Kinda lengthy, but there were a lot of issues to discuss and ideas to explain. Grab a vat of chocolate pudding and you’ll be just fine.
Let’s start by talking about the overall situation. The Eagles went 10-6 last year. They played the Packers pretty close in the playoff loss. It was actually Green Bay’s closest margin in the playoffs. The point is that the Eagles were a good team and still are. We don’t need to make drastic moves to get back in the hunt. The Eagles need to plug some holes and improve the overall quality of the team.
I do expect the Eagles to be active and aggressive. I don’t expect them to go nuts and sign every star that they’ve been linked to. It makes for fun speculation, but isn’t all that realistic. I’m optimistic as we head into the offseason because the Eagles have the resources to make moves and there are good targets available. Remember, the key isn’t to make the biggest moves, but to make the right moves.
My ideal offseason would be this:
* Trade Kevin Kolb to Arizona for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick
* Sign Jason Babin
* Sign Albert Haynesworth (after Mike Shanahan shocks us all and cuts him quickly)
* Sign Paul Posluszny
* Sign Cadillac Williams
* Sign Matt Hasselbeck
Here’s what I’m thinking:
Acquiring DRC would give us a fast, talented RCB in the prime of his career. We definitely need a RCB and he’s got the potential to be an outstanding player. The Eagles were high on him prior to the 2008 Draft and I have to believe some of those feelings remain in place. DRC isn’t coming off a great year, but he’s played well in 2 of his 3 NFL seasons and has all the ability in the world.
Lawlor, you’re an idiot. Why no Charles Johnson? I watched some tape to study Charles. Real impressive player. Reminded me a bit of former Eagle LDE William Fuller, who I loved. There are a couple of problems. I don’t see Johnson as an ideal fit for the Wide-Nine. If we kept last year’s system, he’d be a priority target for me. The Wide-Nine makes more use of angles and speed, which Johnson doesn’t need. He’s effective when lining up tight. The other issue is cost. Trent Cole doesn’t say anything publicly, but I’m betting he’d love a raise. If you give a huge deal to someone like Julius Peppers, Cole might be able to wrap his head around that. Julius is a freak. Charles Johnson isn’t. Good player, but hardly anything “special” or rare about him. Give CJ a big deal (which it would take to land him) and you run the risk of pissing off your best defensive player. Not sure how wise that would be.
I had us sign Jason Babin. He will cost less. All 32 teams know he’s coming off a career season. They all know you can’t necessarily expect the same level of production in 2011. The reason I like Babin is that his numbers came playing LDE in the Wide-Nine for Jim Washburn. We need a LDE for our Wide-Nine, coached by Jim Washburn. Perfect fit, and likely at a reasonable cost. Babin won’t be cheap, but he won’t get the same kind of money as Johnson.
One more thing to remember in regard to the Wide-Nine, it is very much a rotational system. Everybody will get regular snaps. It doesn’t make sense to throw huge dollars at any one player unless the guy is the bluest of Blue Chip players. Babin did well in the system last year. Plus, he knows Reid and Philly from the 2009 season.
Big Al isn’t a necessary addition. He is a luxury item. I’ve written about him a few times this spring. He has off-field issues. He is coming off consecutive disappointing seasons. Still, Big Al can be a dominant DT. There are only a handful of DL in the entire league who are true difference makers. Big Al is such a guy. The presence of Jim Washburn, who coached him so well in Tennessee, makes me willing to take a chance on Big Al. Risky? Yes. The payoff could be so big that I think it is worth it. We might have to trade for him. I’d offer a 5th, but no more. I want the freedom to cut Al if he goes nuts without worrying about what we’ve got invested in him.
So what’s with going after Paul Posluszny? I haven’t said a word about him in the past few months. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about in recent days. I don’t think the Eagles should commit long term to Stewart Bradley. I’m not sure he’ll take a one-year deal here. I go back and forth on what his expectations will be. Stew is coming off a poor year and hasn’t been fully healthy since 2008. Can he really have high expectations? The tricky thing for Stew is that he’ll turn 28 in November. The clock is ticking on him. He needs a long term deal in order to get a decent signing bonus. With his injury history, waiting a year might be risky.
If we take Stew out of the picture, what should we do? I think Jamar Chaney should be the WLB. If we’re going to play more Cover 2, we need a MLB who can cover ground in the passing game, but also has a really good feel for how to cover and who to cover. We could go with Casey Matthews. I thought he had terrific coverage skills in college. Casey is a smart, instinctive LB. That’s also crucial in the new defense. You no longer attack at the snap. Now you need to find the ball, then go.
