Everybody has an idea. Everybody has a plan. As NFL teams huddle in privacy and strategize for the upcoming free agency period and then the draft, fans and media have their own ideas on how to "get to the next level."
Nowhere is the action faster or more furious than on our very own Discussion Boards, so here I'll answer some of the questions from the Ask Dave Spadaro section that pertain to, well, the state of the Eagles ...
Westbrook 36 has a plan for the Eagles to move up into the top 5 of the draft and shock the world. "I believe when you have a chance to get a special player at WR, especially in a WC offense you do it providing you don't give up too much. In looking at the draft point values it appears we can move up to 4 to get Crabtree by giving up our 1st round pick this year (21), our second round pick this year and our 1st next year. This still leaves us with a 1st this year. *I say get Crabtree with the 4th, get the TE Pettigrew with the other 1st and pick up that big back out of Liberty in the 3rd round Jennings."
*I give credit to you, westbrook 36, for at least applying the draft point values to your suggestion. And I think it would be GREAT to have Michael Crabtree, tight end Brandon Pettigrew and even running back Rashad Jennings from the draft (although I profess to know NOTHING about the draft, and I leave that up to the true experts.)
However, I have to ask you a few questions: How in the world do you expect to address the Eagles' other key needs, specifically the offensive line? Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in a few weeks, and Runyan had surgery that he said in a radio interview will keep him sidelined until June. Will Pettigrew, probably the best tight end in the draft, even be there at 28? And what makes you think a running back from Liberty can make the huge jump to the NFL and be someone the Eagles can rely on as a rookie? Furthermore, is Crabtree the real deal? Is he that much better than the rest of the wide receiver class, or will the scouts downgrade him between now and the draft because he isn't a blazing-fast receiver?
It all sounds great, though. Oh, and there is one other point, a minor one, I admit: Would Seattle entertain such a trade offer? It does take two to tango, you know.
Westbrook 36, I give you credit and, I would love to see the Eagles shake things up in this draft. To me, though, so much of what they do in the draft depends on how much they can accomplish in free agency. I expect the Eagles to be aggressive in that free-agency period, whether they are signing players or making trades. They have plenty of cap room. I'm excited about free agency, and I can't wait for it to get here.
Smamm is interested in forming a family feel on the right side of the Eagles' line of scrimmage. His question: Dave - Do you think the Eagles would take a chance on Stacy Andrews in free agency? I've been thinking about the logic of this.
The idea, of course, is that Stacy would team with Shawn Andrews and the Eagles would live happily ever after. A couple of factors to consider, and I won't talk directly about Stacy because he is a member of the Bengals and still under contract, but I want to remind you that he suffered a serious knee injury late in the 2008 season and is a medical question mark for whatever team he plays for in 2009.
Shawn Andrews is still, as you know, a mystery as far as I'm concerned. I don't know what to expect from him this season. I don't know where he is physically, although he was making excellent progress with his recovery from back surgery and may have had a chance to play had the Eagles reached Super Bowl 43. Obviously, though, Andrews has to be ready for the mental part of the game, the commitment and the lousy times between now and the regular season. The players don't like spring practices and they don't enjoy training camp one bit. Where is Andrews' head? He had a really tough year in 2008. Everybody felt for him. At the same time, the Eagles have to move on with or without Andrews. It is up to him to decide if he is ready to go in 2009.
Eaglejames20wants to know what happened to wide receiver Reggie Brown, who, not very long ago at all, was considered by the Eagles a valuable piece of the offense. He asks: "Every year he had made improvements, and then this year he just dropped off the map. I know he got injured in training camp, and DeSean Jackson emerged. Even when he was healthy, though, he lost his spot. In the NFC Championship Game he was on the sideline in street clothes and Greg Lewis was playing (and dropping passes of course). *Was it a work ethic issue or a problem with the coaching staff or something of that nature?"
*Thanks for the question. First of all, I have to defend Greg Lewis. He is a very good role receiver for the Eagles. Yeah, he dropped a tough pass against the Cardinals and he should have caught it, but I can't remember very many times over the years here when Lewis dropped a pass. I'm amazed at how much razzing a guy who is a fifth or sixth receiver on this team gets. Whether he is here or elsewhere in 2009, Lewis will contribute. He is a good football player. Not a starter. Not a star. But a good role player.
