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Are Eagles Set With Offense?

Posted Mar 19, 2012

If continuity is an important ingredient in the success of an offense, the Eagles are going to score a ton of points in 2012 ...

They return 10 of 11 starters, minus fullback Owen Schmitt, and retain players who together played about 90 percent of the snaps in 2011.

As free agency heats up -- it's going to heat up, right?! -- you wonder (at least I do) if the Eagles are, reasonably speaking, finished addressing their offense.

I mean, they're going to draft some players to add depth to the offense, players who hopefully will challenge for playing time right away and for a starting job in the very near future. That's a natural cycle for a successful team. Competition creates more victories.

But other than fullback, where second-year man Stanley Havili sits atop the depth chart for now, do you honestly think the Eagles are going to go out and spend huge money on a starting player in free agency? Are they going to use their first-round draft pick on a player to come in and start?

If, say, Alabama running back Trent Richardson were to slip to the 15th spot in the first round in April's draft -- I brought this up many moons ago, and again in a conversation at lunch with my buddy Adam Caplan -- would you want the Eagles to take him?

"Why," said Caplan, "so he can come in and be a backup? He's never going to play."

Certainly, it would be hard to project a rookie unseating LeSean McCoy, but who knows? If you are true to what you say, that players come off the board in the draft according to their ranks, then you take the best player available.

Regardless of position.

I think the Eagles need to get after it on defense with some additions. No question about that. Juan Castillo's group showed a lot of improvement late in 2011, but he needs more pieces with which to work. Defense is a huge priority, and I'm talking about three or four more pieces between the remainder of free agency, the trade route and the draft.

What about the offense? Are the Eagles done there, now that they've got wide receiver DeSean Jackson signed and happy, now that the offensive line is intact and signed long term and now that they have three quarterbacks ready with NFL experience?

Maybe. Maybe not.

We sometimes get lured into thinking we know what the Eagles are going to do, that we know the direction an offseason is going to take. So far, it's been as expected: The Eagles wanted to take care of their own and they have done that. The next step is to go outside the current roster and add some players.

We all think the Eagles will go primarily for defense, which is certainly logical. But there are some offensive spots that could use some attention ..

1. Running Back

I'm a big Dion Lewis fan, but even if he is the Next Great Eagles Running Back, the team needs a third halfback. LeSean McCoy is magical, and Lewis showed his promise in the season finale in 2011, but the Eagles will likely get a third runner.

What would they look for? A bigger running back for short-yardage situations? A combination back like McCoy and Lewis? Someone who has it all, like a Richardson-type player?

There is a glut of running backs still on the streets and in the draft. The Eagles can afford to be choosy here.

2. More Depth On Offensive Line

The Eagles added veteran guard/center Mike Gibson and guard/center Steve Vallos on Monday, a pair of players who add to the interior situation very nicely. I won't pooh-pooh such moves, not after seeing how much Evan Mathis meant to the team in 2011. Howie Roseman signs every player for a reason. There are no throwaway signings.

Having a swing tackle is an important deal here with Winston Justice gone. The Eagles don't have that player on the roster at the moment.

3. A Big WR To Help In Red Zone

This is on my personal wish list, but I'm not sure it is on Andy Reid's wish list. I am looking for every way to score touchdowns and a beast in the red zone would be a wonderful addition. Of course, there are very few of those kinds of players out there, but the draft has a handful of big-bodied pass catchers who might be enticing.

Of course, veteran Plaxico Burress remains available and he has been linked to the Eagles in reports, but the team is saying not a thing. Is there a chance Burress plays here in 2012? Sure. A good chance? I have absolutely no idea what to think.

4. A Fullback With Offensive Skills

Schmitt did a fine job blocking and being a physical tough guy, but he wasn't the traditional West Coast offense fullback and maybe that is more of what the Eagles are looking for at the position. Havili is 240 pounds and he was a weapon at USC. Of course, he has not done it at this level.

There is going to be competition for Havili in training camp. You can be sure of that. We shall see if he is up to the task of being a versatile fullback who excels in pass blocking, opening holes in the running game and being a threat in both the run game and the pass game.

5. Who Is The QB Of The Future?

I can tell you with authority that the Eagles truly like Mike Kafka and believe he can be a starting quarterback here. But he hasn't done it in a game, so there has to be some reservation. Trent Edwards has had his ups and downs in the NFL and is not guaranteed a roster spot or playing time here.

Will the Eagles, if they satisfy all of their needs in free agency, use a high draft pick on a quarterback in April and take somebody like, say, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins? It's something to think about as the Eagles look to the future -- several years away, we hope -- without Michael Vick.

The offense, then, may not need starters. But it can always get better with the addition of good players, and it is a side of the ball the Eagles will not ignore for the rest of this offseason.

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