The next two days produced a mixed bag for the Eagles -- some help for the offense, for the defense and even for the special teams in the form of placekicker Alex Henery. As we ponder the next phase of roster manipulation -- and it's going to start soon, folks, so get your rest now -- the natural question is which side of the game will receive the most influx of talent.
An offense that in 2010 set for the third straight season a franchise record for most points scored? Or a defense that has undergone a coaching staff overhaul and last season was a disaster in the red zone?
The defense has more apparent holes. There are questions at every level of the D. It is fair to say that every position on the defense will be addressed in one way or the other -- players leaving, players arriving -- in the next phase of the offseason.
But I'm not going to ignore the offense. The Eagles scored a lot of points and they are as explosive as any team in the NFL. But they were average in the red zone, they were on and off in short-yardage situations, and they certainly could have more of an air of toughness in the running game.
Offense? Defense? Or both?
How many moves can the Eagles reasonably make? They have their own potential free agents to deal with first, a list that includes placekicker David Akers, safety Quintin Mikell, linebacker Stewart Bradley, punter Sav Rocca and running back Jerome Harrison, not to mention offensive guards Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole, both of whom seem to be on the outside looking in after the team drafted three interior offensive linemen.
The free-agency crop should be plentiful and the Eagles will have opportunities there. The trade route, of course, remains a distinct possibility. Howie Roseman is a wheeler and dealer. He isn't going to sit tight on anything. He and Andy Reid know the time to strike is now, so look for the Eagles to be a major player when business opens again.
The defense has to get some impact, though. And I'm talking in every phase of the group. The secondary has many question marks -- both safety spots and right cornerback. The linebackers are not even close to being settled -- quick, name a starter at any of the three spots. And the defensive line, the most stable of the defensive units, is always going to be an area to consider addressing. That's just the way it works in the NFL.
Defense, to me, ranks higher on the list of fixes than does the offense. But I'm not going to ignore an offensive line that could be in for a makeover under new coach Howard Mudd. I'm not sure about the depth at halfback behind LeSean McCoy. Both tight end and wide receiver are as robust in talent as the Eagles have enjoyed in years, but why not challenge the depth chart if the opportunity is there?
If the NFL says that players are unrestricted free agents after four years of service, and the new rules go into play this year, hey, there are going to be hundreds of players looking for jobs. And the Eagles can have their needs met very satisfactorily with decisive moves, an aggressive approach, and pinpoint accuracy in researching the right fits for this system.
Go for more defense, but don't ignore the offense. That's the thinking as I see it. The Eagles are going to have a major opportunity to set up this roster for a Super Bowl run in 2011 and to add to a great talent base for years to come by doing it right in the offseason to come.