The worst part about the Eagles season ending last week. Nothing else to look forward to football-wise until some media-created sensations like the Free Agency declaration deadline and the NFL Network-hyped Scouting Combine....yikes....
But as the litany of mistakes and miscues turned 2007 into a "coulda, woulda, shoulda" situation, it became obvious the team needs more playmakers to be a true contender. The Red-Zone Defense was awesome this year, but its not enough to simply stop the other team, a championship-caliber defense chimes in with a few scores of it own (the '07 Eagles got NONE) and causes periodic turnovers that put the offense in prime scoring position (a real rarity this year). In fact, the Eagles did the opposite, the Offense routinely put the defense behind the proverbial eight-ball and repeatedly coughed up an early pick-six INT that gave an opponent an early lead (both the Pats and Seahawks in games that wound up being closely-contested and easily join the shoulda/woulda W column).
Roster changes. Rich Hoffman sees it this way: That said, I see about four new starters: tight end, left guard, defensive end, fullback (with DE the most important. And this assumes that cornerback Lito Sheppard returns healthy.) I see a new third wide receiver and a real return specialist. I see draft picks aimed at the future: cornerback, safety, offensive line, running back.
I see it this way: Unless a real talent drops into the Eagles' laps during the draft, they will stick with Celek at TE. Competition will open up along the O-line - look for at least 1 draft choice and a couple of undrafted guys to be towed in to shake-up the complacency... Runyan stays and he and Andrews form a solid right wall....not sure about the left side though....
DE - Kearse leaves, and probably Howard - though I think Darren Howard's versatility along the D-Line could lead to his return in a support role (albeit at a grossly over-inflated paycheck for such duties). Old re-treads like Kimo VO and Montae Reagor get replaced. Patterson doesn't need veteran leadership anymore. He IS the veteran, and Bunkley be in year 3. If LaJuan Ramsey isn't ready to step-in and fill a more prominent 3rd DT role, then he need to go at this point.
FB - See if you can snag Schmitt from WVU, he's a bruising blocker and he's got good hands. Something AR should like. Tapeh can be adequate at times, and that's being generous.
DBs - Bye bye Will James, hello to new contracts to for restricted FAs Joselio Hanson and JR Reed. At least tendered offers that keep them coming back for 2008. YES, that does not preclude the Eagles from either bringing in a better UFA Corner and/or drafting both a CB and a Safety, but Reed proved he can play, and I think mmm-bop wound up playing better than Will James did this year. Hanson knows the system, and while a guy like Nick Graham could actually have more talent, he's got to learn his role and step-up....Hanson filled in OK (not great mind you) when called upon. He's not going to be anything more than a decent 4th CB in this league....but fuck, at least we have that, one less hole to fill.
LB - Spikes comes back and the young guys take another step next year. Maybe Gocong plays more stand-up DE because it really looks like JJ needs to find a way to get Steward Bradley on the field. That dude was tearing it up, making some plays in his limited role at the end of the season.
Special Teams - Dorenbos is set as the Long-snapper, and I think the comments about Rocca and Akers being comfortable with him suggests the Eagles believe they are ok at P and K. Not to say that there won't be some new legs brought in to be tested out, but just that Rocca gets another year to settle in and prove what he learned from 2007 and Akers gets a pass as well after struggling this year. Struggle in 2008??? and things won't be so kind in 2009. Reno, bless his heart, got another year out of his unlikely pro-football career, but methinks that was it. GO FIND A FUCKING RETURN MAN.
I'll do the rest of the offense later