So I'm in Marty Mornhinweg's office, tape recorder out, trying to be professional and ask the questions that need to be asked, knowing he is only going to say so much. What I want to do is stand up and speak with urgency and ask him how much Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Cornelius Ingram are going to play as rookies. I want to ask how Donovan McNabb is going to be a better quarterback with all of these new pieces around him. I *want *to know specifically what the Eagles are going to do to score more touchdowns and settle for fewer field goals in 2009.
But this is a professional setting. You get a chance to ask a question and you ask it. You don't embarrass yourself by suggesting the Eagles stunk on offense last year. You don't sit there and tear apart a facet of what happened last year without first understanding that the Eagles scored a franchise-record number of points in a season and that, while they were inconsistent in some areas, they were very, very good in other areas.
Seriously, though, I want to know everything you want to know. I want to know how this book is going to read for the season. I want to know if the last chapter is going to finish with a Lombardi Trophy. I want to know how much different the X's and O's are going to be. So I'm asking Mornhinweg about that, about the scheme of the offense and if anything different is going to be apparent for Eagles fans and, um, you know, he isn't ready to give up too much because, truthfuly, he doesn't know what September and beyond is going to bring.
"Well, you always try to play to your strengths," starts Mornhinweg. "I think we have a lot of strengths on this team, in this offense. It starts up front, so we'll see how we progress. Each team sort of finds its own identity either in training camp, in the preseason or early in the regular season. Sometimes it is exactly as you perceive it and then there are other times when you do something better than you thought and then there are times when you fall short of your expectations in certain areas and you have to adjust.
"I know this: We have what we think is going to be an excellent group overall. We also have a lot of work to do. We have to detail our effort every day and then go from there. That's how we look at things on a daily basis."
Now, you may say that Mornhinweg just gave me a non-answer. I disagree. I think he was effusive in his response, because he's absolutely correct. How, exactly, are the Eagles supposed to know how it is all going to work out? It's still May. They have a couple of camps and then the Organized Team Activities to work through before they even get to training camp. And then they have, what?, three weeks at Lehigh? And then four preseason games?
And then the regular season begins?
There is too much work to do before it makes any sense for a coach to really, truly know what he has. I've talked to a lot of coaches. The expectations are certainly high. I don't believe the philosophy will change dramatically, but you know the Eagles are going to add their tweaks and work on their matchups on a week-to-week basis. Should the offensive line live up to the hype, well, everything is going to fall into place for the offense.
At the same time, I can't tell you -- nor can the coaches -- how much Maclin or McCoy or Ingram will play. What the Eagles know is that they have more potential depth than they have ever had from top to bottom with this offense. They know McNabb has a lot of game. They know that Brian Westbrook, when healthy, and he is now, is one of the best in the game. They know the returning receivers are good, and that those players fit very well into the roles they have.
They know that Brent Celek matured before their very eyes last year, and that he is going to be fed even more from the offensive trough in 2009.
"I don't think there is any question that he is ready for the role. He has proven that," said Mornhinweg. "He has developed very well. Tom Melvin (tight ends coach) has done an excellent job and all the tight ends who play for Tom play at a high level. He does a heck of a job coaching that position. Every time we gave Brent a little bit more last year, he succeeded. We would give him a little bit more and he would succeed. A little bit more, a little bit more. That's the way it went all season.
"Brent is a player who is a consistent performer. I think it is important to know what Brent's strengths are and you work him there. He produces. He is consistent. He is dependable. You call his number and he's going to get it done. You call a run to his side and he's going to get it (block) done. You call a run away from him and he is going to get the cutoff block. He is just so consistent and dependable, and there is a trust factor that goes into it. Coaches and the rest of the players naturally trust the man to get the job done, and that is so very important."
The next time I sit across a desk from Mornhinweg, I'll know more about the offense. He will know more about the offense. We'll have a longer conversation, more specific. Maybe the Eagles will be into the season by then. Who knows?
What the Eagles think is that the best days of the offense are waiting, that the pieces could very well be in place for the kind of offense that can slice and dice with the run and with the pass. But what they know is that they have so much work to do before they have a more accurate sense of how much damage this offense can truly do.
I'd love to know the answers right now. Then again, why? Isn't it more fun to enjoy the journey of the season, the week-to-week ups and downs, and pray it turns out the way we all hope?