Due to the lockout, HBO’s Hard Knocks had to resort to a Hard Knocks: Decade of Champs highlight show. One team had to fill a vacant hole.
The Eagles became that team… the Birds signed everybody. The names Asomugha, Babin, Jenkins, Brown, Young and Smith quickly became entrenched in every Eagle fan’s head. They traded Kevin Kolb to Arizona for a second-round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
And then came the Vick six-year $100-million contract extension…the plot thickened…Is Michael Vick worth that much? Some have already proclaimed it an asinine offer, I’ll let the plot unfold and make my own decision when the season’s over.
My concerns aren’t at quarterback, it’s the offensive line that protects the quarterback. The right tackle position has become a hot potato, a fourth-round rookie is starting at center, and a 26-year-old fireman will man the right guard position (he won’t start this week).
Last year’s offensive line coach has become the defensive coordinator.
A rookie fourth-round draft choice starts at middle linebacker.
Two seventh-round draft picks (2010 and 2009 respectively) start.
The Eagles are stacking up, yet rebuilding. The hope is that all of the rookies will be able to step up. Of course, Michael Vick, the new trio of cornerbacks, the Jim Washburn-led defensive line, and the lethal receiving core have to make the inexperienced guys’ jobs easier.
All of these questions are just an introduction to the story of the 2011 Eagles.
Michael Vick: 233/372, 3,018 yds, 21 TD, 6 INT, 62.6% comp, 100 att, 626 yds, 9 TD
Six years, $100-million, that’s a nice chunk of change. Due to Tom Brady’s heroics last season, Michael Vick had to settle for the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Vick reinvented himself last year, although he did develop some bad habits by season’s end. At Virginia Tech and even in Atlanta, Vick didn’t have the best mechanics. Rarely did he set his feet, his arm angle wasn’t consistent, and he tended to throw off of his back foot. At the same time, he has one of the strongest arms in football, and his scrambling ability is unparalleled.
The Eagles coaching staff has done a tremendous job of morphing Vick into a complete quarterback.
Backups- Vince Young, Mike Kafka
Many wondered who the Eagles would replace Kevin Kolb with when he got dealt to Arizona. The Eagles inked Vince Young shortly after. Young is like Vick in terms of play-making ability, but his arm isn’t as strong or accurate.
Kafka is an accurate passer, smart but has a Chad Pennington-like arm.
LeSean McCoy: 207 att, 1,080 yds, 5.2 avg, 7 TD, 78 rec, 592 yds, 2 TD
LeSean McCoy has become a complete back, leading the NFC in receptions last season. He reads blocks very well and is very quick and agile laterally. He has the ability to make tacklers miss in space.
Ronnie Brown: 200 att, 734 yds, 3.7 avg, 5 TD, 33 rec, 247 yds
At 6’0″, Brown has a combination of strength, size and athleticism. The workhorse averaged a career-low 3.7 YPC last season.
Backups- Dion Lewis, Owen Schmidt (FB)
Lewis is small in stature, but he’s quick and makes tacklers miss.
Schmidt is primarily a blocking fullback who takes some pressure off the offensive line.
DeSean Jackson: 47 rec, 1,056 yds, 6 TD, 16 att, 104 yds, 1 TD
This man needs to get paid! Jackson is arguably the most explosive receiver in football. He can take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. Due to his blistering speed, he stretches out the defense.
Jeremy Maclin: 70 rec, 964 yds, 10 TD, 3 att, 36 yds
Maclin is a reliable receiver with sure hands. He’s not explosive, but has deceptive speed. He’s improved his route-running and is quick out of his breaks.
Backups: Steve Smith, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper
Smith and Avant are very similar. They both like to find holes in zone defenses and are reliable third-down targets.
Cooper is adept at catching the ball in traffic using his size.
Brent Celek: 42 rec, 511 yds, 4 TD
Celek stayed in on the line a lot last season due to the ineffectiveness of the offensive line. He’s a consistent and durable player.
LT Jason Peters
Peters is a powerful tackle who’s a road-grader as a zone run-blocker. He commits his fair share of penalties, but he’s a solid pass protector. He maintains good leverage and uses his powerful lower half well.
LG Evan Mathis
With Todd Herremans moving over to right tackle, Mathis gets the starting nod.
C Jason Kelce
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd likes smaller, agile lineman; that’s what the rookie Kelce is.
RG Danny Watkins
The Eagles will go with recent signee and former Colt Kyle Devan to start over Watkins this week. Watkins didn’t look good in the preseason.
RT Todd Herramans
Herramans has always been a consistent and durable player, but now he has to protect Vick’s blindside. He’s not the best in space, he’s better in confined areas.
LDE Jason Babin: 58 tack, 12.5 sck, 2 FF
It took Babin seven years and five different teams for him to finally find his niche. Babin flourished in the “wide-nine technique” of Jim Washburn last year, so, why not follow him to Philadelphia? He signed a five-year $28-million contract over the lockout shortened offseason.
In Washburn’s scheme, Babin lined up as a rusher outside of the tight end. He may not have the best moves among defensive ends, but his motor runs hot, he explodes off the snap. You have to love those guys from Kalamazoo.
LDT Mike Patterson: 37 tck, 2.0 sck
Patterson had a huge scare during training camp when he collapsed and had a seizure. He was diagnosed with a brain AVM.
