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, all the time

Admittedly, baseball is occupying most of my sports time these days, but fear not, Eagles fans, I am on top of the preseason. Here's a quick look back at the past week, and my impressions, concerns and thoughts on the team, position by position.

  • Sean Andrews is hurt, badly. Or is he? I have no idea what to make of this story, and to be honest with you, the thought of missing Andrews for the season is not something I want to confront at this point, so I'm adopting a wait-and-see philosophy, for the time being.
  • BrentCelek.jpgMonday's game was just terrible. Imagine every loss from the past three years. Now think about why the Eagles lost most of those games. Here's a hint: walk don't ____. The Eagles couldn't run the ball and they couldn't stop the run. Granted, the first units hardly played, but this game was embarrassing. Reid and the coaches flipped out following this game, and it looks like the players got the message. The lone bright spot for the Eagles was rookie TE Brent Celek, 4 catches for 59 yards.
  • Friday's game was like day and night. Donovan McNabb saw his first action since suffering a devastating knee injury last season vs. Tennessee, and he looked sharp. (6 for 9, 138 yards). Tony Hunt punched in 2 TDs from the goal line. Lito did what Lito does. (see video below) Perhaps the best sign from the game came from David Akers, who kicked two 50+ yd. FGs with different holders (Sav once, and Dirk once).
  • Jerome McDougal and Ryan Moats are done for the season. Not a shock with McDougal, and Moats was on his way to being cut (or heading to the practice squad). You never like to see injuries of this magnitude, but these guys weren't going to contribute much.
  • Vegas odds on the Eagles:
    • Wins over/under: 9.5 (My bet: over)
    • Representing the NFC in the Super Bowl: Bet pays 6 to 1.
    • Winning the Super Bowl: Bet pays 20 to 1.

QB (A touch of angst) It looks like McNabb is going to be healthy, and read for the opener. If he's right, he's a top five QB, and he makes this offense the most explosive in the NFC. The only reason I'm not 100% confident in this position is that there's always going to be the fear that he goes down to an injury. I don't think Feeley can lead this team in his absence the way Garcia did last year, and Kolb is nowhere near ready to take over. This year, more than any in the past, McNabb's health is critical to Eagle success.

RB (Not worried) Brian Westbrook is the most explosive back in the NFC. He found a way to stay healthy all year last year, and he's ready for a heavier work load. Backing him up are Correll Buckhalter and new arrival Tony Hunt, who is trying to solidify his role as the short-yardage back. In a nutshell, I think this is has a chance to be the best Eagle backfield since the three-headed monster of Duce, Westbrook and Buckhalter, talent-wise. Production-wise, if the teams is committed to the run for a full 16 games, we should see a lot of teams get steamrolled by this offense.

WR (Not worried) When Donte Stallworth left, I felt a twinge of worry, but when you look at his season numbers, they shouldn't be that hard to replace. The guy who will nominally take his spot on the outside, Kevin Curtis, is more durable, if not as fast, and he's made a great impression thus far in camp. Reggie Brown is ready to step forward as the true number one, and I like Hank Baskett and a few of the rookies as well. This group should perform admirably this season.

TE (worried) L.J. Smith's injury situation has me extremely worried. Even if he was healthy, his contract situation would have me worried. I like what I've seen of Celek, but he's a rookie in a very difficult offense to learn. Matt Schobel is not my idea of an impact tight end. If Smith can't go, it's going to be Schobel starting. His presence will make it harder for the outside guys to get open. If Smith comes back, this position will be fine.

OL (extremely worried) Shawn Andrews is the best player on this offensive line. If his injury is serious, it could mean serious trouble for the running game and the passing game. McNabb will not be as mobile this season, he needs time to make passes, and the team needs him to stay on the field. Add in an injury to iron-man Jon Runyan and I'm officially on the verge of panic. That being said, both guys could be on the field on opening day. If Andrews is hurt, his likely replacement is Max Jean-Gilles, an absolute monster listed at 358 lbs. I actually have a lot of faith in the coaching staff when it comes to filling holes in the offensive line, I just don't want to see them have to fill the biggest hole.

DL (skeptical) Yes, I've heard the lip service, but for my money, this unit is still severely undersized. I don't think the Eagles did a good job of improving their point-of-attack strength against the run, instead shoring up the LB position. If Jevon can stay healthy, this unit should put a ton of pressure on opposing QBs, but that's only half of the battle. Patterson and Bunkley really need to show a lot more than they did last year. I'm not confident they can.

LB (cautiously optimistic) I love the addition of Takeo Spikes. I think he's going to the Pro Bowl this year, and I think Jim Johnson has a new toy to play with. The questions: Can Gocong handle the weak side? Is Trotter a viable starter? I have a feeling at least one of the backups is going to see significant time, which one will it be, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither or Tank Johnson? (I love football players named Tank, by the way).

DB (not worried at all {if Dawk is healthy}) Brian Dawkins is the best player on this defense, he may even be the best player on this team. If his Achilles problems don't linger, he makes this defensive backfield the team's strongest unit. Considine wasn't horrible last season, but he wasn't good either. He's gained some weight, so hopefully he'll be able to keep his feet more often this year. Lito is a playmaker, pure and simple. I think Brown gets a bad rap, and William Thomas has good size as the nickel back. Quentin Mickell may be the answer at SS if Considine reverts to his weakling ways.

Special Teams (concerned) Possibly a new punter, new holder, new long-snapper, new punt returner, new kick returner and a new coordinator. Doesn't sound like a formula for success to me. Change isn't always a bad thing, though. Jeremy Bloom looks like he could be the real deal in the return game, and having a guy who can swing field position back there returning kicks can be a huge boost to a team. Sav Rocca is another guy who can swing the field-position battle in your favor, if he makes the team (plus, you know they're dying to run a fake punt with him, or maybe even a fake FG with him running the option). The biggest concern, in my opinion, is the holding/snapping situation. Akers was a much better kicker when Koy Detmer was holding for him. Either Rocca or Dirk (whoever wins the job as punter) will be the holder, and they'll be receiving snaps from Dorenbos. This is a crucial component to any team's success, I'm hoping they can get the job done.

Coaching (one concern) I think Andy Reid has done an exceptional job with the Eagles. That being said, I'm not 100% sure he's going to have the patience to stick with the formula that got them to the playoffs last year. The pass/run ratio needs to be closer to 50/50, like it was down the stretch last year. I'm a little concerned that a stifled running game early on will result in a 70/30 split before we know it. Other than that, no worries here.
by Brian on Aug 19 2007
Tags: Brian Dawkins | Donovan McNabb | Preseason | Shawn Andrews |