2011 NFL Predictions: Predicting the Philadelphia Eagles' Starting Offense
Now that training camp has finally begun, I will be taking a look at the Philadelphia Eagles' likely starting lineup.
With some of the best skill position players in the league, most of these picks are not at all surprising. However, there are a couple of starters who are coming back from injury as well as a first-round draft pick on the offensive line.
Read on to find out who I picked to start for the Eagles this year.
Quarterback: Michael Vick
After Michael Vick's remarkable 2010 season, there was no doubt about who the 2011 starter would be.
Last year, Vick had 3,694 yards of offense (passing and rushing) as well as 30 touchdowns in only 12 starts. Extrapolated over a 16-game season, that would be around 4,800 yards and 40 touchdowns!
Unfortunately, that brings me to the big concern with Vick: Can he stay healthy for the entire season?
If he can, he will be incredible yet again with another year in Andy Reid's offense and another year to build chemistry with his receivers. If not, the backup quarterback will have to step in and play well for the Eagles to contend for the NFC East title yet again.
The Eagles traded away last year's backup Kevin Kolb. However, they also signed former Titans starter Vince Young to back up Vick. While Young is not a great quarterback, he is good enough to start for a couple of games and keep the ship from sinking. We will see how well Young develops with the Eagles coaching staff that has had a lot of success with quarterbacks.
Despite Young's presence on the team, the starting job unquestionably belongs to Michael Vick, who should continue to excel.
Running Back: LeSean McCoy
LeSean "Shady" McCoy is one of the most underrated running backs in the league. In his first year as a starter, he averaged 5.2 yards per rush, rushed for 1,080 yards and caught 78 passes for 592 yards.
McCoy is fast, quick and versatile, and he will win the starting job with ease.
The only question mark with McCoy is how often he will touch the ball. Andy Reid has a reputation for loving to throw the football, and as a result, McCoy only had 207 carries last year. The Eagles should try to get McCoy up to about 250-270 carries to effectively balance the offense.
Of course, having Michael Vick to run the football essentially gives the Eagles another running back to complement McCoy.
McCoy's backups are largely unproven since Jerome Harrison is no longer with the team, so it is important that McCoy stays healthy throughout the season.
Wide Receiver: DeSean Jackson
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is one of the most explosive players in the league, evidenced by the fact that he averaged 22.5 yards per catch last season. Jackson is also the Eagles punt returner.
The only question about DeSean Jackson is his current contract situation. There have been reports that Jackson is considering a holdout to get a new contract.
However, this situation likely won't get out of hand. The Eagles know that Jackson deserves a new contract and will reward him with one in the near future.
Once Jackson is signed, he will likely post over 1,000 yards receiving once again this year. Also, expect plenty of explosive plays as always.
Wide Receiver: Jeremy Maclin
While DeSean Jackson gets all of the hype, Jeremy Maclin has also quietly established himself as one of the best No. 2 receivers in the league.
Last year, Maclin had 964 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
Entering his third season in the league, Maclin should continue to get better, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him surpass 1,000 yards for the first time in his career next year, giving the Eagles a pair of 1,000-yard receivers.
Jason Avant will be the third receiver and is a solid complement to Jackson and Maclin. He is capable of starting as well if Jackson or Maclin gets injured.
Tight End: Brent Celek
While Celek did not quite match his 2009 success last year, he is still a solid starting tight end and an asset in the passing game.
Celek will undoubtedly be the starter this year, and should continue to be productive.
Backup Clay Harbor is decent, but he still has a long way to go before he is a starter in the NFL. Expect him to get a few catches, but Celek will get the vast majority of the snaps at tight end.
Left Tackle: Jason Peters
Jason Peters is a very good left tackle, earning a Pro Bowl selection in each of the past four seasons.
Peters is the Eagles' best offensive lineman and needs to continue to excel, since pass protection was a major concern with the Eagles last year.
Left Guard: Todd Herremans
Herremans has been the Eagles' starting left guard for the past five seasons.
He is a decent player and will likely be the starter, unless rookie Danny Watkins starts at left guard and the Eagles move Herremans to the right side of the line, which is possible.
Center: Jamaal Jackson
Having starting center Jamaal Jackson back from injury is a big deal for the Eagles offensive line.
The center position directs the offensive linemen in the various protection schemes. The Eagles blitz pickup and protection schemes were awful last year with backup Mike McGlynn playing center.
Having Jackson back will help the entire Eagles line do a better job of protecting Vick, and Jackson's size will help the Eagles running game.
Of course, Jackson's health is a big concern for the Eagles.
Right Guard: Danny Watkins
Watkins was the Eagles' first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and should start immediately since the Eagles have very few other options at right guard.
The only other possibility is that the Eagles try to bring back Nick Cole (who is a free agent) and let Watkins sit for a year. However, it does not look like the Eagles are heading in that direction.
Watkins should help shore up the Eagles' right side of the line, which was questionable at times last year.
Right Tackle: Winston Justice
A second-round pick for the Eagles in 2006, Justice is entering his third season starting at right tackle.
Justice is far from a great right tackle, but he is a decent starter and is the best option that the Eagles have. However, he has the most important job on the offensive line, since he has to protect Michael Vick's blind side (don't forget that Vick is left-handed). If Justice is a liability, it could hurt the Eagles.