Philadelphia Eagles News

Marty: Red Zone Offense Is Priority No. 1

For offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, it happened far too often last season. The Eagles would put together a nice drive, mixing in both running and passing plays. They'd go deep, they'd dump the ball off. They'd get inside the opponents' 20-yard line and ...

They'd stop. Dead in their tracks.

Leaving a short field goal attempt for David Akers, or sometimes not putting points on the board at all.

For the sixth-ranked offense in the NFL in total yards, being just 24th in red zone touchdown efficiency (45.1 percent) is unacceptable. After all, it was a category in which the Eagles finished 10th in 2006 and even 12th during the abysmal 2005 campaign.

Mornhinweg, now entering his third season at the offense's helm, knows something has to change - scoring more touchdowns is priority No. 1.

"We don't hope and wish. We weren't very good in the red zone. We were very good in many other facets of the game, but that red zone (offense) was not good. That starts with me," Mornhinweg said. "If something's wrong, we're going to fix it."

Mornhinweg won't use tight end L.J. Smith's injuries as an excuse for some of the woes. Despite Smith being a vital target when the ball gets into scoring position, the West Coast attack is designed to allow reserve players to fill in adequately if need be. It's a system of depth, but neither starter nor substitute could solve the red zone problem in 2007.

In turn, tweaks had to be made. The rookies have been hard at work on it – every practice so far has included at least one seven-on-seven red-zone drill.

"We adjust on a consistent basis," Mornhinweg said. "It depends on the particular game, it depends on our personnel. In many cases, our personnel will dictate many of the things that we do."

In terms of personnel, a major adjustment to the offensive attack in the offseason allows the Eagles to avoid similar adjustments during the course of a game. The Eagles acquired running back Lorenzo Booker to spell Brian Westbrook. And Booker's skill set allows him to do exactly that – if Westbrook isn't on the field, Booker can fill in without a drastic shift in playcalling.

It's all about getting into a rhythm and allowing the offense, whether it be Westbrook, Smith or Donovan McNabb, to make plays.

As for Westbrook, Mornhinweg expects him to report at Lehigh on Thursday along with the other veterans. And, if Mornhinweg had his way, he'll arrive with a lightened workload.

"I thought there were several times that we had to overuse Brian just a little bit," he said. "Brian's a big weapon, but too much is just about not enough. So we'll try and do the right thing there with Brian."

Mornhinweg didn't mince words, though. As vital as he believes the acquisition of Lorenzo Booker could be, the offense still runs through Brian Westbrook, and it will continue to do so. You don't take that type of player off of the field if you don't need to, he said.

And if the Eagles can keep Westbrook healthy and on the field most of the time, it should allow them to score those touchdowns that eluded them last season. More touchdowns win games. And wins, Mornhinweg said, make everyone happy.

"He does many things and he does them all very well. He does them all at a high level. He's a dynamite player," Mornhinweg said. "Brian understands. Brian knows that we'll do whatever it takes to win that next ball game, so that's the way we approach things."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content