How Far Have They Come, and How Far Will They Go: Eagles Offense 2011

First off, let me say how excited I am to joining this site.  I’m a huge football fan and its always nice to come in contact with people like Kyle who are just as crazy as you are about something that is “only a game”.  Hopefully we will be able to interact with a few more people, as well as the ones already here, and we’ll be able to share the ups and downs.  But now onto why we’re all really here, I’m going to talk about some Eagles Football…

This “off-season” we have had the past few weeks has more than made up for the months of stagnant, aggravating chain of news stories that came out in succession during the lockout.  Andy Reid, Howie Roseman, and Joe Banner had been saying for months they would come out firing when Free Agency hit, but I would bet no one, not even the most crazy Eagle fans, myself included, expected it to unfold as it did.  So far the Eagles have done exactly what they said they would, and more, so lets hope that continues into the season.

With the new additions, and  losses to the roster at this point, it is obvious to any unbiased fan that the Eagles have improved the overall  talent of the team, but I want to dig further into it and do a more in depth comparison of each position and unit, and see how the team at this point in time compares to the season’s roster, a team that went 10-6, won the NFC East, and lost to the eventual Superbowl Champions. 

I’ll start off with Quarterback:  Vick has another year in the system, more knowledge of his offense, teammates, and will have better timing, and will be given more opportunity for audibles this season.  It will be hard for him to beat what he was able to do last year, but if he can stay healthy (knock on wood)… well, everybody knows what he is capable of, it really goes without saying.  As for the depth, Vince Young has his issues, mentally, as well as mechanically, but he is a veteran with starters experience whom plain and simple, is a winner.  I hate using that justification, but look at his record, it speaks for itself, it may not be pretty, but he wins.   Mike Kafka is in his second year, and is a guy I really like.  I got to see a lot of him at Training Camp in person last year, he has a very quick fluid throw which results in a tight, accurately thrown ball.  I’m of the opinion the Eagles would have been fine with him as the second string QB, even knowing Vick’s injury history.  Overall, with the loss of Kevin Kolb, who I expect to be a more than solid NFL QB, the position has lost talent overall, but not by much.

As far as the RBs and FBs, Shady is here, and if he is healthy, and the reports out of Lehigh University are true, he should have an even bigger season than last year.  I believe our RB depth has improved quite a bit with the Ronnie Brown addition, and he will allow our offense to do more with its second string RB in. Jerome Harrison was always a threat to make a big play, but he is young and still played that way.  With Brown, we have a compliment who can run with power, as well as make the receptions out of the backfield and blocks to protect Vick.  Dion Lewis is just electric, he was fun to watch at Pitt, and despite his size, he will make some impact plays.  As far as the FB position goes, we are now without Leonard Weaver, who was a favorite of mine, and one of the best FBs in the league before his injury.  But we still have The Runaway Beer Truck, Owen Schmitt, and we all saw what he can do last year.  Lay some devastating blocks and make a few key clutch plays out of the backfield.  The backfield of the offense looks to be improved this season, despite the loss of Weaver and Harrison. 

The Receiving Corp has a few question marks going into the season, however, overall I see the WR group as being improved.  There is still a lot of uncertainty about Maclin this season, but word seems positive right now, and until I hear otherwise, I expect him to be ready by the time the regular season rolls around.  The uncertainty about Jackson remains, but I’ll touch on that in another story, but because this will be a contract year for him, I expect him to be working hard to earn another contract that he feels he is worthy of.  The depth of the WR group has improved, if that is possible, from last season, with the addition of Steve Smith, and once he is fully healthy I expect him to be another great tool for Reid and Marty Mornhinweg to use, and with all these tools (Cooper, Avant, Celek, Harbor, Lee) expect to see even more varying formations to work out of, and a lot of opportunities for mismatches with opposing defenses.

 

The offensive skill positions lost a Pro Bowl calibur starter from last season in Weaver and some quality depth in Harrison and Kolb, but we have a Pro Bowl caliber FB in Schmitt to fill the void who already knows the system and plays at a high level to man the FB position, and have replaced quality depth with quality depth in Brown and Young, as well as adding another starting caliber WR to a unit that already has three or four starting caliber WRs.  Not to mention Lee, who will also see enough reps that he will make an impact.  When last season ended, I had a hard time finding a way where the offensive skill positions would improve, and as long as this group can get healthy and stay relatively healthy, our already dangerous skill position group will be even more dangerous than last season.

I’m a big supporter of the building through the trenches philosophy, Reid has helped prove that if you put value on your lines, draft well and make smart Free Agent moves when it comes to your lines, you will have a successful team.  Going into this off-season, the offensive line was arguably the biggest area of weakness that the Eagles needed to address, and this offseason they did, starting off with Danny Watkins as the first selection, then adding veteran players through Free Agency who fit with what new Offensive Line coach Howard Mudd wants in his linemen.  Watkins is seeing reps as the first string RG, and when you also figure in the competition going on at RT, we are looking at upgrades for both positions on the right side of the line.  Now factor in Jammal Jackson returning to Center, and the O-line goes from having quite a few question marks, to, at the very least, less question marks for the starting spots, and stronger depth.  The Offensive Line is improved over last year, and if we can get solid play out of Watkins and/or Ryan Harris (or whoever ends up winning the RT battle), and Jackson can stay healthy, that is a strong, cohesive unit along the trenches, which the Eagles have not had in recent seasons.

When you look at the offense as a whole, you expect with the talent at a higher level, as well as continued great coaching, you will see a greater increase in stats accross the board, but keep in mind that the offense already played at a very high level last season, but struggled with consistency at times.  Part of that is due to the back and forth at the beginning of the season with the QB position, and the otherbeing injuries and a lack of familiarity with the Offiensive line.  Hopefully there will be continuity in both those areas, and if that is the case we could see quite an increase in the offensive production this season.  Don’t get over-excited though, there is only 60 minutes in each game, so don’t expect constant video game type scores and stats like the game put up against the ‘Skins last season.  There is a lot to look forward to, the continued developmeant of Vick, McCoy, Maclin, and Cooper, as well as how the additions of Brown, Smith, Watkins, and Harris will work into the offense.

 

Thanks for taking the time for reading this, I’ll be doing a continuation of this for the defensive side in the coming days.  In the meantime, I plan on attending Training Camp at Lehigh tomorrow and Sunday.  If any of you have any questions, or want me to watch anything or anyone in particular, comment below or let me know on twitter (@urffer17) and I’ll do everything I can to answer questions or make observations.

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