They came wanting answers to everything from the state of the quarterback situation here to the contract status of several players to just what the Eagles can expect from this player and that player in 2010. Whoa. Slow down. As much as we all want to fast forward to free agency -- whatever form it is in -- and then the draft, we can't. It is going to be an agonizing next couple of months for everyone.
That said, Reid provided some gristle for the media and the fans to chew on in the meantime. He again said that Donovan McNabb would be the quarterback in 2010. Questions about McNabb's contract -- he is signed through 2010 -- and the status of Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick were asked, of course, but what is there to say right now? In all of this, what answers are there?
Yeah, Reid is backing McNabb, and he is thrilled with Kolb and Vick and, yes, the Eagles are in an enviable position with their quarterback situation. But here is the reality: The picture could very well change. Who really knows? The Eagles have assets at quarterback and they have the responsibility of manipulating those valuable pieces in the best way possible. If they have the opportunity to move one of the quarterbacks, or even two of them, and bring back draft picks or veteran players who can help immediately, why wouldn't they do it?
The truth is, nobody knows what is going to happen. Last off-season taught us that, indeed, anything can *happen and it usually does. The media spent 25 minutes hammering Reid and, hey, that is their job. He didn't say much because he doesn't *know much about the future at this point.
We're about to go into a period of darkness. Reid has historically been quiet for several weeks after a season ends as he prepares for free agency and the draft. He isn't even close to that phase of his off-season. He is still wrapping up 2009 and making sure that part of the job is completed correctly.
Monday was the day when everyone wanted to know about quarterback and Reid repeated what he said after the loss on Saturday. McNabb's status is one of many in the off-season, and we will be here to debate and discuss all the topics until we get some news. I ask for your patience. I ask for your time. I'm going to be here. Are you?
Anyway, here are some of the discussions to be had for another day, not too far in the future ...
**What WILL The Eagles Do At Quarterback?
As Reid said, the Eagles have great options here. They have a great situation with three quarterbacks who have started games and won in the league. At the same time, they have three quarterbacks who are signed through 2010, and it would be highly unusual for all three to enter the season in the final years of their contracts.
Given the quarterback picture around the league, it wouldn't be surprising if teams come calling to see if the Eagles are willing to have conversations about dealing one or two of their quarterbacks between now and the draft. How seriously the Eagles would take those calls remains to be seen.
I see the quarterbacks as assets, and it is the Eagles' responsibility to make the most of those assets. Whether they keep all three, or make trades, the Eagles must make this roster as good as it can be. The team has seven draft picks -- 24th in the first round -- all of their picks in the first four rounds and extra picks in round 3 (from Seattle) and round 4 (from the Jets in the Lito Sheppard deal). This is a good position to hold.
Stay tuned here. Things will be quiet until March and then, well, who knows? I know Reid backs McNabb. That's what he should feel right now. When you throw in the issue of contracts and all of the variables involving teams that may be interested in making trades, the picture becomes much more complicated.
**Does Brian Westbrook Return?
He is reportedly due a $7 million bonus in March and the Eagles must make the evaluation whether Westbrook is ready to return to an elite level of performance. Two surgeries, a sprained ankle and two concussions ruined Westbrook's 2009 campaign. A full off-season is working his body will do Westbrook wonders, no doubt about that.
But will he be worth the investment, especially with an expected step forward by LeSean McCoy? Westbrook wants to play and he feels he can be as elusive and as game-changing as the Westbrook from as recently as 2007. So, it is a tough decision ahead for the Eagles, who have to make sure they use their money wisely even if there is no salary cap. Don't think teams are going to spend wildly if there is an uncapped year. There is too much at stake to throw foolish money around.
**How Are The Injured Players Going To Help In 2010?
Players like linebacker Stewart Bradley and tight end Cornelius Ingram and even offensive lineman Shawn Andrews should be healthy for training camp. Center Jamaal Jackson is still on crutches after having knee surgery, so it is hard to tell if he will be back to 100 percent by August.
