Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Preview
Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have completed their coaching staff all attention should shift to the anemic group that led to such a wretched season. When an NFL team wins only four games it is safe to say a position-by-position assessment would be beyond extensive and a complete overhaul is needed.
However, for the sake of time and to avoid epic depression it is much easier to view who in free agency would be good fit for the Birds, not just in the immediate future but also for the long term.
The Eagles' offensive line received much of the blame for quarterback Michael Vick’s habitual failures. Truth be told the line rests somewhere between abysmal and adequate. Injuries and poor quarterback play killed any chance this group had of succeeding. The return of center Jason Kelce, tackle Jason Peters, and guard Todd Herremans will improve this group tremendously, and if Kelly can implement a quarterback proficient in making pre-snap adjustments then one can expect a major growth from this group.
That growth would also be further expedited with the addition of a strong dependable guard. Kelly, much like his predecessor Andy Reid, has an affinity for the “rotund” blocker based on his lineman at Oregon, where the majority went for 6’6 290 plus. A solid addition, should the Birds go the free agent route, would be Buffalo Bills free-agent guard Andy Levitre. The former second -round pick has only three years under his belt and was an invaluable cog to a surprisingly efficient Bills running game. The Bills ranked in the top five in the NFL in total rushing yards and yards per carry, and finished 13th in rushing touchdowns.
Aside from quarterback Philly is strong on the offensive side of the ball, but should not be averse to securing the interior of the line. It would be beautiful to see the Eagles nab a guy like tackle Jake Long or tackle Ryan Clady, but price makes both of those moves highly unlikely.
Now if they could get the pesky franchise quarterback thing handled, oh but that is a story for another day.
It is difficult to gauge where this group is, and with the recent release of defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson the task becomes that much more daunting. The release of the two veterans leaves last year’s first-round pick Fletcher Cox as the lone player certain to make the team at that position.
Cox looks the part and, at times, played the part of a beast, the tackles' 5.5 sacks should give reason for optimism. The Birds currently have four defensive tackles under contract and it is unknown if Coach Kelly will carry five. Especially considering the cupboard is full of senior citizens and former first-round busts, no one knows if Philly is going to run a 3 – 4 or 4 – 3. That decision drastically changes how they would approach free agency and the upcoming NFL draft.
All signs point to a 3 – 4 defense, yet it is plausible that Kelly and crew are still weighing their options and evaluating. A name worth watching is former 2008 fifth-overall selection Glenn Dorsey. The former LSU Tiger was a bust in the 3 – 4 in Kansas City, but could be an asset in the 4 – 3 playing alongside Cox. If the Birds go after Dorsey it will be obvious they are rolling with a 4 – 3, but if Baltimore Raven OLB/DE Paul Kruger comes in for a visit then expect a 3 – 4.
Dorsey is worth a look if the Eagles are going with a 4 – 3 and Kruger would provide depth in a 3 – 4 scheme.
The secondary where Philadelphia needs to start, maintain, and end in regards to improving this roster. Whether embattled cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha returns is inconsequential. It is time to demote safety Nate Allen to special teams and invest in a true playmaker in the secondary. A player who is rarely beat deep and is a pure ball hawk.
Buffalo Bills' safety Jairus Byrd would be a perfect fit and a necessary ball hawk for this often embroiled secondary. Byrd is would be a step in the right direction and provide a building block for a secondary looking to make a name for themselves. Byrd has made 2nd-team All-Pro three of his four years in the league and has started 55 of a possible 64 games.
The addition of Byrd would also allow the Eagles to focus on an “in the box safety” to aid in stopping the running game. The former Oregon Duck’s coverage ability would provide new defensive coordinator Bill Davis with a plethora of options, which can only be a good thing.