Philadelphia Eagles News

Change Among Starters Not Deep As Advertised

In last week's Birdseed feature, we pointed out in the Stat of the Week that the Eagles have retained 74.6 percent of the team's roster since the end of the 2009 regular season, according to a study done by ESPN. That was the 25th lowest percentage in the league. Only one playoff team - the AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts - kept a lower percentage of its players than the Eagles. The Vikings (94.4 percent) brought back the highest percentage of its players back in the league, while the Seahawks (66.1 percent) had the lowest.

The highly esteemed Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, better known for his special teams rankings at the end of each season, put together a chart that listed how many starters each team has lost since the end of last season. According to his research, there are only two teams in the league to lose more starters this off-season than the Eagles.

The Arizona Cardinals have lost a league-high seven starters - three via release, two in trades, one in free agency and another through retirement. The key loss, in Gosselin's view, is that of quarterback Kurt Warner. The Miami Dolphins were second in the league as they lost six starters.

The Eagles were one of six teams to lose five. The chart doesn't list the starters, or the exact criteria, but my guess is he counted running back Brian Westbrook (release), linebacker Will Witherspoon (release), cornerback Sheldon Brown (trade), linebacker Chris Gocong (trade) and quarterback Donovan McNabb (trade). Of course, the Eagles also parted ways with former starters like wide receiver Kevin Curtis and guard Shawn Andrews this off-season.

In reality, the Eagles have lost two starters from 2009 who were slated to be starters once again in 2010 - McNabb and Brown. LeSean McCoy was the feature back for most of last season as Westbrook battled through injury. Gocong had lost his job to rookie Moise Fokou and Witherspoon did not figure into the team's plans for this season.

While there is seismic change at certain positions like quarterback, by and large, most of the pieces remain in place - especially on offense. The defense has a lot of new faces at key spots - weakside linebacker Ernie Sims, defensive end Darryl Tapp and most of the 2010 draft class - as well as the return of Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker, but the expectations remain the same.

As new quarterback Kevin Kolb explained after the Organized Team Activity wrapped up last week, head coach Andy Reid is expecting this team to take a step forward in 2010 not a step back. And the Eagles believe they have the talent to do just that.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:10 p.m., June 14

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