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A Few Answers For The Philadelphia Eagles
By Clayton Ruley
 

 

You can stay but you need to make some changes!

It's time to stop bashing the Philadelphia Eagles for their horrible job on and off the field and think to next season. While the team has several holes including both offensive and defensive lines they still have a very good (not great yet) Quarterback in Donavan McNabb, a multi-purpose threat in Westbrook resigned, a decent secondary on defense, and about 12 million dollars to spend. Nice building blocks for 2006! So what needs do the Birds have to address to make a serious push back towards the Super Bowl in an improved NFC? I'm glad you asked cause I got the answers...

 

Let's start with the defense...

 

Get at least one impact linebacker from the draft or free agency - The two outside linebackers weren't helped by the Eagles lack of pass rush (see next need) but their play was still poor to say the least. I have no problem keeping Dhani Jones in the starting lineup but they have to go out and draft for the future and get an outside linebacker. Many have said the name A.J. Hawk and that would please me.  He's a hard hitter, a leader in college and can cover decently. But we know the Eagles don't think linebacker isn't a first round pick normally so here's a though how about grabbing a linebacker with a established game and grooming a young line backer you draft in the second or third round.

 

How sweet would Lavar Arrington be in an Eagles uniform! Assuming he gets cut from Washington and he doesn't retire, Arrington would be perfect for this team! He's a good tackler and blitz guy, something defensive coordinator Jim Johnson would love. Of course he'd want to get paid but if the Eagles are trying to win they'd figure something out!

 

Please add starters at defensive tackle and end - While I wasn't expecting Derrick Burgess to go anywhere and have the impact he did and I can't get mad at the Birds for not resigning him I can say they should have added an good replacement and not depended on the unproven Jerome McDougle, first round pick or not, to step up. Jevon Kearse had 7 1/2 sacks (same as 2004) but could have more if the opposite side's end does a better job.  We need to address this need in the draft or free agency.  Penn State DE Tamba Hali would be nice and he has a hunger to succeed given his turbulent life in Liberia (where his mother still resides) and his exodus from the war-torn country.

 

Another option is trading for Jets DE John Abraham, a Pro Bowl caliber player who doesn't look to be staying in NY as they may look to cut costs. It may take a few mid - round picks but it would be worth it because with the Jets he was asked to be the main man here he would be an important cog and benefit from having Kearse on the other side.

 

At tackle, the Eagles cut their nose to spite their face when they let go of Corey Simon and received no compensation.  That means a Pro Bowl caliber player you spent a first rounder on years ago brought nothing back and that's sad! Mike Patterson played well for the team in his rookie campaign but he need BIG help. You know about 330 lbs. of help from some school.  Let Patterson be the quick agile tackle that gets some sacks storming up the middle and go grab a hefty, take up two or three guys defensive tackle! Hollis Thomas and Sam Rayburn are good guys to have... off the bench! They should never start again and Paul Grasmanis should retire and save his body for his family. The oft- injured defensive tackle continues to get hurt year after year and the Birds must move on.

 

Quality cornerback over 6-1 - Lito Sheppard got exposed as the weak link of the secondary and needs some competition for the next season.  While it's true that line pressure does help or hurt Lito's responsibility that still no excuse for Sheppard's poor tackling, inability to recognize the offensive players strengths and weaknesses and bad plays on jump balls! Sheldon Brown does it all for the team and other teams pick on Sheppard because that. I'd like to see them bring in a big guy to play not named Matt Ware. Ty Law sounds great to me because of his championship pedigree but no way the Birds bring him in (a. too old, b. he wants money) so the next thing is draft one early and promote Rod Hood for now. Hood brings toughness and good hands to the table and has impressed me towards the end of this horrendous season.

 

Now to the offense.

 

Does it really need to be said - Go get a number one receiver! There will never be another Terrell Owens but there is a nice player in Buffalo who will probably be moving on soon and if the birds know anything they will be there to pick him up. His name is Eric Moulds. Moulds is a 88 compared to T.O.'s 94 on the skill meter but is a nice route runner, has experience being number one and will provide veteran leadership while not remotely rocking the boat. He along with an improving Reggie Brown, Todd Pinkston's return from injury and possibly Greg Lewis would be a nice group or receivers. Andy Reid is crazy if he thinks their current troop of guys can do any better than mediocre.  That's a disservice to McNabb, those young receivers and us as fans.  We the fans saw the greatness of T.O. on the field and know what this offense is capable of. All we ask is too see that half of the time.

