Brian Westbrook will retire an Eagle. Good to hear, although not much of a surprise. He remained very close to Big Red even after leaving for a year in SF. Westy is an Eagle through and through. Heck, he went to Villanova so that makes him even more of a Philly guy.
Westy was the first real offensive weapon of the Reid era. Until his emergence in 2003, you had Chad Lewis, Duce Staley, Charles Johnson, and James Thrash, and Todd Pinkston as the “weapons”. Those guys made some plays, but defenses never had to gameplan for them. There was respect, but no fear. Nothing close.
In Week 3 of the 2003 season, Westy came alive. He didn’t have a great game, but made a huge play. The Eagles led 16-13 late in the game. The team wanted to run the 4-minute offense and eat up as much clock as possible. Westy took a handoff and went 62 yards for a TD to turn a tight game into a definite win. He was great for the rest of the year. He had the PR for a TD to win the Giants game. Late in that year he used an amazing move on a PR vs SF to make a fool of a tackler and that turned into a spectacular TD. Westy got into the endzone 13 times that year on only 197 total touches (runs, receptions, PRs, and KORs). That’s a weapon.
The only thing that stopped Westy was injury issues. His knees were a problem for years. A wicked hit by London Fletcher gave him a concussion that basically ended his time as an Eagle. Westy didn’t practice a whole lot, but he showed up on Sunday and made big play after big play. He was a complete back. Very good runner. Great receiver. Very good blocker. Great teammate. He was so smart and so versatile that the Eagles could use him in a variety of ways. Defenses had their hands full every time they faced Brian Westbrook.
I wish his career had lasted a bit longer, but I’m glad we got to watch Westbrook play as an Eagle. He was special.
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Rough time for ex-Eagles. Vince Young was cut by the Bills. I don’t know what his future is. Trevor Laws is headed to IR in St. Louis. Omar Gaither was cut by the Panthers. TO was cut in Seattle. Kevin Kolb continues to struggle.
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Rather than just write a bunch of short, random thoughts, I’ll answer specific questions that you guys have.
Should we be concerned by Nnamdi getting beat this PS? No. I’m not worried. He gave up a couple of completions vs CLE. One was a pass that missed his hand by inches and it took a perfect throw/catch to beat him. The other was a short pass where he played off, then came up and tackled the WR for a short gain. I’ll worry about Nnamdi when we see crappy players beating him down the field or good players dominating him.
His time in Oakland has people thinking of him as a mythic creature. The Raiders let him do the same thing all game long. And they had a terrible defense virtually every year he was there. The Raiders were at the bottom in run D over and over. Teams got the lead on them and then ran the ball. That meant fewer attempts for Nam. Life is different in Philly. Teams know we’ll score. They have to attack. That means he’s going to get tested. And he will give up some plays.
What’s going on with backup Safety? I’m not sure. I think OJ Atogwe is close to a lock. Think, being the key word. Jaiquawn Jarrett has played himself into the mix. Colt Anderson could start on PUP. Phillip Thomas played really well vs CLE. A big game vs the Jets could push him up the ladder.
It is also possible that the Eagles could look to other teams. I have not seen any teams with so many good Safeties that they could be called “loaded” at that spot. The best hope for the Eagles, if they want an outsider, is for a team to fall in love with a young SS/FS and cut a veteran to save money.
The Jets game is huge for Jai-Jar, Phillip Thomas, and Atogwe. They need to play really well. I would love the Eagles to move Keenan Clayton back there, but don’t see that happening at this late time.
The good news here is that Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen have played well. The only concern is that Nate’s had some hamstring issues. If he is hurt, we must have a good backup who can come in.
What’s up at QB? Vick will start the opener. The coaches don’t want to say it, but Nick Foles sure looks like the backup. He’s certainly earned the job in my eyes.
That leaves the #3 spot open. Has Trent Edwards stolen it? Should Mike Kafka get the job? I really think Kafka is the way to go here. Ask yourself this…if you cut Trent Edwards, do you realistically expect another team to sign him? I don’t. He’s done well against backups, but hasn’t done anything special.
Kafka got hurt in the opener, but he had played pretty well at Lehigh. He knows the offense inside-out. He could be a help in explaining things to Foles. Edwards does have more game experience, but Kafka has 2 1/2 years of training in the scheme and the Eagles way of doing things.
Let’s say the Eagles win the Super Bowl this year and Vick decides to retire so that he can focus on his career of selling shirts at Modell’s. Foles would be the starter. Kafka could be your backup. He’s young enough that he can still get better. Edwards is what he is. I was hoping he might get back to his 2008 level, but he just doesn’t deal with pressure well and I don’t think that will change.
Some have asked about just going with 2 QBs. That’s just not the Andy Reid way. You can argue the logic of the idea, but some coaches are very set in their beliefs. Bill Belichick loves TEs. Jon Gruden loved lots of RBs/FBs. Reid wants his 3 QBs.
What’s up with Casey Matthews? He’s dealing with a high ankle sprain right now and that’s cost him the last couple of PS games. Probably will keep him out vs the Jets as well. Casey is focused on getting back for the opener.
Is he a lock at backup MLB? Impossible to say. The Eagles like him, but not being able to watch him in much PS action does hurt. If there was a definite upgrade, they’d make a move, but I don’t know of any backup MLBs that would fit that description.
Casey would actually like a chance to get in the mix to be the starting WLB, but I think for now he should focus on being a good backup MLB.
Brian Rolle vs Keenan Clayton for a roster spot? I’m taking Rolle. He is a legit LB. Clayton is a STer and cover guy, but cannot play the run. He is a specialist.
Thoughts on the DL? I prefer to trade Darryl Tapp and keep the other 5 DEs. I don’t want Antonio Dixon here. I hope we can deal him for another DT who better fits the Washburn system. I get the argument that he’s a run stuffer, but watch the tape from this summer and he’s not doing that well. I’ll pass.
Any shot at cutting Dixon and keeping Trotter or Ogbu as the 5th DT (inactive for games)? I don’t see that. Trotter doesn’t look like a keeper. Ogbu has shown progress. I want him on the P-squad. I’d rather have another DT in place of Dixon that I think can contribute this year if needed.
What do we do at CB? The locks are DRC, Nam, Boykin, and Marsh. That leaves Hanson, Hughes, and Lindley fighting for 1 or 2 jobs. I’m leaning toward cutting Hanson. Still haven’t decided on 5 or 6 CBs. Trying to figure out the active roster for gamedays is the tricky part.
Do we just keep 5 WRs? Sure seems that way. Marvin McNutt hasn’t done much in the preseason. He hasn’t looked bad, but I don’t know that he’s done enough to earn a roster spot. Ideal candidate for the P-squad. Won’t shock me if they keep him on the roster. Eagles need to see when they think Riley Cooper will return to action.
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The new MAQB column is up. Gimpy had some good thoughts on Russell Wilson and short QBs.