Team Profile: Philadelphia Eagles

2005 Season Synopsis: The Eagles started off last off-season with a lot of off the field problems due to Terrell Owens. However, they still had an auspicious start, winning 4 of their first 6 games. However, Donovan McNabb’s injury, the inability to win some close games, and a paucity of focus on the running game rendered the Eagles 4-5 before McNabb’s injury finally did him in for the season. A lack of an experienced backup at quarterback coupled by several other offensive, defensive and special teams’ injuries, left the Eagles looking towards the draft and the start of the 2006 NFL season.

Off-Season: Prior to the draft, the Eagles seemed pretty concerned with addressing their holes on defense, which is quite understandable considering the inexplicable number of points they gave up during the ’05 season. They signed free agent DE Darren Howard, and OLB Shawn Barber, a former standout Eagles player. Darren Howard will not only make him and Kearse one the most anticipated DE tandems in the league, but it will also give the Eagles a great rotation up front and give them a comparable answer to the DE tandem of Strahan and Umeniyora for the Giants. The acquisition of Jabar Gaffney gives them a WR with a quality skill set, but he, much like the other Eagles’ wideouts, have yet to prove any type of game-breaking ability. The Eagles’ lack of concern for getting a standout WR or a between the tackles RB was quite concerning. But the new addition of WR Donte Stallworth, and the sudden reemergence of RB Correll Buckhalter might be the answer to that concern.

2006 Draft: Much in the character of Andy Reid, the Eagles selected yet another lineman in the first round of the draft. By selecting DT Broderick Bunkley, the Eagles have certainly solidified their defensive line and should automatically perform leaps and bounds beyond last seasons’ sacking standards. The second round pick of OT Winston Justice also helped fortify an already talented Eagles offensive line for the future, and maybe even for the present if Tra Thomas is not able to rebound from his ongoing blood clot problems. The rest of draft however, failed to provide McNabb with any other weapons to target this season. This shows that Eagles are leaving most of the offensive production duties in the hands of RB Brain Westbrook and 2nd year WR Reggie Brown, and it also demonstrates that the Eagles are confident in their back up wideouts. If Pinkston can return to his 2003 form, the Eagles might be able to get by on the receiving end, but if RB’s Buckhalter or Moats cannot take away the bulk of the carries from Westbrook, than the Eagles are in grave danger of not being able to utilize their best offensive weapon properly.

Season Prediction:


Holes:

RB: In need of someone who can run between the tackles for 12-17 carries

WR: In need of a wideout who can stretch the field and open up the west coast offense; Stallworth could be the answer

ROLB: Last year this position was dreary, they will probably move Simoneau or Barber

The Eagles passed on the opportunity to trade for T. J. Duckett, Thomas Jones, or even Kevan Barlow. Westbrook is capable of running between the tackles, but not for more than 5 or 6 carries in that specific area. If Buckhalter can return to his 2003 form, after his last knee surgery, then the answer to the running back questions is already on the team. However, there have been talks between the Eagles and Stephen Davis which would provide another proven answer to the running game. The question at WR is whether or not Reggie Brown and Stallworth can get it done. The answer is no, however, McNabb has done more with less in the past. Greg Lewis has demonstrated deep threat ability, and he is probably the fastest Eagles’ WR, despite being a backup. If Andy Reid can find a way to isolate him from the slot, this could be the answer to the Eagles deep threat problems.

Strengths:

Donovan McNabb is a top 5 quarterback in this league, and his ability to win no matter what is a proven factor in the regular season. Why people continue to doubt his ability to play without WR’s is quite confusing. The same way nobody knew who Deion Branch or Givens were before Tom Brady became elite, is the same way that nobody knew who Todd Pinkston and James Thrash were before McNabb made them well-known. Not that either of them is as good as Branch, but he made it “do-what-it-do” with what he had, all the way to 3 NFC Championship games. Brian Westbrook is an underrated player. Just because he is not a great in-between-the-tackles-runner, he has gotten this rap as being ineffective at the run, while in fact he is very good at the off tackle running play, and he has a nose for the end-zone in goal-line packages. His receiving skills are as good as any slot receiver in the league, and there is no safety or linebacker in the league who matches up with him. The Defense this year has no weaknesses. Corey Simon’s absence from last year is now going to be filled by Bunkley, Patterson and the veteran Ed Jasper. Sheldon Brown will likely return to his all-pro form from 2004, as will the rest of the secondary. Jeremiah Trotter believes he is set for a Defensive MVP season, and with his ability to clog the run, and with the fresh rotation he will have in front of him this season, he is an early favorite to win it.

Projected Eagles’ 2006 Record:

Overall: 11-5; Division 5-1

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