On the field, Patterson provides energy. He maintains good body control and gets off the line quickly.
RDT Antonio Dixon: 30 tck, 2 sck
Dixon is a natural run-stuffer using his low center of gravity. He and Jenkins will rotate in and out.
RDE Trent Cole: 65 tck, 10 sck, 1 FF
Cole is an explosive pass rusher off the edge. He doesn’t have great size, but he understands leverage.
He’s an athlete and can drop back in a zone blitz.
Reserves: DT Cullen Jenkins, DE Juqua Parker, DE Brandon Graham
Jenkins was signed to a five-year $25-million contract over the offseason. Dixon is a run-stuffer, while Jenkins is an interior pass-rusher; they should complement each other well.
Graham will miss some games to start the season due to a torn ACL he suffered last December.
WLB Moise Fokou: 51 tck, 1 sck, 1 FF
Fokou’s a third-year seventh-round draft pick from Maryland. He’s been a nice find and is at his best defending the run.
MLB Casey Matthews: ROOKIE
There’s a lot of pressure on the fourth-round pick from Oregon. Matthews will be the leader of an already young linebacking core.
He’s done some solid things in preseason. He’s read and reacted well and played some solid coverage.
In many ways, he’s the most important player on the entire defense this season.
SLB Jamar Chaney: 42 tck, 1 FF
Chaney is a solid run-stuffer in between the tackles, but he struggles out on the edge. He’s good in zone coverage.
Reserves: Akeem Jordan, Keenan Clayton, Brian Rolle
Jordan is the lone true veteran with starting experience. Clayton is in his second year from Oklahoma, while Rolle is a rookie sixth-round pick from Ohio State.
LCB Asante Samuel: 26 tck, 7 int, 14 pd
When Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were brought in, many assumed that Asante Samuel would be traded. My answer to that: Why would they?
Samuel has fantastic instincts and ball skills. He’s not a good tackler.
RCB Nnamdi Asomugha:19 tck, 0 int, 6 pd
Asomugha is a shut-down pressing corner who throws receivers off their routes.
He’s quick and possesses fluid hips.
He simply takes away half of the field and the opposing team’s main target out of the game.
FS Kurt Coleman: 36 tck, 1 int, 2 pd
Coleman is a hard-nosed player who’s at his best when he’s making tackles in the open field. He doesn’t have great speed, but does have good instincts.
SS Jarrad Page: 12 tck, 2 int, 2 pd
Page has some good ball skills and plays with instinct, but he’s not explosive.
Reserves: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joselio Hanson, Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett
Rodgers-Cromartie has outstanding ball skills and likes to jump underneath routes. He has great speed and agility.
Nate Allen has tendinitis in his knee, but he struggled during the preseason.
Jarrett is a second-round rookie from Temple
The 2011 season will go down as one of the most memorable chapters in Eagles history. How the story ends… we’ll find that out in February. The Eagles hope to be on the road to Vicktory; hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis is the ultimate goal.
Everyone seems to be on the Rams bandwagon this week to upset Philadelphia. That's dandy and all, but how are Mike Sims-Walker, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola and company going to get open. Good luck, Mr. Bradford.
The thing to watch is Steven Jackson. How will Casey Matthews handle a barreling Jackson running full steam up the middle? Jackson needs to be held in check.
The Rams do have an underrated offensive line. Jason Brown is one of the betters centers in football, guard Harvey Dahl was brought over from Atlanta, and tackles Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold are young.
Watching defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin matching up against youngsters Saffold and Smith should be fun.
On the offensive side of things, the line is a mess. Todd Herramans is moving over to right tackle, and Danny Watkins has been benched for Kyle Devan. We might be seeing a lot of screens and short passes.
LeSean McCoy will be the key to victory this week with his pass-catching skills out of the backfield.
PREDICTION: 24-16 Phi
Wild Card Playoffs
- (3) New Orleans vs (6) Detroit (No: 41-20)
- (4) St. Louis vs (5) Atlanta (Atl: 34-20)
- (3) Pittsburgh vs (6) Baltimore (Bal: 13-10)
- (4) Houston vs (5) NY Jets (NYJ: 23-22)
- (1) Green Bay vs (5) Atlanta (GB: 41-24)
- (2) Philadelphia vs (3) New Orleans (Phi: 30-27)
- (1) San Diego vs (6) Baltimore (SD: 24-17)
- (2) New England vs (5) NY Jets (Ne: 16-10)
- (1) Green Bay vs (2) Philadelphia (GB: 27-24 OT)
- (1) San Diego vs (2) New England (SD: 26-24)
SUPER BOWL XLVI
- (1) Green Bay vs (1) San Diego (GB: 37-27)
I believe we're seeing a dynasty in the making in Green Bay. The Packers were the team of the decade in the 1960's, and, in my opinion, they'll be the team of the decade in the 2010's.
NFL MVP: Philip Rivers (SD)
NFL LEADING RUSHER: Adrian Peterson (Min)
NFL LEADING RECEIVER: Greg Jennings (GB)
DEFENSIVE MVP: Ndamukong Suh (Det)
OFF ROY: Julio Jones (Atl)
DEF ROY: Patrick Peterson (Ari)