Eagles Weekly Wrap-Up: What To Do About Westbrook and Is Asante a Leader?

Bob Cunningham@BCunningham215Senior Analyst IJune 5, 2009

Right now, all of Philadelphia is holding its breath to find out the true extent of Brian Westbrook's injury, how the surgery goes, and what the Eagles plan to do about it.

Well, Philly nation, don't be surprised if the Eagles don't do a thing.

Would it surprise anyone if head coach Andy Reid told the media that everyone was just fine, would be fine, and that the Eagles would not be making any moves?

Of course it wouldn't. Reid believes in the players he has, or he wouldn't have them.

The Present Running Back Situation

The Eagles have a list of guys banking on potential, which is great, but they need a veteran presence to help them along.

With Westbrook out, here are the available backs:

  1. LeSean McCoy
  2. Lorenzo Booker
  3. Kyle Eckel
  4. Walter Mendenhall

That's quite a list. Leonard Weaver can also be thrown into that mix because even though he is a fullback, he can take some carries.

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However, even with Weaver, the Eagles would be banking on two rookies and three other guys who barely qualify as veterans.

Not a position the team wants to be in.

The best option right now would be to go out and pick up a veteran guy, just to make sure and cover all their bases, but the pool of backs is small.

There are a few guys worth looking at, but only as short-term solutions, and even those guys might carry a price tag that the Eagles aren't willing pay.

Their four targets should be:

  1. Edgerrin James
  2. Deuce McAllister
  3. Warrick Dunn
  4. Rudi Johnson

Edge is certainly the best bet for this team, but he will carry a hefty price tag. I would mark him off the list because he probably has yet to come to the realization that the NFL no longer looks at him as a feature back, but he wants feature back money.

McAllister is a guy who the Eagles could have had in 2001, but decided to pass on. This would mean that the Eagles have already looked at McAllister in the past and decided he didn't fit their system, wasn't good enough, or something else.

So, mark him off as well.

Warrick Dunn is an interesting guy. He's smart, small, shifty, and can catch. That sounds like a certain running back Philly would know all about. Dunn was the Westbrook of the league before Westbrook was in the league, so he may be a viable option for the Birds in the short-term.

The knock on Dunn is that he is 34 and can't really run between the tackles anymore. He's a third down guy, but certainly would help in McCoy's progression, and take a little bit of the heat off of him.

Rudi Johnson looked, at one point, to be a guy who could be a consistent Pro Bowl player and feature back. However, after injuries and poor production, he fell out of favor in Cincinnati and was forced to the cellar of the NFL, the Detroit Lions.

He's only 29, but seems to be headed downhill, so I don't foresee the Eagles even considering Johnson.

That just leaves us with Dunn, who very well may be the Eagles best bet if Westbrook has to start the season on the PUP list.

Best Case/Worst Case Scenario

Best case: Westbrook has the surgery, recovers and is ready for the season.

Even if he is ready, the Eagles will have to slowly work him back into the mix. If Westbrook is ready by the season, I look for him to start, but maybe only work in as a decoy and third down guy with McCoy getting maybe 60 percent of the snaps until he's 100 percent.

It does seem as though (like I've said before) Westbrook's time as a feature back is over. If it's not, it is certainly winding down very quickly. McCoy's job has gotten a bit tougher.

Worst case: Westbrook has the surgery, doesn't recover quickly enough, is forced onto the PUP list for the first six weeks.

If Westbrook isn't ready, the weight really shifts to McCoy. There's not too much of a question if McCoy can play, but can he do the little things?

Blocking especially may turn out to be McCoy's Achilles heal, leading to more reps for Weaver as a tailback. Weaver understands blitz pickup, so that would not be a problem.

Can the Eagles even carry that many running backs on their roster?

They would probably be forced to carry five (McCoy, Booker, Eckel, Mendenhall, Weaver) for at least the first six weeks until Westbrook is back.

The Eagles certainly would be forced to cut one of those guys to make room for Westbrook, as there's no way they will carry six running backs.

The other situation then arises of which position suffers a blow? Do they only carry eight or nine linemen? Maybe only four corners? The point being, in order to pick up Westbrook's slack, another position and possibly some good players, will suffer.

“Let’s just see what happens, and then we’ll take it from there,” Andy Reid said. “We obviously know what’s out there, as far as other running backs; we’ve done our homework there. But we’re not going to do anything here until we see what’s going on with Brian.”

“I’m not that worried about it.”

“We’ll reconvene after the surgery.”

Asante Samuel Filling the Vocal Void?

Samuel has taken it upon himself as of late to step up and become the defense's vocal leader since its leader for the past 13 years is now playing in the midwest.

Samuel can be heard on the field and from the sidelines jawing playfully at the offense, mostly at the wide receivers, at the defense, or just offering words of wisdom and advice.

"It's hard to replace a guy and expect for another guy to come in and do what he did," Samuel said. "Everybody is their own person."

Samuel seems to recognize that while he is not Weapon X or a guy who will come out like a man possessed, he does have something to offer to a very young defense and a young team overall.

He's stepping up and becoming a leader, something the Eagles had hoped he would do with Dawkins' departure to the Mile High city.

Mike Zordich Is Back and On the Coaching Staff

Mike Zordich returned to the Eagles as a coaching intern. He played safety for the Eagles in the late 90s.

He's returning as a secondary coach intern.

This would seem to just be more bad news on the get-well-soon-JJ front.

Zordich was a good, smart player and should help out, however.

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