... preferably in the corner of the endzone against a 5'10'' cornerback.
Jason Avant will also prove to be an important piece to the Eagles offensive puzzle. He's not been afraid to go over the middle of the field and take a hit.
Of course then there's always Brian Westbrook. Kevin Curtis's injury will have a negative and positive affect on both the offense and Brian Westbrook. Teams are going to try to hone in on Westbrook, make him beat them. Whether this means blitzing an extra lineback or playing tighter on the edges, the Eagles have the capability to beat it.
DeSean Jackson can stretch the field if the corners play tight. Lorenzo Booker and Brian Westbrook can both get outside very easily and exploit a linebacker trapped in the middle of the field on a blitz.
The Eagles also have two in-house additions; both being dramatic improvements in health.
It's become obvious Donovan McNabb wasn't healthy in 2007. Why the world thought McNabb could come back from his injury as fast as he did and be healthy doesn't make sense. How everyone was duped that badly is hard to fathom.
That being said, McNabb looks very limber, more accurate than in the past, and still the great arm-strength. He's going to make more plays himself than he has since the Eagles run to the Super Bowl.
Of course if he doesn't stay healthy that's all going to fly out the window, but for now, it looks like McNabb is going to play very well in 2008.
L.J. Smith is also fully healthy. He's showed flashes of exceptional play over the past several seasons, but injuries have hampered his development. Smith can be a top five or six tight end in the NFL. He's got good hands, has improved his ability to secure the ball, and has toughened up as blocker.
The x-factor in the entire offense could be DeSean Jackson. Rookies usually take three years to fully understand and operate in Andy Reid's offense. Most wide receivers can't stick it out with the Eagles that long and that's why the Birds haven't developed a good WR in eons.
According to the staff and fellow teammates, Jackson is a very smart fellow. He's shown that early as he's been one of the better wide receivers across the league during the preseason.
He's shown a toughness to go over the middle, the precision to run his routes perfectly, and the speed to beat almost anyone downfield.
This offense could come down to his play. He excels and shows superstar capability this offense is going to take off. He plays well, the offense will be good, but nothing special. If he shows why he's a rookie and falls into the trend of past Eagles' rookie wide receivers, this offense could really struggle while Kevin Curtis is out.