For the past 10 years the Eagles biggest weakness has clearly been at wide receiver position. With the exception of the T.O. experiment, the Eagles have had number one receivers such as Reggie Brown, James Thrash, and others. No offense to them, but they are clearly not number 1 wide outs.
But the 2008 season has been somewhat different from this pattern. With the quick rise of rookie receiver Desean Jackson as well as strong play from Hank Baskett, the Eagles suddenly find themselves with a surplus of wide receivers.
Throughout the first seven weeks, this problem has been avoided because of injuries to starting receivers Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis. But with the bye week just past, both appear to be healthy and ready to play in week 8 against the Falcons.
Coming into the season, Brown and Curtis were the starting wrs so conventional wisdom would say they should get their jobs back. But Jackson is a game changing player who changes the entire dynamic of the Eagle offense and simply should not be taken off the field. He has 29 catches for 433 yards and 1 TD through seven games. He is also averaging 14.9 yards per catch. On the other side, Hank Baskett has been a strong upgrade from previous years with 17 catches for 244 yards and 2 TDs.
Both have been pivotal parts of an explosive dynamic offense when everyone has been healthy. But Brown has been great in his return so far with 10 catches for 163 yards in two games. And Curtis was the leading receiver for the Eagles in 2007 with 77 catches.
What should the Eagles do? Much of the talk I am hearing is to keep Brown and Curtis on the outside and put Jackson in the slot where his speed can be effective. While this might work, I feel that the offense would be better served to leave Jackson on the outside and put Curtis in the slot. Curtis was a slot receiver before he came to the Eagles with the Rams and his talents are ideally suited for the slot position in the offense. He will be able to use his speed to get open over the middle and will get a lot of passes thrown his way.
As for Jackson, he is just way too much of a threat to be taken off the field in more than one or two packages. For years the Eagles only playmaker was Westbrook but he didn't neccesary pose a threat to stretch the field in the passing game. Jackson brings that dimension to this offense. With Jackson drawing defenders downfield, Curtis and Westbrook will be free to operate underneath and Reggie Brown is always a solid target for Donovan McNabb.
Suddenly the Eagles are healthy again, but lets hope the chemistry of the offense isn't ruined by misplacing the weapons. We'll see Sunday v.s. Atlanta.