Now, on to Brown. Yeah, he was among the biggest disappointments of 2008. In fact, I would list Brown, cornerback Lito Sheppard, tight end L.J. Smith and Andrews as my four biggest disappointments. The Eagles counted on all four of those players to help a lot last year, and none of them played as much or produced at nearly the rate the Eagles needed. Brown's issue was not related to his work ethic or his attitude. Both are great. That is what is so strange about the season he had. Brown had injuries and then was bypassed by Jackson and Jason Avant and even Hank Baskett on the depth chart and he never recovered.
I am not sure what to make of Brown and how he fits in this season. I suspect the Eagles will try to upgrade wide receiver. How and with whom, I have no clue. Brown, I think, will come back in training camp and compete. His time here is clearly at a crossroads. The Eagles invested a second-round draft pick in Brown and then they gave him a long-term contract and he made progress until 2008. Very strange. He still has talent and certainly must be more consistent.
Chriscross30is hoping the Eagles go out and get their stud wide receiver in the off-season. "Will the Eagles finally get a big-time wide receiver? Imagine like a Boldin, Jackson and Curtis. That would make our offense as good as the Pats 2 years ago. We would be unstoppable."
I would love to see a big-time receiver added to what I think is already a good group. Jackson, by the way, is going to be a big-time receiver, in my opinion, if he continues to make progress the way he did as a rookie. The kid is special, I'm telling you. But I know what you are looking for. You want a 6 feet 4, 220-pound superstar, right? Well, I think the Eagles will keep their eyes open, but there are certainly no guarantees. Not even close. Those "unstoppable" offenses, like Dallas', that feature superstar wide receivers ultimately find that it requires a lot more than simply having star wide receivers to make the offense go.
The Eagles need to be more productive at wide receiver in the red zone, for sure. They also need a tight end to work with Brent Celek to create that threat. And they also need to run the football more efficiently.
See, I hear what so many fans are saying about the wide receivers. And, yeah, it would be great to add another playmaker here. But I have already said that I think the Eagles have playmakers. Could they use another one? Sure. Go make a deal. Find one. It isn't that easy. I will tell you this: As they did last year, the Eagles are going to be aggressive. They are going to explore deals. They are going to have conversations with teams. We'll see what happens. The Eagles added Jackson last year. If they can add somebody who makes a similar impact -- at either wide receiver, tight end or running back -- this offense will be tremendous.
But for me, the off-season is not about "Wide receiver-or-bust." The Eagles have other needs.
Finally, Fla Nickwants to know about winning games in the final minutes. *"Do you think that the performances of the QB's in the post season, and knowing that WE haven't ever seen that type of performance in those same situations, will in any way factor in the way the Front Office reacts during the draft and/or free agency period?"
*It is true that the Eagles have fallen short in key games in their two-minute drives. No doubt that drive in St. Louis is haunting, and the interception against Tampa Bay was a killer and so on. And everyone understands that the offense did not capitalize in the final few minutes in Arizona this year. Yes, the two-minute drill has to get better. Whether the Eagles have a new design, whether they let Donovan McNabb call his own plays, whether they practice it more ... whatever. It has to get better.
It didn't take the Super Bowl to make the Eagles realize that. While the Eagles scored a lot of points prior to the end of the first half this year - their 50 points ranked second in the NFL, behind the Giants' 52 points -- they haven't been as good late in games. Andy Reid knows it. McNabb knows that he was not accurate on throws in the drive that came up short in Arizona. He is completely aware of the areas that he needs to work on, and he will work on them very hard in the months ahead.
I'll be interested to see what the Eagles do to improve that phase of their attack. It's strange, because early in his career McNabb was outstanding driving down the field at the end of games and winning them. He had four comebacks in 2000 (one game which the Eagles lost when Al Del Greco kicked a field goal for Tennessee) and another two comebacks in 2001. Then there were a few more in the seasons to follow.
The success rate hasn't been there of late, and it must be addressed. Yeah, it is part of what the Eagles need to improve. It isn't all on McNabb. Everyone, coaches included, have to make it better.