Hey, Bradley is expected to come back and be a standout in the middle of the Eagles' defense. Ingram has a chance to win a job as the No. 2 tight end. Andrews, well, who really knows if he is going to come back at all. He has missed most of the last two seasons. While Andrews is a great natural talent, how much does he want to work for it to be a standout again? Have the back injuries robbed him of his freakish natural athletic ability?
Also, Winston Justice just signed a long-term contract to be this team's right tackle and Stacy Andrews says he is ready -- and Reid indicated on Monday that he is hopeful that Stacy Andrews is ready -- to compete for the starting right guard job. Where would that leave Shawn Andrews?
**What Are The Answers On Defense?
Having Bradley back, even though it is a question mark how close to 100 percent he can be in the 2010 season, will greatly aid the defense. Bradley is a three-down linebacker who is one of the league's best players at his position. But the Eagles have other needs on defense, namely adding more impact up front and solving some of the issues they had in the secondary.
Coordinator Sean McDermott did an admirable job in his first year. He replaced Jim Johnson and kept the Eagles an aggressive group that thrived on takeaways. But there were holes that Dallas attacked successfully in back-to-back wins and McDermott said after the playoff loss that one of the projects ahead would be to match up more effectively against the Cowboys.
In short, the Eagles need to put pressure on the backfield without blitzing so much, they need to play the run better and they need to upgrade the free safety position, whether that means finding the answer internally or adding a player in free agency or the draft.
*What Happens In The Personnel Department? *
As Reid held his press conference on Monday, the long-reported move of Tom Heckert becoming the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns had not happened and Reid made it sound like there was still the chance that Heckert would remain as the Eagles' GM. Heckert was announced as Cleveland's General Manager on Monday night, so there is now a hole to fill.
Heckert and Reid enjoyed a strong working relationship with Heckert as Reid's "right-hand man" as Reid said at his Monday press conference. The Eagles have yet to announce their plans to replace Heckert, and we will see how that position is occupied.
With seven draft picks, with obvious needs, with players who could be traded and with free agency coming sooner than you think, the Eagles have to make sure they are all on the same page when they put their 2010 blueprint together.
**Which Young Players Take The Next Step?
Last year, the Eagles entered the off-season expecting Brent Celek to be the starter at tight end, even though a lot of folks out there had questions about him. He rewarded the Eagles' faith by catching 76 passes for 971 yards and 8 touchdowns in his first year as a starter. So who is this year's Celek?
It could be a linebacker like Moise Fokou, who ended the year as the starter at the SAM position. He is an aggressive player who runs well and who gets around the football a lot. It could still be Quintin Demps, who entered the post-draft camps as the starter at free safety but then was replaced during the season by Sean Jones and Macho Harris. It could be Harris, who has a full off-season to get stronger, become even more acclimated into the scheme and watch reams and reams of game film.
Joe Mays became a demon on special teams and could be one of those players who takes a huge step at linebacker in his third season. Some of these young cornerbacks like Dimitri Patterson or Geoffrey Pope will have opportunities to shine, and no doubt defensive tackle Trevor Laws must step up to gain some playing time up front.
Offensively, full off-seasons will help running back McCoy and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin go well beyond their strong rookie seasons -- Maclin caught 55 passes for 762 yards and 4 touchdowns in the regular season and everyone kind of shrugged, whereas in the past those numbers would draw rave reviews -- and get closer to the enormous potential that they each have.
Some of the young linemen like Justice and King Dunlap and even Stacy Andrews -- young in this system, anyway -- should greatly benefit from an off-season of conditioning and learning more about coach Juan Castillo wants.
A lot is going to happen in this off-season, just not at this very moment. Take a deep breath. Survey the situation. The Eagles coaches and personnel department and players will do the same with the idea of having it all come together when training camp begins and then again when the regular season starts.
That seems like a million years from now as we all climb the ladder of another gulp of time before we can again enjoy Eagles football.