LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are special offensive weapons. Unfortunately, they are the only players that opposing defenses fear.
Do the Eagles need more weapons?
This is a tricky question. Some will shout “YES!”. Other answers will be all over the place.
“We need bigger skill players.”
“We need more speed.”
“We need hybrid players that are tough to match-up with.”
And so on.
I think Shady and DJax can be the foundation pieces for an explosive offense. Shady is a special RB. DJax is a unique receiver.
I think you could be a very good offense with them and complementary pieces like Riley Cooper, Brent Celek and Jason Avant…if you had the right QB. Cooper isn’t going to consistently get separation. But he is a big receiver and you can take advantage of his size if you can make tough throws when he is covered, but still “open”. Avant is a terrific slot receiver. He just needs a smart QB that can find him on a regular basis. Celek is a solid TE.
The problem with that trio is that they aren’t weapons. They aren’t going to catch the ball and make things happen. There will be plays here and there, but nothing with consistency. Celek is very hard to tackle, but that’s not the same thing as other TEs who can really run and be dangerous after the catch. These players need the right guy getting them the ball.
Or you can look at teams like the Falcons and Bengals. I think Matt Ryan is overly-criticized, but he’s not an elite QB. Put him on the field with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Harry Douglas and Steven Jackson and Ryan will get you points. Andy Dalton is a big step down from Ryan. But Dalton leads a good offense because he has A.J. Green, Gio Bernard, Marvin Jones, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert.
The Eagles don’t have a stud QB or great overall weapons. Let’s set aside the issue of QB for now.
The thing I would like more than any other is for the Eagles to add another dangerous player on the perimeter. It would be great if the player had average to above-average size. You see the Broncos able to throw WR screens to Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker. It would be interesting to see how defenses would deal with weapons to both sides of the Eagles offense. It really is a bummer that Jeremy Maclin, Arrelious Benn and BJ Cunningham all got hurt this summer. Cunningham is back now, but we’ve not had a chance to see him in action.
One player that can help is Zach Ertz. He has unusual size and skills. I think his development was hurt by missing the spring. Ertz has the physical ability to make plays. He’s just not a consistent player right now.
The Eagles offense needs RAC yards. That’s a big weakness right now. Cooper just isn’t elusive. Avant lacks the athleticism to be a weapon. I would like to see Damaris Johnson used more. Kelly obviously doesn’t like something about his game, whether size, speed or even practice habits. I would like to see another player added that is dangerous with the ball in his hands. This could be a big guy or small guy. Just needs to be someone that can make the first defender miss and turn a short gain into a longer one.
I have no idea if Mac will return next year. Does make a lot of sense for one season. Mac gets a chance to show he’s healthy and the Eagles get to test him in Kelly’s offense. There is risk for both sides. I’m fine with bringing Cooper back, but not projecting him as the starter. I don’t have much interest in bringing back Avant. I love the guy, but in this offense you really do need someone that can catch short passes and then make something happen. That’s just not Jason.
I also wonder if Kelly will want a small WR/RB type. Try to imagine Damaris a bit thicker and definitely faster. Kelly loved those types of guys up at Oregon.
Up until the last 2 weeks, the Eagles offense had been effective and even explosive. The potential is there. The challenge is being able to move the ball and score points consistently. That’s where improved complementary weapons could help. It would not shock me to see the team spend a couple of draft picks on WRs next spring.