In his weekly e-mailbag, ESPN's John Clayton received a question about whether there is any hope for the Eagles' defense this year. Clayton responded by stating that he doesn't think "the Eagles are too far away from being a pretty good defense."
"Last year was a major trauma," Clayton wrote. "(Sean) McDermott did well under the circumstances replacing the late Jim Johnson, but the transition wasn't easy. The biggest problem came when the Eagles faced great quarterbacks. They need to tighten up their defense in those games, but I think they will."
The Eagles will see some great quarterbacks in 2010 as well. Aside from Dallas' Tony Romo and the Giants' Eli Manning in the NFC East, the Eagles will see Indianapolis' Peyton Manning, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Houston's Matt Schaub and Atlanta's Matt Ryan this season. You can add Brett Favre to the mix if he returns to the Vikings.
Clayton believed that leadership was also an issue with the defense last year after the departure of Brian Dawkins.
"Losing Brian Dawkins also was tough because of his leadership, but you knew that was going to happen because of his age," Clayton wrote.
It didn't help that one of the expected leaders in Stewart Bradley was lost for the season because of a knee injury last August. The return of Jeremiah Trotter for the season certainly helped in the leadership department, but the return of Bradley should certainly help matters there.
One thing that Clayton declared was that the scheme is not the issue. The addition of Darryl Tapp should help matters up front and if Quintin Mikell has a trusted partner alongside him at safety – whether it's Marlin Jackson, Quintin Demps or Macho Harris - the secondary should be much improved. The Eagles allowed the most touchdown passes of the Andy Reid era last year, but the return of cornerback Ellis Hobbs and an expected bounce-back year from slot corner Joselio Hanson should help tame that number.
Plus, the Eagles have four of the first 87 picks in this year's draft which could certainly be used to tie up any loose ends on defense.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:04 a.m., March 31