Philadelphia Eagles: Ranking Philly's Offensive Starters by Importance
While the prime focus of the Philadelphia Eagles offseason was to fix an atrocious defense, the offense underwent changes as well, especially the offensive line.
The O-line will feature three new members, two of them being rookies, and a major part of the team's offensive success will hinge upon it.
Anyway, I'm going to rank the projected offensive starters in terms of importance to the team.
11. Fullback Owen Schmitt
When Leonard Weaver went down with an ACL injury in Week 1, Schmitt came in and played well.
He was a nice find for Howie Roseman, as he was a strong lead blocker. Schmitt may not be a great ball carrier, but he is an adequate enough pass catcher out of the backfield.
The fullback in this offense isn't especially important to the team.
10. Tight End Brent Celek
Brent Celek's production dramatically took a tumble last season. With Vick under center, Celek was asked to block much more than in his breakout season. Celek struggled as a blocker, and those struggles carried over to catching passes.
Celek led the Eagles in drops and seemingly dropped every ball thrown in tight windows or even when he was open. He was not a reliable threat a quarterback could depend on.
I was hoping for a turnaround from a disappointing 2010 season, but Celek has dropped a few passes this preseason.
9. Left Guard Evan Mathis
The 6'5", 302-pound Evan Mathis did not fit in the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line scheme, which wanted bigger, more physical offensive linemen. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd loves athleticism and Mathis has exceeded expectations.
He won the starting left guard job, and the 29-year-old can play a tackle spot as well.
Since the start of the '09 season, Mathis has not allowed a sack in the 724 snaps he has played according to ProFootballFocus.com, who also graded him as the second-best overall lineman last year.
8. Right Guard Danny Watkins
Danny Watkins has been a major disappointment for a first-round pick, especially at the position of guard. It's understandable for rookie tackles to undergo growing pains, but it's hard to defend guards.
Watkins fits perfectly with the Mudd-type offensive lineman, as he is an athletic player who has a mean streak in him.
While a lot of the blame has to be put on Watkins for his poor play, a little help from center Jason Kelce wouldn't hurt. Kelce was too slow when helping Watkins against the Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor.
7. Left Tackle Jason Peters
How is the Eagles' best offensive lineman the seventh-most important player on offense? Well, even though Jason Peters is an elite left tackle, he isn't a blindside protector anymore. Michael Vick can see if pressure is coming off of Peters' side of the line.
Still, Peters can finally shed the overrated tag. He is one of the best left tackles in all of football. He is quick on his feet and finally showed consistency.
6. Running Back LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy ascended to stardom last season as the team's featured back.
McCoy may not have elite speed, but he has good enough agility to break open huge gains. He can run with power and run over safeties. He may have some of the best hands for a running back in all of football.
McCoy caught 78 balls last season and was one of Vick's top targets when he was pressured.
When he came out of the University of Pittsburgh, McCoy's blocking skills were poor, but last season the Eagles trusted him greatly, and he responded in a big way. McCoy was physical and smart enough to understand complex blitz schemes.
However, the Eagles don't value running attacks to warrant McCoy a higher place on this list.
5. Wide Receiver Jeremy Maclin
With Maclin out this entire preseason, it's evident that his worth to Michael Vick is enormous. Vick struggled mightily with arguably his favorite receiver.
Maclin caught 70 balls last year and was Vick's security blanket—one that Vick could trust even with imperfect throws.
He has proved to be a consistent receiver and has improved tremendously in catching the ball and running after the catch.
Next year, I'm hoping head coach Andy Reid sends Maclin on more go routes, because he certainly has the speed to burn defenders.
4. Center Jason Kelce
Now that Kelce has locked the center job down over veteran Jamaal Jackson, he has to study film on opposing defenses.
Kelce will have to lead the offensive line; he has to decipher where the blitz is coming from and point it out for Michael Vick to make a pre-snap adjustment.
Teams will especially test a sixth-round rookie with complex schemes, trying to befuddle him.
Kelce struggled in the first quarter against the Browns, missing key blocks, failing at attempting to help Watkins with Phil Taylor and even botching a snap.
The second quarter, though, showed why the Eagles believe in him. He was steady and made key blocks, especially the one that opened up the hole for Ronnie Brown's touchdown run against Cleveland in the preseason.
3. Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson is the most electrifying wide receiver in the game.
His 4.35 speed and uncanny ability to beat the defense deep almost two to three times a game usually produces a couple of wins for the Eagles.
Scouts criticized Jackson, calling him too small to make an impact on offense. Since then, Jackson has had a chip on his shoulder, making sure to prove every team that doubted him wrong.
DeSean Jackson's talent allows the offense to be elite.
LeSean McCoy sees huge lanes with Jackson drawing coverage to him.
Safeties play as far as 20 yards back to keep all the plays in front of them, opening up running lanes for Michael Vick as well.
Because of Jackson's elite playmaking skills and speed, teams usually have a safety over him, leaving one-on-one coverage for Jeremy Maclin.
A couple of seasons ago, Brent Celek had a breakout year because the middle of the field was open for him. Why? Because of DeSean Jackson.
2. Right Tackle Todd Herremans
In a span of a week, Herremans went from probably being ranked ninth on this list, all the way to second. If you have been away from Eagles news, then NEWS FLASH: Todd Herremans is the Eagles' new right tackle, his original position when entering the league as a fourth-round pick.
Todd Herremans may be the team's most underrated and consistent offensive lineman. He is not great in all facets but is solid, which could make him into a good right tackle.
The right tackle spot is obviously Vick's blind side, and Herremans play might dictate whether Vick takes a bunch of shots or not.
The pressure will be on Herremans to be a solid mainstay at the blindside position.
1. Quarterback Michael Vick
I hope I never see this picture during the season!
Do I really have to explain why Vick is No. 1 on the list? OK, fine.
The Eagles' quest for their first Super Bowl ring falls on the shoulders of Vick. He received a $100 million contract from the Eagles yesterday, and fans want to see him show his worth.
Vick will have to stay healthy for the season and portray he can read defenses.
The redemption story of Vick will probably be complete if he stands alone with a Super Bowl at the end of the season.