Saturday, July 25, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Philadelphia Eagles
2008 RECORD: 9-6-1
(2nd in NFC East)
HEAD COACH: Andy Reid
Key Additions: OT Stacy Andrews (FA/Bengals) S Sean Jones (FA/Browns) FB Leonard Weaver (FA/Seahawks) CB Ellis Hobbs (trade/Patriots)
Key Losses: WR Greg Lewis (trade/Patriots) CB Lito Sheppard (trade/Jets) S Brian Dawkins (FA/Broncos) RB Correll Buckhalter TE L.J. Smith (FA/Ravens) OT Jon Runyan (FA)
Offense: When people think of the Eagles offense, two names come to mind and with good reason. Quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook spearhead the Eagles' offense. In 2008, McNabb threw for 23 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions and had 3,916 yards through the air. Westbrook led the Eagles with 936 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs (nine running and five receiving) and also grabbed 54 passes out of the backfield.
The pair combined for nearly two-thirds of the total offense last year, so the Eagles would like to see other options open up for the team in 2009.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson led the team in '08 with 62 catches for 912 yards and scored two touchdowns. He will be joined by Kevin Curtis, Hank Baskett and Jason Avant. Rookie wideout Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) will also help the depth in the receiving corps. The Tight Ends are Brent Celek and Matt Schobel. Westbrook's backup will be second round draft pick (from Pitt) LeSean McCoy.
The offensive line underwent major off-season changes as veteran Jon Runyan left for free agency as did Tra Thomas. The team picked up tackles Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters and they will start along side guards Todd Herremans ans Shawn Andrews. The center is Jamaal Jackson.
Defense: This is the strength of the team and the Eagles proved that by finishing in the top five in defense in all categories in 2008.
They were third in the NFL in total defense, allowing only 274 yards per game (92 yards rushing per game good for fourth overall and 182 yards allowed against the pass to finish third) and allowed 289 points during the regular season to finish fourth in that category.
There are some shakeups here as well as Brian Dawkins, the heart and soul of the secondary, left for Denver via free agency. The cornerbacks will be Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel, who played a big role for the team after coming over from New England a year ago.
The safeties will be Quintin Mikell and Quintin Demps and Sean Jones will spell them while Ellis Hobbs and Joselio Hanson are the backups at the corners.
The linebackers include Akeem Jordan, Stewart Bradley and Chris Gocong.
The Eagles have an aggressive defense and they had 48 sacks a year ago while intercepting 15 passes. Even with the loss of Dawkins and Lito Sheppard, the secondary will be formidable while enforcing a hands-off policy against their opponents passing game.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles are poised to make a run deep into the post-season once again in 2009 and barring major injuries, they should do so.
The offense is solid and as the line has time to get accustomed to one another as a unit, it will only benefit McNabb and company. Look for the team to score points and for the defense to keep opponents at bay on a consistent basis.
After falling to upstart Arizona a year ago in the NFC Championship Game, the Eagles are looking to take the next step and get back to the Super Bowl for the first time in five years.
There are high expectations for this team as they proved they can beat the New York Giants a year ago, doing so twice, including a dominant performance on the road in the playoffs.
The Eagles should win the NFC East this year with a 11-5 record and go deep in the playoffs again. The Super Bowl is a real possibility for the Eagles. Don't be surprised if they make it there this season.
Week 1- at Carolina (Sept. 13)
Week 2- vs. New Orleans (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. Kansas City (Sept. 27)
Week 4- BYE WEEK
Week 5- vs. Tampa Bay (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Oakland (Oct. 18)
Week 7- at Washington (Oct. 26)
Week 8- vs. NY Giants (Nov. 1)
Week 9- vs. Dallas (Nov. 8)
Week 10- at San Diego (Nov. 15)
Week 11- at Chicago (Nov. 22)
Week 12- vs. Washington (Nov. 29)
Week 13- at Atlanta (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at NY Giants (Dec. 13)
Week 15- vs. San Francisco (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. Denver (Dec. 27)
Week 17- at Dallas (Jan. 3)