I read a story on Wednesday in the Philadelphia Daily News about offensive guard Stacy Andrews under a headline saying Andrews is "ready to dominate," and it got me thinking about the right side of an offensive line that really is an enormous key to the Eagles' offensive structure this season. Andrews and Winston Justice. Is this the twosome of today and for many years to come?
That appears to be the intention. The Eagles committed to both players with long-term contracts -- Andrews as an unrestricted free agent last year and Justice after he raised his game tremendously in 2009. After the smoke has cleared in this off-season -- the Eagles released Shawn Andrews, who in the back of many minds at least factored in as a possibility to challenge at either position, and they reportedly re-worked Stacy Andrews' contract enough to make both sides happy and keep him him -- the right side of the line now starts with Andrews at right guard and Justice at right tackle.
There are internal challenges coming. Max Jean-Gilles wants to start, and he has shown to be a starting-caliber player over the last two seasons. Mike McGlynn -- who probably will get looks at guard and center in the spring and summer -- wants to play. Fenuki Tupou has a chance to push at tackle. And the numbers are going to grow along the offensive line through the draft weekend, one way or another.
But right now, as we melt into April, it is no foolish joke: Stacy Andrews and Winston Justice are the guys right of center.
We wonder about the picture. Justice has made a remarkable turnaround from a player who saw so little action for three seasons. Then, all of a sudden, after Shawn Andrews was injured, Justice had his opportunity to step up. He showed maturity and growth and fight and by and large was very solid. Now he has confidence and he has an idea what it takes to play well for 16 weeks. A big off-season is critical for Justice as he looks to continue to the next level. Teams have film on him. They will find weaknesses. They will develop attacking strategies.
And Justice has to respond. That he is a "good story" means nothing. He has to be dominating right tackle. That's the goal for every lineman, isn't it?
So there is that word again. "Dominate." That is Andrews' goal after his miserable 2009.
Can he get to that point on the field? Remember that Andrews was a franchise player for the Bengals prior to the 2008 season, prior to hurting his knee. He was a tackle then. He was valued tremendously. And then he was hurt and then he became an Eagle and then Andrews hardly played at all.
Now he is here, looking to "dominate."
How close Andrews gets to that goal, and how Justice handles the challenge of improvement, are two huge keys for the Eagles offense and all of its explosive parts.
*NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT *
- No major reaction to the preseason schedule, other than wonder what happened to the easy-to-get-to preseason games against Baltimore and New England? Road games in Cincinnati and Kansas City? Yo, Eagles fans out there, can we get a little something, something organized? Let's get some ideas going on the Discussion Boards. Maybe a day-of-game party, a tailgate, or something?
- The restricted free agent contracts are being signed, a natural order of business. They do have some meaning other than usual business, though. Any player who signs his tender contract can be traded, and those players are now eligible to take part in the off-season conditioning program. In the cases of Ellis Hobbs and Omar Gaither, they can now rehab their injuries with the Eagles' athletic training staff, a really important step as the players prepare for the post-draft camps.
- I am amazed at the depth of the rumors day after day after day regarding the Eagles' quarterback situation. It seems to me that one report surfaces and then everybody chases that report for a couple of days and then moves on.
- Movies I've enjoyed recently: A Serious Man and *Avatar and, to a lesser degree, *Brothers.
* The Eagles have four of the first 87 picks in April's draft. How many of those picks go to the defense? I guess a better question is, Can we in any way ever predict Andy Reid during draft weekend?