 

Backup Quarterback - The days of Koy Detmer need to be over. He's does little good on the football field besides holding kicks and that's not enough. Mike McMahon is not a second string starter either and needs to be let go.  The Eagles need to sign a veteran QB and draft another in the middle to late rounds. The middle to late round pick can be groomed for the future and at worst you can trade him down the road for some picks ala A.J. Feeley.  No team should be dependant on one player like the Eagles were on McNabb and T.O. That means your team depth is non-existent and once something bad goes down your season is in jeopardy. Look at teams like Jacksonville with David Garrard stepping in for Bryon Leftwich for the last three to four weeks and doing a good job. How about Tampa Bay with Chris Simms, Minnesota with Brad Johnson, New England and Doug Flutie, Atlanta and Matt Schaub. The list goes on and on. Plus it wouldn't bad for McNabb to feel some pressure to perform well or get yanked. Maybe he wouldn't come up small in the big games (think Denver, Dallas, Washington games this past season). Quarterbacking is about results not being buddies with the coach (or is it?) despite his numbers McNabb has come up really small when it mattered most and that has to be disheartening for the players on the team because it certainly is for the fans.

 

Run the ball - The Eagles had success running the ball when we had no threat at quarterback and wide receiver so imagine what would happen if Andy Reid decided to stick to it.  Along with my (and the whole city's) desire to run the ball we could use a power back to complement the newly resigned Brian Westbrook. Don't ask Westbrook to be a between the tackles guy, 25 carries guy because that's a disservice to him and offense.  While we can't get University of Southern California's Reggie Bush, Westbrook can be versatile and many similar ways for this offense.  I don't know of many 6-0, 220 lbs. plus backs out there but if LenDale White is comes out and is available I'd grab him up! He has power and cuts also. Just look at the national championship game and see what I mean! If not him please grab a similar build guy who is durable in the draft or through free agency.

 

Resign Jon Runyan - He was the best offensive player this season (no jokes) and this is after the Eagles made him take a pay cut to save money they never spent! Now he's in a power position and I hope the Eagles make the necessary steps and payments to keep him here.  Coupled with Tra Thomas's weak production and health issues this is especially important because you're not trying to rebuild a whole line.

 

Let's not forget about the coaching.

 

Change the philosophy or find new people who will - Andy Reid has been very successful but his lack of run game on offense and his refusal to sign linebackers in particular have hurt this team in the big games.  If Brad Childress, the current offensive coordinator, leaves the team the Eagles need to bring in a different less predictable play caller.  If Mike Sherman doesn't get a head coaching job I'd like to see him here as well as possibly Steve Mariucci, both friends of Reid but with more game planning emphasis on the run game. Sherman in particular would be nice because I like what I say from him in his days with Ahman Green and the Packers.

 

Bring in a personnel guy - I know the Eagles moved Tom Heckert to the General Manager's position but I don't buy that his role, as team echo will change despite the pay increase.  The Eagles, since the departure of Tom Modrak, have wanted everyone in the organization to agree with the things they do and it has hurt the team in a lot of ways most notably in the locker room and with personal decisions.

Andy Reid's mentor Mike Holmgren had his powers as General Manager taken away and looks at the success he has had this season! This isn't a new problem in my eyes but when you lose it gets magnified 10 times. Reid and the players are in a sticky situation because their coach is the person who will say if they should stay or go, get paid or don't and in football it just doesn't work well for many.  I think that contradiction hurt the team in the Corey Simon, Duce Staley, Jeremiah Trotter (part one) and T.O. situations. We need Andy to focus on the team because remember before this he wasn't even a coordinator in the NFL. Whether he admits it or not he needs to let the reigns go a bit.

 

Lastly the upper management needs to shut up and pay! - These pompous guys have returned from the shadows after a magical 2004 and their egos are way too inflated for an organization that hasn't won a damn thing! The Eagles are no gold standard they are a good team but not a great one. Greatness is not measured in ticket sales, jersey sales or cap space it's judged on the field and winning a title is the only thing Eagles fans want! I'd personally trade one Super Bowl trophy for all these years of being highly competitive and wouldn't blink! Ask Rams, Buccaneers, or Ravens fans the same and I guarantee you they'd say the same. While winning is good if you don't do what it takes to hoist the trophy and you don't get the results what is the point? You won the T.O. and Corey Simon wars but lost the season. So who really won? It certainly wasn't the fans and that's who matters most (I would hope)

 

The Eagles organization and their quarterback McNabb need to put their egos aside and wallets on overdrive and do what it takes to win a Lombardi Trophy because without they will be the biggest disappointment in Philly sports history! When you have greatness or damn goodness on the field don't nitpick and try to say why they don't deserve the money like you did with Simon or T.O. just say we are cheap and don't want to pay you (like the rest of Philadelphia teams at one point or another save the Flyers). T.O. on the field played his ass off, and was and still is a top three player at his position and just wanted to be paid like it! You let someone go not because they weren't performing but because "he already signed a contract"! Well congrats to you Eagles you were right and meanwhile there are players getting over paid and not performing to the best of their ability up and down your roster. Karma bites you in the butt sometimes!

 

  

              

Any questions, comments, suggestions email Clayton at clayton@geoclan.com.

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