Philadelphia Eagles 2011: 7 Players Who Will Most Improve from 2010
Eagles Nation continues to eagerly await the beginning of free agency as there are a myriad of players that could potentially help this team reach their ultimate goal.
The Lombardi Trophy has been coveted by the "most loyal fans in sports" (Forbes magazine) for far too long, and the Eagles can be a serious contender if they sure up their defense.
We all know the names of marquee free agents like Nnamdi and Plaxico, but which players from the 2010 team need to step up and play better for this team to win it all?
Here are seven Philadelphia Eagles that will be much improved in 2011
7. Brent Celek
Many thought that Brent Celek was ready to become a star in 2010, but the Philadelphia Eagles tight end was used primarily as a blocker, and his numbers suffered accordingly. Celek is strong, fast and smart and can be a game-changer in the passing game.
With Jamaal Jackson and Danny Watkins solidifying an at times atrocious offensive line, Brent Celek will return to the pass-catching threat that enticed the Eagle's brass to sign him to a long-term extension.
Michael Vick's familiarity with the offense and the improved blocking of LeSean McCoy will give No. 87 plenty of opportunities to stretch the middle of the field in 2011. An effective Brent Celek will only make this offense more dangerous.
Eagles fans still believe that they have one of the best in the business in Brent Celek.
6. Jamar Chaney
Jamar Chaney will be much better in 2011 because he will be the starter at middle linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles from game one. Chaney burst onto the scene in 2010 after a mirage of injuries to the Eagles linebacking corps.
The injuries may have been a blessing in disguise, because Jamar Chaney is a flat-out playmaker.
He came out of nowhere as a seventh-round pick from Mississippi State to make 23 total tackles in the final two regular season games last year, including a whopping 16 tackles against the hated New York Giants.
The same Giants game where Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson created the Miracle at the Meadowlands Part II. Just thought I'd remind New York about that one.
Chaney has the kind of ball-hawking instincts and tenacity that is necessary to be an impact player in the middle.
If Chaney can stay healthy, he will easily eclipse 100 tackles in 2011.
5. Asante Samuel
Say what you wish about his tackling, but Asante Samuel is one of the best (and most valuable) cornerbacks in the entire NFL. Samuel can literally shut down an entire half of the field, regardless of who is standing across from him.
Samuel is one of the leader's of the Eagles defense and is never afraid to talk a little trash to the opposition. He is one of the most clutch players in the league, and that was a big reason why the Eagles shelled out a ton of money to acquire the playmaker via free agency.
Asante has been absolutely brilliant in the playoffs and brings true meaning to the saying that "big-time players make big plays." He has four playoff interceptions returned for touchdowns, 25 pass breakups and seven interceptions in his playoff career.
Asante started just 10 games in 2010 but had seven INT's. Look for the Eagles to add another corner and pass-rusher once free agency begins, and that will only help Samuel make more plays in 2011.
Expect another All-Pro season from Asante this season.
4. LeSean McCoy
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL in LeSean McCoy. The dynamic 22-year-old from the University of Pittsburgh clearly benefited (like everyone on the offense) from the addition of Michael Vick.
Vick's ability to keep defenses honest opened up wide, gaping holes for the elusive McCoy to burst through. Once McCoy is in the open field, he is as good as gone.
McCoy had 207 rushing attempts for 1,080 yards and seven TD's in 2010. That's right folks, McCoy averaged 5.2 yards per carry for an entire season.
He also chipped in another 78 receptions for 592 yards and seven receiving TD's.
McCoy will enter the conversation as one of the best running backs in the league with Stephen Jackson, Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson in 2011.
It's pretty special to watch LeSean McCoy's confidence grow each time he touches the ball.
3. Nate Allen
All accounts report that Nate Allen is healthy and ready to roll once (if?) training camp begins. Allen had a solid rookie campaign in which he compiled 48 tackles and three INT's in 13 games.
Just like Asante Samuel, Allen could benefit greatly from the addition of a veteran cornerback into the secondary. The Eagles could potentially have two of the youngest safeties in the NFL if Jaiquawn Jarrett gets the nod at strong safety.
The Eagles were a defense under Jim Johnson that prided themselves in getting turnovers, and Allen is the ball-hawking type of player that can help them return to those roots.
2. Juan Castillo
I was pretty clever for mentioning Juan Castillo wasn't I? Don't answer that.
Juan Castillo is ready for a starring role as the new Defensive Coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. He will have a direct correlation (as will Jim Washburn) to a dramatic turn around with the Eagles defense.
That's right, the same Juan Castillo who has coached the OFFENSIVE line for 13 years. The same Juan Castillo who has never even been affiliated with the defensive side of the ball in the NFL.
The Eagles defense will be much improved this season as a unit. A certain cornerback from the Oakland Raiders may help that, but that is for another article.
After all, how can Castillo do worse than Sean McDermott? The guy who pioneered the worst red-zone defense of all 32 NFL teams in 25 years?
Castillo was widely considered one of the best O-line coaches in the NFL, and he will use that same knowledge to attack the opposition in a variety of ways.
1. Michael Vick
That's right Dallas and New York, Michael Vick was back in the Pro Bowl in 2010. If it were not for Tom Brady having one of the greatest single seasons in NFL history, Michael Vick would have been your 2010 MVP.
Vick took huge steps forward under Andy Reid and Marty Morningwheg in 2010, evidenced by his 62.6 completion percentage. That completion percentage was more than seven points higher than any other year in his career.
Now Vick knows that he is the starter of the Philadelphia Eagles, and he has gained the trust of the locker room. He is again one of the most dynamic players in the NFL, and he will lead this team to places that no other QB in team history ever has.
It must be scary for opposing defenses to imagine an even better Michael Vick in 2011.
Here he comes!