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Eagles Offense Needs Upgrading

By: Nick Popyack

       The Eagles need to upgrade on offense. This isn’t coming from someone who thinks Donovan McNabb needs to go; it’s coming from someone who thinks the Eagles organization needs to listen to their franchise quarterback.

       Last offseason, we all remember McNabb requesting ‘weapons’, even if they weren’t on the offensive side of the ball. Well, the Eagles went out and got some: CB Asante Samuel and WR DeSean Jackson. Samuel provided a spark for the defense, which jumped to 3rd in the league and best in the NFC. Jackson did the same for the offense, leading the team in receptions and yards. Both players were tremendous contributors in the post-season also: Jackson hauled in 11 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown, and Samuel intercepted 2 passes and returned one for a touchdown.
       Last offseason, the Eagles organization made the necessary moves that took their team one game away from the Super Bowl. This year, they need to make moves if they hope to win any games inside their division.
       The other teams in the NFC East were already formidable before the offseason began. Now, they’re starting to look just plain scary. Every team has signed at least 2 big name defensive free agents except the Eagles.
       The Redskins have made the biggest splashes, signing DT Albert Haynesworth and CB DeAngelo Hall to big contracts.
       The Giants responded to their defensive coordinator’s leave with a shopping spree of their own. They signed LB Michael Boley, DT Rocky Bernard, and DE Chris Canty to multiple-year contracts.
       The Cowboys signed DL Igor Olshansky and veteran LB Keith Brooking. Though these signings may have been overshadowed by the releases of WR Terrell Owens and S Roy Williams, it’s clear that each of the other teams in the NFC East wants to upgrade on defense.
       It seems strange that the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys made these moves. The Redskins and Giants were both top 5 defenses, and the Cowboys led the league in sacks while still being the 8th overall defense. Though they may be questionable, these moves cannot be ignored. That’s why the Eagles need to improve their offense, fast.
       The most glaring need for the Eagles is the left tackle position. Letting Tra Thomas go was a bold move, especially if their backup plan was Winston Justice. I’m not ready to say he won’t be a good player, but I think remember the only game he started; vs. the Giants, he allowed 6 sacks.
       If the Eagles think Justice can get the job done, he better be able to. If they have a better idea of who can fill the void, they should get on that as soon as possible. The left tackle position is crucial to any team’s success. If the Eagles don’t pick up a good replacement in free agency, I would not be one to stop them from trading up in the NFL draft to get a stud OT that would start day one.
       The next biggest need, and perhaps the most sought after position by Eagles fans for the past few years, is the wide receiver position. Though it would be great to see future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison wearing green and white, I’m not sure he’s what the Eagles need. They have plenty of speed at the position with DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis; what they need is a big, physical receiver that can catch the ball over the heads of defensive backs and also pick up yards after the catch by running through them.
       There have been rumors of a trade with Arizona for Anquan Boldin, and, if it happens, that’d be great. The Eagles could use a receiver that has his size and speed, and gets separation as well as Boldin does; in my mind, he’s one of the best in the league. If the Eagles could trade for him, it’d be one step towards a championship offense.
       Another area that was a struggle for the Eagles last year was the fullback position. Actually, scratch the word ‘struggle’; ‘disaster’ is more fitting. The Eagles tried just about everything they could, from Tony Hunt, a halfback, to Dan Klecko, a defensive tackle. They used Kyle Eckel sparingly, but eventually just put in another halfback, Correll Buckhalter, to use with Brian Westbrook. Needless to say, the Eagles could use a great fullback.
       Leonard Weaver, a former Seahawk and current free agent, is a player that would fit perfectly in the Eagles offense. Not only would he be a great blocker, but he would also be the short yardage back the Eagles could have used last year. Plus, he’s a great receiver, which is always a plus. Yes, Weaver would be an excellent fit
       The last ‘need’ is an arguable one: the tight end position. While L.J. Smith was let go and looks to be signed by another team in the next week, I don’t think the Eagles will try to pick up a big name TE via trade or use up an early round draft pick on one. Brent Celek has certainly stepped into the starting lineup with ease, and has excelled when his number has been called. One game that stands out in particular is the Seahawks game in ’08. Celek recorded 6 catches for a team-high 131 yards, showing that McNabb trusts him, and that trust is well deserved.
       Another reason I believe Celek will be the Eagles starting TE in ’09 is his play in the postseason. Over the three games, Celek hauled in 19 receptions for 3 touchdowns, most on the team over that three game stretch. If the Eagles want to try to trade for a player such as Tony Gonzalez, I won’t stop them, but at this point, I think they have bigger holes that need filling.
       The Eagles were carried mainly by their dominant defense in 2008, but their offense was just as big a part. With the defense stable, and the free agents being signed around their division, it’s safe to say that the Eagles need an upgrade on offense if they hope to return to the postseason in the 2009 season. Whether it’s on the offensive line at left tackle, in the wide receiving corps, in the backfield at fullback, or at the tight end position, they need some change for the better.

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