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Offense Has Many Pieces In Place

Posted Feb 19, 2013

There is, as the team likes to say, "open competition" at every position and that's the way it should be for an NFL team in February. Truth is, though, that the Eagles have some pieces in place for an offense that might not be that far away ...

Clearly, of course, the team must make sure it has a quarterback for 2013 and beyond who can handle all of what Chip Kelly's offensive scheme demands (exactly what those requirements are, we don't quite know yet). There is, at this point, competition, with Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Dennis Dixon and Trent Edwards on board.

Whoever wins the job is going to have a lot of talent around him. The Eagles have the makings of a very good offensive line in place -- they have starters in place in left tackle Jason Peters (assuming he returns to full health), left guard Evan Mathis, center Jason Kelce (making the same assumption as with Peters) and tackle/guard Todd Herremans (also returning from injury) -- and could very well add to the mix in free agency and/or the draft. The receivers are explosive and versatile. Tight ends Brent Celek and Clay Harbor can move around the formation, get into good matchups, and make plays down the field.

And the running backs, who could and should be the centerpiece of the offensive scheme, are as deep and talented as any group the Eagles have had. LeSean McCoy, for all of his concussion problems last season, still compiled 1,213 yards from scrimmage, averaged 4.2 yards per carry and gained 840 rushing yards behind the ever-changing offensive line. When McCoy was sidelined, rookie Bryce Brown took advantage of his playing time to offer a glimpse of what is an enormously talented skill set.

If the Eagles are going to address the offense in the weeks to come, where do they add?

The offensive line is a possibility, for sure. The draft is said to be loaded with prospects, and there could be a fairly sizable number of offensive tackles available. Do the Eagles see Herremans, for example, as a tackle or a guard? Is Danny Watkins in the picture? What about the younger linemen -- Dennis Kelly comes to mind -- who gained valuable experience last season?

Would the Eagles invest the fourth pick in the 2013 draft on an offensive lineman and shore up an area and, possibly, make it great?

Other questions for the offensive side of the ball: How does fullback Stanley Havili fit into the scheme? Just how much does Kelly envision using a fullback? Is that position more suited for a "move" player, an H-back type of player who offers more of a threat with the football in his hands?

At tight end, Celek is a tough guy and a terrific team player who has been very, very productive when given the chance, but is his makeup what Kelly wants? Does Kelly want what some teams have -- a wide receiver in a tight end's body who is a vertical threat in the passing game?

Even at wide receiver, there have to be questions asked. What can the scheme do to make DeSean Jackson more explosive and consistent in the game plan? Is Jeremy Maclin the kind of catch-and-run receiver that Kelly desires? Does Jason Avant fit the bill here as a slot receiver? Is Riley Cooper enough to be the team's "big" receiver?

The list goes on and on. There is talent here on offense, and probably enough to score big points should the offensive line improve with good health and another front-line starter -- whether that comes from a step forward from somebody like Watkins -- emerges to fit in, and if the Eagles get good, quality, consistent play from the quarterback position. But because we don't yet know what Kelly is looking for, and we don't know the scheme and we don't know what Kelly thinks of the current roster all we have is ... questions. And lots of anticipation.

With free agency starting March 12, the Eagles have their decisions to make. How aggressive are they going to be in the market? Who is a tradable commodity on this roster? Is there such a thing as an "untouchable" player currently here?

The sense here is that the Eagles have their plan in place, at least in terms of who they want to address prior to March 12 and who they want to target and approach from March 12 on. How many signings can we expect? No idea here.

Since Kelly was hired the coaching staff and general manager Howie Roseman have been unable to talk too much about their intentions, an approach that isn't likely to change. The team isn't going to spell out its plan to the world. But soon enough -- three weeks from now free agency starts!!!! -- we're going to see the strategy unfolding.

With that comes the sense of what the coaching staff thinks it has and where it thinks the team must add. From this vantage point, the offense is not far away from being outstanding. A good addition here, a scheme tweak there, and, most important, developing the right quarterback, could make this offense very tough to stop in the season that just can't get here quickly enough.

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