I watched some tape of Posluszny and came away very impressed. He played in a 3-4 last year, but was in a 4-3 prior to that and was in a Cover 2 scheme. Poz is at his best being off the ball and then running to it. He has good speed and range. He’s a wrap-up tackler and active defender. Good blitzer. Poz has solid cover skills. He’s comfortable in the deep middle. He reminds me of Casey Matthews, but with better athletic ability. Plus, Poz is a proven NFL player. I would not break the bank for him since I don’t think he’s anything special, but adding him would give us a real good set of LBs. You’d have Fokou and Chaney on the outside. You’d have Poz in the middle. Matthews would be the backup MLB. Rashad Jeanty, assuming he stays healthy, is the backup SAM. Keenan Clayton should play in the Nickel and might push Chaney for the WLB spot. Brian Rolle is here to fight for a roster spot. That’s a pretty good LB corps. You have youth, depth, and athleticism.
Now we shift over to offense. We don’t need any starters. I think we stick with what we have at RT. Danny Watkins is going to start at RG, unless he blows it. We’re solid basically everywhere else.
We do need a backup RB. I cannot imagine Jerome Harrison will want to return with as little work as he got last year. I’m not sure if the Eagles have much interest in trying to keep him. I think Andy would love a RB with some size. I’m just not sure he can convince Ronnie Brown or someone like that to come here as a backup. Cadillac Williams maybe. He offers us a player with a bit of everything. He’s got size. Cadillac is an excellent blocker. He is a good pass catcher. He knows his days as a workhorse back are over. He was basically a 3rd down back for Tampa last year. I think he’d be okay with coming here. And I do think with a guy like him Andy would give him more work. Buck used to get 80-100 carries a year. Andy trusted him. I think Andy would trust Cadillac as well.
Finally, I’d love to add Matt Hasselbeck. We will trade Kolb. Mike Kafka isn’t ready to be the backup QB quite yet. Matt would probably love a starting role, but I’m not sure if he’ll find one or not. If we get the chance, adding him would be great. Matt was coached by Andy Reid in 1998 in Green Bay. I assume they have a good relationship. Matt could sign a 2-year deal here and that would give us plenty of time to develop Kafka. Matt’s skills are eroding, but he did win a playoff game last year. He can be a good spot starter/backup. Should Vick go down, we need a veteran who can win a game or two.
1. Matt Hasselbeck
2. Jake Delhomme
3. Marc Bulger
If Hasselbeck gets a starting gig, I would target Delhomme. Cleveland has yet to cut him, but that seems likely to happen. He’s struggled as a starter the last couple of years, but so did Jeff Garcia before we signed him in 2006. Jake played at a high level in 2008. He’s a high character guy and his teammates seem to love him. That’s the kind of guy you want as a backup. I’m not in love with Bulger, but he’s got the passing skills to run our offense and is a smart veteran.
I didn’t list Vince Young because I’m just not sure what to make of him. He might be a starter somewhere. I don’t know if he could handle the scrutiny of being an Eagle. Tennessee was nothing. If Matt Leinart has his head on straight, he could be of interest. No idea what his situation is right now. Tarvaris Jackson is intriguing, but I don’t know if he’s got the passing skills to run our offense. He got by at Minnesota with a good defense and strong running game. We need a passer. Donovan McNabb? Too soon for his return.
1. Cadillac Williams
2. Reggie Bush
3. Clinton Portis
4. Jason Snelling
I already covered Williams. Bush would be very intriguing as well. The argument against him is that we don’t use the #2 RB enough to justify spending big money on him. I’m wondering if the addition of a guy like Bush might force Reid/Marty to do more with the RBs. Reggie is an excellent receiver and could be used in a variety of ways. He would help in the Red Zone. Bush isn’t a power runner, but his speed and elusiveness makes him dangerous down there. He would have added value as a PR. He has no KOR experience, but maybe could be worked in there. Portis might seem like an odd name. He hasn’t stayed healthy for the last 2 years. Portis says he’s now healthy. He understands he can’t be a workhorse runner any more. Portis might be the best blocking RB in the NFL. Good receiver. Very high character player on the field. Weird off the field. I have mixed feelings on him because of his off-field personas and the goofy stuff he says and does. Snelling is an under the radar guy. Has played RB and FB. Good size. He’d be a nice complement to Shady McCoy.
I’d have interest in Ronnie Brown, but don’t think he’d want to be part of our offense. Darren Sproles is sorta of interest, but I’m not sure how much of a boost he’d give us. He has 6 career rushing TDs. Big time playmaker, but his KOR ability is negated by the new rules and he isn’t much of a Red Zone threat. What about Brian Westbrook? I’d be open to his return. He showed last year in SF that he is willing to be a backup.
