The work continues. The draft prep grinds on. Player evaluations are ongoing. Scheme tweaks move along. In the midst of this work stoppage, the Eagles' coaches and personnel team work in a "business-as-usual" mode, understanding that when the labor issues are resolved, the teams that are best prepared and who have used this time the best are the ones who are going to benefit the most.
So it was not unusual on Monday for general manager Howie Roseman to go through the usual ritual: Watch film until his eyes bleed and work through his list of draft-possible players who interest the Eagles. And it should surprise nobody that the Eagles have their wish list and their action plan ready when free agency begins.
From Juan Castillo working on his scheme, to Jim Washburn learning more about his group of defensive linemen, to Howard Mudd making notes on his players along the offensive line, the Eagles are working and preparing and very aware that the best way to make this a Super Bowl team is to treat these unusual circumstances the correct way:
Work hard. Take advantage of the time and be prepared for anything.
Want some clues as to the plan for the draft and free agency? I'm still searching. The Eagles are going to address the entire roster. Here are some directions I think they should consider ...
IMPROVE THE SECONDARY
Right cornerback is an obvious need, and I'm not sure there are a lot of options should there be free agency. We know the big-ticket player (no names) is going to command upwards of $20 million, right? Can the Eagles possibly push that kind of money to the position and at the same time pay quarterback Michael Vick in the neighborhood of $16 million?
If cornerback is a one-player pool in free agency, then the Eagles may have to turn to the draft. And there are some good prospects here, headed by Patrick Peterson from LSU. He is a top five draft pick. Can the Eagles get up that high? Is he worth that kind of price?
Beyond Peterson, there are some good players, but are they ready to step in and play right away at a high level?
Cornerback isn't the only issue. Free safety Nate Allen is coming off a major injury, and while he is making great progress, he is still coming off a major injury. Will he be ready to play at a high level? Quintin Mikell is unsigned. Does he come back? Are youngsters like Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson able to be full-time players?
The draft isn't said to have a lot of big-time safeties. Do the Eagles commit, then, to Mikell? Do they look elsewhere in free agency? Is there an upgrade, a dominating player to man the strong safety position?
The defensive secondary is a huge priority. The Eagles have to keep their options open and have Plans A, B and C in place.
FIND ANOTHER PASS RUSHER
I think Washburn is going to really improve the current group, and I like the talent here. But the Eagles need not only to get more from what they have, but to add another weapon to take some of the pressure off of Trent Cole. The draft is loaded with standout talent along the defensive line. Wouldn't Washburn like a nice, shiny toy to work with in his first season here?
Now, of course, the Eagles have had mixed success drafting defensive ends. Most teams have mixed success, at best. It is a difficult transition from college end or tackle to the NFL. The offensive linemen are bigger and stronger and more technically sound than there were in college.
But with Brandon Graham's injury, with Juqua Parker's age, with some of the inconsistency up front last year, I think the Eagles need to bring in another player or two up front for Washburn to mold.
Give me a veteran who has proven himself in the league. Give me a highly-rated rookie who loves the game.
Then see what Washburn can do as he turns the linemen loose in 2011.
STABILIZE THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE OFFENSIVE LINE
The Eagles have something with Winston Justice, King Dunlap and Austin Howard up front. They are going to work with those players. I am interested to see how Mudd does with talented players. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think Dunlap can really be something with those long arms and athletic feet. He made great strides last year. Another year of improvement would be welcomed.
Right guard is the big question here. The Eagles have a gaping hole here. They swung and missed on Stacy Andrews. Nick Cole wasn't the answer. Max Jean-Gilles was OK, but not dominating.
I want a dominating player here, and it doesn't matter if he is a rookie or a veteran. This has to be a high need for the Eagles.
Get the guard, and then see who wins the battle with Justice, Dunlap and even Howard working with Mudd when the practices finally begin.
Also, that center position bears watching. Jamaal Jackson feels great. He is going into 2011 with the mindset of claiming back that starting job from Mike McGlynn, who played good football in the first extended action of his career.
ROCKET FUEL FOR THE RETURN GAME
DeSean Jackson is as good as it gets in the punt game, but I want the Eagles to bring in somebody else. Maybe that somebody else is Sinorice Moss, a veteran who was signed a couple of months ago. Maybe that somebody comes in the draft, or in free agency.
But the Eagles need more from the return game, and they would be better off leaving Jackson fresh on the sidelines waiting for his turn to go in as a wide receiver.
The kickoff return game has to be a weapon for Bobby April and the Eagles.