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The Eagles 2009 Off-Season Thus Far
By Clayton Ruley
 

The Philadelphia Eagles has received raves over their 2009 NFL draft and off-season and I must agree on paper it looks great. Many Eagles fans have been asking for a back-up running back to complement Brian Westbrook and possibly replace him and the Eagles got a good one in University of Pittsburgh star LeSean McCoy. McCoy's ability to catch out of the backfield and running ability seem to be a perfect fit for the West Coast offense Andy Reid employs.

Formerly of the University of Pittsburgh, LeSean McCoy needs to help Brian Westbrook to make an impact.

The Birds needed a tight end to replace starter L.J. Smith and while Brett Celek has shown promise, the drafting of University of Florida's Cornelius Ingram looks to add another pass catching threat. at 6-4 with good hands and skills of a wideout Ingram has the skills to make the Eagles two tight end formations some of the team's best.

The team lost tackles Tra Thomas (Jacksonville) and Jon Runyan (injured still unsigned) two of the team's all-time greats. They went out and traded their second 1st round pick in the 2009 draft (among a few other picks) for Jason Peters formerly of the Buffalo Bills and signed Shawn Andrews' brother Stacy (formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals) to help on the line as well. The Eagles now have a much younger line with flexibility. Shawn Andrews is getting a look at the right tackle spot and Stacy Andrews will look to fill in where needed.

The Philadelphia Eagles haven't had a good fullback since Mechanicsburg's Jon Ritchie played and last season many Eagles fans saw the importance of the lead blocker on Brian Westbrook's game as well as the need for a real fullback in short yardage situations. The team has answered the call by going out and grabbing Leonard Weaver from Seattle. This 6-foot, 260lb. back is not only a dedicated blocker but has hands and could be a nice fit into a West Coast scheme that historically has had fullbacks like Tom Rathman and Mike Alstott thrive in it.

Sheldon Brown is asking for a new contract because he feels his is outdated (he's probably right). To make sure the situation is covered in a worse case scenario, the team went out and acquired Ellis Hobbs, a starter last year in New England as an insurance policy. Hobbs, is an undersized but smart defensive back who should in best case be a good nickel/dime corner for the team. At best, Hobbs could be a starter with his former starting mate in Patriot land also current Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel.

Finally the team got a wide receiver in the first round for the first time since Freddie Mitchell (bad pick) in Jeremy Maclin out of the University of Missouri. Maclin came out early (only two years on the field) and played in a spread offense (not the best for NFL transition) but has the hands, speed and quickness that will work well in this offensive system. Maclin isn't a physical receiver but will eventually make it almost impossible to double up on one of our wide receiver because him along with Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson can all burn. The only downside to this selection is an opposing team may still try to jam the receivers at the line because of their slight physical statures.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb has some more weapons now but I question whether he will see their true worth before he's walking out the door in a couple of years (at best). These players especially the wideout Maclin would seem to be picks for after Donovan (A.D.) more than for the here and upcoming season.

Jeremy Maclin should be a good one but does he step up in his first or second year?

I see a team like Atlanta give up a 2nd rounder for next year's draft to get Tony Gonzalez, a sure fire future Pro Football Hall of Famer and wonder why the Eagles weren't interested enough to make that happen! Gonzalez is still at a high level of his game and had 90 catches for over a 1000 years with a bad quarterback, injured running back (Larry Johnson) and poor offensive line last season. While I'm sure the compensation probably didn't make sense technically to the Eagles, when does the team cash it's chips in and go all in?

The same goes for Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals made it clear that he'd be available for a late 1st, early 2nd round pick in the '09 draft and the Eagles were apparently in negotiations but pulled out and let him stay a Cardinal. While I love Maclin as a pick for the team, you know what you'd get with Anquan Boldin: a leader, who goes over the middle, takes a hit and keeps on trucking. What do we know about Maclin on the pro level? I know the real reason the team didn't bring Boldin in was because they didn't want to pay Boldin $9 or $10 million per season.

While that may be steep the Eagles have the money and should have given it up for a stud that fits this offense in a way that only one other player has in the last ten years (hint T.O. without the headache)!

Has Andy Reid brought in the talent to win it all?

This off-season isn't over and I still would like the team to go and get defensive end some help on the other side because towards the end of the season he was being double teamed and was a ghost in the NFC championship game versus Arizona. Maybe someone will get cut and the Eagles can capitalize as they usually do, by grabbing another team's disgruntled player.

Until then, I say very good off-season but not great because you didn't throw the cards on the table and show the players and fans that you want to win a Super Bowl right now and not in two years! Only time will tell if these moves will lead this years' Eagles team to the promise land but that's expecting a lot to happen on young and new players backs. Sometimes any type of change is a great thing and sometimes its about what kind of change you make.

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

Joe Banner has been in talking to the public a lot these days.

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