We need a good backup RB. We got lucky that Shady stayed healthy all of last year. I hope that happens again, but we can’t count on it. We need a backup who is capable of starting a game or two and being a functional player. We did draft Dion Lewis, but I see him as somewhat of a project.
As for FB, I think we’ll stick with Owen Schmitt and Stanley Havili. Le’Ron McClain would be nice, but doesn’t seem like a likely target.
The only WR I see us having potential interest in is Plaxico Burress. Reid apparently has always been fascinated by the guy. He’s available and the price will be reasonable. Plax would give us our best Red Zone threat since TO. The problem is carving out a role for him. We’ve already got arguably the best trio of WRs in the league in DJax, Maclin, and Avant. How do we find Plax 40 catches? Does it make sense? I think the Eagles will consider this situation strongly, but I’m not sure if they’ll end up with the answers that lead to his signing.
I think the Eagles will stand pat with what they’ve got. I know plenty of people want a RT. The Eagles aren’t going after Doug Free or Jared Gaither. That’s just not going to happen. Danny Watkins will be pushed into the RG role. Winston Justice and King Dunlap will battle for the RT spot. Possibly Austin Howard as well.
The one position that could be in a state of flux is Center. Jamaal Jackson is back after missing the end of 2009 and virtually all of 2010. The problem is that he’s not a Howard Mudd type of player. Mike McGlynn was up and down last year. He’s not an ideal fit either. We could be in for a surprise move here, either in terms of FA or promoting someone already on the team. Remember what Dave Spadaro said about C. “Mudd has had success with athletic, quick offensive linemen and it makes me wonder if either Jamaal Jackson or Mike McGlynn is exactly what Mudd is looking for at the center position. The kind of player he is looking for is really, really important here. ”
1. Jason Babin
2. Matthias Kiwanuka
3. Charles Johnson
4. Ray Edwards
Remember, that list is based on fit, not just talent. As to the Eagles and DE, Brandon Graham is a player the Eagles still believe in very much. They know 2011 isn’t going to be his year so the team is absolutely interested in adding someone up front. My money is on Jason Babin. There are plenty of other options. I don’t know who the Eagles like. Babin is a guess on my part based on circumstances.
Kiwanuka could be a real interesting player. He had 4 sacks last year in the first 3 games, but got hurt and missed the rest of the year. I wonder if he would be open to signing a 1-year deal and then going for a big payday next year. Kiwi only has one big year, 2008 when he had 8 sacks. In the other 4 seasons he’s got a total of 15.5 sacks. He’s hardly a sure thing, but is big and talented.
I don’t see the Eagles going for a DT other than Big Al. We have 4 quality players already in place. You add someone if they are an impact player, but I’m not seeing many of those guys available. There are lots of big DTs, but we’re looking more for speed. Al is an exception because he is a big, athletic guy who can get up the field and be disruptive. Juan Castillo genuinely believes that Bunkley and Laws can thrive in the new system. Antonio Dixon might as well. We’re still figuring out just how good he can be. If Mike Patterson reports in good shape, he could surprise some people. He can’t come in the same size as last year.
1. Paul Posluszny
2. Stephen Tulloch
3. Nick Barnett
The Eagles might add an OLB if he was a top shelf player. Chad Greenway got the franchise tag so he’s off the market. I don’t see anyone else who is good enough to fit into that category. The Eagles like Fokou and are high on Chaney. They want those guys on the field.
MLB is the mystery spot. I already covered Stew’s situation and why I like Poz. I know many people love Stephen Tulloch. I think someone will give him a big deal. I don’t think he’s worth big money for us. Tulloch is only a limited playmaker. He is a tackling machine. Ideally, he’s a 2-down LB. His cover skills aren’t great. Also, Tulloch is a pure MLB. The nice thing about Poz is that he could slide out and play WLB. If somehow Chaney got reps in the middle and just blew everyone away, Poz would be fine moving outside. He played MLB and OLB at Penn State. He’s good in space.
I have marginal interest in Barnett. He has been a good MLB and ILB in the past. He would be purely a short term solution until Casey Matthews was ready to take over. I’ve gotten a few questions about Barrett Ruud. I watched tape of him and wasn’t impressed at all. I’d rather go with Matthews. Same with Kirk Morrison.
I don’t think we have to sign a MLB. I could live with Matthews starting as a rookie. I’d have definite concerns, but he was a 3-year starter at Oregon and is a smart player. He comes from an NFL family. That should ease his transition to the NFL. Casey won’t have friends and family hitting him up for money. He won’t be shocked at being in a big stadium. He will understand the business-like nature of pro football. It is a job. They pay you to workout, practice, and play. You have to treat football in a serious, professional manner.
