Philadelphia Eagles News

Positioning Eagles For Super Run

The first order of business is finalizing the coaching staff. Johnnie Lynn is no longer the cornerbacks coach, which may or may not be the first of many moves to come. It would be ideal for the Eagles to get the coaching staff finished by, oh, the middle of next week. That way, everyone can get on the same page prior to the team leaving to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL later in the month.

How extensive will the changes be? That's the question everyone has been asking, and so far, we have no answers. Andy Reid remains as the head coach. We know that. Otherwise, we don't know much. Speculation is that the defensive staff will encounter some change, while the offensive side will remain intact. How much of that is true remains to be seen.

As for the roster, the Eagles have some clear-cut holes and some positions they would like to upgrade. Purely from my perspective, here is a look at the roster as it stands now ...


Michael Vick has a huge offseason in front of him, of course. He will benefit from the work with the coaching staff and in the film room. Vick sincerely wants to improve his game and take it to the highest level. He wants to stay healthy. He wants to minimize his mistakes. If that means altering his game a bit, so be it.

Mike Kafka is in line to be No. 2, but the Eagles are sure to add to the position. Vince Young is an unrestricted free agent searching for a starting job. Will the Eagles sign another veteran, draft a quarterback early in April or, if things don't work out for Young around the league, try to retain the veteran and work with him for the entire offseason?


There are no questions about LeSean McCoy, who is in the prime of his career. He finished second in the NFC in rushing in 2011 and has great days ahead of him. The Eagles like Dion Lewis a lot, and he showed his stuff in the finale with a big fourth quarter against Washington. Lewis has a chance to be a terrific change-of-pace back here.

Ronnie Brown is an unrestricted free agent and could very well move on, so the Eagles will need another back, perhaps one with some size. Graig Cooper was signed last week and is a young prospect. There are going to be a glut of players in free agency and in the draft. Expect the Eagles to add several.


Owen Schmitt is among the potential unrestricted free agents after his good season. Is it a slam dunk that he returns? Not at all. The Eagles have seventh-round draft pick Stanley Havili signed to the roster after he spent his rookie year on the practice squad and they want to see what Havili can do.

Schmitt is a good fit here, and it would be great should he return. There will be competition waiting.


Good group, strong group and one with some questions. DeSean Jackson tops the questions, as we know. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Does he return? There is a long, deep and talented list of wide receivers who could hit the market, and there are another three very promising prospects at the top of April's draft, so Jackson's situation is, indeed, murky.

Jeremy Maclin battled a lot of issues -- illness, which took away his preseason, injuries during the year -- to have a strong season. Jason Avant remains a premier slot receiver. Riley Cooper made strides in his second NFL season. And Chad Hall came on at the end of the season to fit well into the packages the coaching staff designed for him.

The Eagles added Mardy Gilyard last week. Gilyard is a slot receiver/return man who will get his shot to make the team.

Can the Eagles use some help here? Of course. My wish list includes another speed receiver and a big target for the red zone.


Brent Celek shrugged off injuries and enjoyed a tremendous second half of the season to again establish himself as a top player in the league. Clay Harbor is a solid No. 2 behind Celek. This is a tight end-driven NFL, and the Eagles are in good shape here. At the same time, keep all eyes open for players to challenge the position.


Assuming that line coach Howard Mudd returns, the prospects are extremely bright for the guys up front. There is a question mark with the status of Evan Mathis, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Should he return, the Eagles would have line continuity for the first time in many years. That would be an important plus, along with the maturation of interior linemen Danny Watkins and Evan Mathis.

There are some questions, of course. Do the Eagles retain Winston Justice, who has a long-term contract? Is King Dunlap in the plans? What about Jamaal Jackson?


The line made marked improvement last season. Jason Babin was a prize in free agency. Cullen Jenkins, too. Mike Patterson played his best football, Trent Cole was Trent Cole and Phillip Hunt, Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp rounded out a good group of ends. Trevor Laws came along as a nickel pass rusher and Derek Landri was a productive player at tackle.

The Eagles expect Antonio Dixon to be fully recovered from injury, so he needs to be in great shape and be ready to play in the spring and summer. Brandon Graham has to get back into the picture as he recovers from his knee injury.

NFL teams are always on the lookout for quality defensive linemen. There aren't enough to go around. Early prediction: A defensive tackle or end could be on the menu in the first round of the draft.


This group is perhaps the largest collective question mark on the team. There are some good players here, some young players who could play important roles on the defense. None, however, looks to have that Pro Bowl pedigree and the defense could use that kind of high-level help.

Jamar Chaney, Brian Rolle, Akeem Jordan, Casey Matthews, Keenan Clayton and Moise Fokou (before his injury)  had their moments in 2011. They need to step it up in 2012 against what is likely to be more competition.

Will the Eagles add in free agency? Could happen. There are some potential free agents who could help as veteran plugins. The draft offers a handful of first-round possibilities and some promising depth. Linebacker is a need group to improve, no doubt about it.


This is an especially talented group that also has to be sorted out. What do the Eagles do with Asante Samuel, who played well in 2011 and is a Pro Bowl talent? Many have speculated that the Eagles could look to trade Samuel. Pro Bowl corners don't often hit the market. In fact, teams are starving for cornerbacks in this league.

The Eagles are in an advantageous situation here with Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leading the way. All three are high-quality players in a league that demands cover cornerbacks.

Joselio Hanson is the leading candidate to return as the nickel cornerback, but the Eagles also like youngsters Brandon Hughes and Curtis Marsh. Trevard Lindley returns as well after not hooking on with a team in 2011.


Many think this is a need area, and I agree, but I'm not so sure the Eagles feel that way. They look at their safeties and see some young talent that needs to mature and develop. Nate Allen had an up-and-down 2011 coming back from injury. Some weeks he looked great. Other weeks he missed tackles and looked tentative. Allen, though, has a huge upside. He has a chance to be a very good safety here.

Kurt Coleman was around the football a lot at the other safety spot and is the leading candidate to be a starter next to Allen. Rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett needs a good offseason to take the next step in his career. The Eagles invested a second-round pick on Jarrett and they aren't going to give up on him.

Colt Anderson is a Pro Bowl player on special teams and he is expected to make a full recovery from his knee surgery.

Will the Eagles make a splash at safety with an addition? Maybe. I'm not sure how deep the talent pool is out there, though. The Eagles have some young players here they want to develop.


The decision to select Alex Henery in the fourth round of the draft paid off as Henery set a franchise record with his field goal accuracy in his rookie season, making 22 of 25 kicks. He has a superb future. Chas Henry matured a lot as a rookie and kicked the ball extremely well in the final five or six games. He also did a nice job holding.

The Eagles need help in the return game, both on kickoffs and on punts. They need a game breaker there. While there have been more touchbacks than ever before, the kickoff return game can still help an offense greatly. Jackson appeared too often to go for the big play on punt returns, and it ended up costing him yards.

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