Philadelphia Eagles News

Offense Has Wrinkles, But Ability Is There

That the Eagles lead the NFL in preseason total offense means not very much in the grand scheme of things, but it is an indication of just how good this unit can be. Hey, we've seen all the warts, all the blemishes, all of the misfires and flat-out mistakes Donovan McNabb and Co. have made in three preseason games, but the offense has still averaged 400 yards per game and makes you wonder just how good it can be when all of the wrinkles are ironed out.

Oh, there is so much work to be done. Two weeks remain before the season-opening game in Carolina, and even then the offense -- and the defense and the special teams -- will be a week-to-week proposition. That's the way it works in the NFL. You get a little bit better here, a little bit better there and then all of a sudden you look up and see the machine working smoothly.

So the approach to take is that a lot can be accomplished in two weeks. The return of Shawn Andrews to practice on Saturday was important, and even more important will be his health the day after practice, and the day after that and the day after that. The Eagles are bringing him back "slowly," says head coach Andy Reid. Can he play a full game in two weeks? We'll see. The good news is that Winston Justice has had three games -- and he is likely to play against the Jets, I would imagine -- under his belt and has made great strides.

Having Brian Westbrook in the lineup is going to give the offense a dimension that is going to cause a lot of problems for defenses. LeSean McCoy is a fine prospect who has certainly taken advantage of all the practice reps and game snaps withi Westbrook out, but he is not in No. 36's class. Not many are, actually.

So start with the additions of Andrews and Westbrook to an offense averaging 400 yards per game in three preseason outings and go from there. The line must improve and get some timing down. Shawn Andrews, Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews need to round into game shape very quickly. They could see a lot of time under a hot Carolina sun in a couple of weeks. Nick Cole has to be secure as a starter at left guard, just as he was last season at right guard.

The receivers have been fine this summer, although Kevin Curtis' puffy knee is a bit of a concern. Can he stay healthy and produce as he did a couple of seasons ago, or are the Eagles going to accelerate the growth curve of Jeremy Maclin and some of the other wide receivers? Speaking of which, what are the Eagles going to do with all of these players?

Fullback Leonard Weaver will be ready for the Panthers and he is a key, key piece to the offense, as is tight end Brent Celek, who has been relatively quiet in the preseason. The Eagles know what he can do, especially in the red zone.

Michael Vick is an X-factor, still working his way into the picture as the Eagles consider the many ways they would like to work his considerable talents into the offense. This is going to change week to week, I'm sure.

All of the surrounding pieces are here to benefit Donovan McNabb. The Eagles overhauled the offensive line, added pieces at wide receiver and at fullback and then brought in Vick. And anybody out there thinks transition was going to be seamless?

It doesn't work that way. The NFL is about timing and precision. And it is about talent. The Eagles have the talent, and they have the scheme and now they have to bring it all together in a very short period of time.

With all of the wrinkles -- the most vexing of which is the lack of effectiveness in the red zone -- the Eagles are having no troubles moving the ball up and down the field. Think about what it is going to be like when the ironing job is done and the offense is sailing smootlhy. It is worth the wait as the Eagles take strides, day by day, toward the opener and the opportunity to get off to a flying start.

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