A few people have asked about some OLBs. Manny Lawson is a player people bring up. He doesn’t fit us at all. Manny needs to play on the LOS. Our LBs will be back off the ball more often than not. Manny isn’t smooth in space. He’s a former DE and needs to be on the line, mixing it up. He can play in a 4-3, but not our system.
Another mystery position. Nate Allen is reportedly on track to report on time. If true, FS is good to go. Kurt Coleman took over for Allen last year and was solid. He could be the starting SS this year. If not, he’s a good #3 Safety. Rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett is the SS of the future, and possibly the present. The team is very high on him so he might be the starter from day one. Yeah, that’s a really young group, but they’re talented. And these guys aren’t projects. Quintin Demps and Macho Harris were S/CB tweeners. Jarrett, Allen, and Coleman were long time starters at Safety. They know the position. Colt Anderson made his presence felt on STs immediately. Now I’m sure he’s hoping to get more snaps on defense.
The x-factor is Marlin Jackson. Can he stay healthy? Do the Eagles risk keeping him around? He could be an excellent tutor for the young guys, but you sure can’t count on Jackson at all. Without him, the position is very young. Would the Eagles bring in a veteran to help the kids out? I’m not so sure they would. Sean Jones was a band-aid player in 2009 and wasn’t much help. Jackson was supposed to have that role last year, but got hurt. If the Eagles do let Quintin Mikell walk, which is a near certainty, I’m betting they go with the young guys.
1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
2. Ike Taylor
3. Nnamdi Asomugha
4. Josh Wilson
5. Jonathan Joseph
DRC is my preference, but this is one position where the Eagles have a variety of good choices. I think all of us are fascinated at the notion of adding Nnamdi. He is a great CB and those guys aren’t available often. Very intriguing. Ike Taylor isn’t on the same level, but has an excellent track record in terms of being a winner. Big games and pressure situations are normal for him. Wilson is young and talented. JoJo is young and talented, but isn’t an ideal fit style wise and would cost a pretty penny.
I don’t have any interest in Antonio Cromartie. He needs to be in a man-coverage system. He’s a poor tackler. He has off-field issues. He’s also looking for big bucks. No thanks. If Nate Clements is cut and we can’t work anything out with the top five guys, Nate could be of interest. He’s still a good player. He’d be a short term solution while Lindley and Marsh developed.
David Akers is gone, but Alex Henery has his spot filled. I’m pretty sure that Sav Rocca will be re-signed. Dorenbos is set as the snapper.
RS is manned by a bunch of guys right now. Jorrick Calvin, Gerard Lawson, Chad Hall, and Sinorice Moss will be battling for the job. Obviously Maclin and DJax have some return ability. I don’t see us going for a pure RS in free agency. Could add RB, WR, or DB with RS skills.
You’d come out with a 2-deep depth chart of this, based on my plan:
WR – DeSean Jackson … Riley Cooper
WR – Jeremy Maclin …… Jason Avant
TE – Brent Celek ……… Clay Harbor
FB – Owen Schmitt ….. Stanley Havili
RB – LeSean McCoy …. Cadillac Williams
QB – Michael Vick …….. Matt Hasselbeck
LT – Jason Peters …….. Austin Howard
LG – Todd Herremans … Julian Vandervelde
C — A.Q. Shipley …….. Jason Kelce
RG – Danny Watkins ….. Mike McGlynn
RT – Winston Justice …. King Dunlap
RE – Trent Cole ……….. Darryl Tapp
DT – Al Haynesworth …. Brodrick Bunkley
DT – Mike Patterson ….. Antonio Dixon
LE – Jason Babin ………. Juqua Parker
WB – Jamar Chaney …… Keenan Clayton
MB – Paul Posluszny ….. Casey Matthews
SB – Moise Fokou …….. Rashad Jeanty
SS – Jaiquawn Jarrett … Colt Anderson
FS – Nate Allen ……….. Kurt Coleman
CB – DRC ………………. Joselio Hanson
CB – Asante Samuel …. Trevard Lindley
P – Sav Rocca
K – Alex Henery
LS – Jon Dorenbos
Not a shabby group, huh? There could be changes with some veterans who might be dealt (Patt or Juqua maybe), but this is a good guess for now. There is a lot of youth in key positions, but there is enough talent to contend for the Super Bowl. The team could really be outstanding in 2012. The Packers had plenty of young players last year, including multiple rookie starters. I seem to recall them doing okay.
Remember this ancient football saying that I’m just now making up:
Youth is okay, as long as it can play