So, Philadelphia Eagles Owner, Jeffrey Lurie gave his ‘State of the Team’ address yesterday which detailed the inner-workings of our beloved organization. I wanted to take this opportunity to give such an address from a fan’s point-of-view, so it may be a little long-winded on my first go-round. Not to overlook the valuable information that he delivered via press conference (that was sadly taken out-of-context shortly thereafter). Before we delve into anything let’s look at one of the more popular talking points to come from his address, Head Coach Andy Reid’s future. Andy Reid has been in the NFL (coaching and otherwise) for over 20 years and he knows that back-to-back 8-8 seasons can and will get you replaced. It didn’t appear to me that Mr. Lurie was issuing Coach Reid any ultimatum, but offering his opinion on what he expects as the owner of this team.
Today is the deadline for NFL teams to trim their rosters to 53 and the Eagles have managed to get to that mandatory limit. Some surprising cuts and intrigue has gripped the Eagles fan base as well as the other NFL fans around the world. However, I’m not going to get into detail about these cuts as there is an article available at phillysportsnut.com, written by the wonderful and talented Brandyn Campbell.
The feel in the atmosphere of Eagles Nation is that of anxiety and nervousness. While the expectations are not as high as they were in 2012, they are still high…Super Bowl possibility high. That’s where the nervousness amongst fans comes into play. This anxiety is typical for most teams right before the beginning of any NFL season. Parity in the NFL is the main cause for this feeling of anxiety, as any team is capable of winning the NFL Championship.
With that in mind, we can dig into the roster of the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles:
QB – In a surprising twist, Nick Foles ends the preseason as the #2 QB behind Michael Vick, with…wait for it, Trent Edwards as the #3. Mike Kafka, 4th round pick in 2010 NFL Draft, was released shortly after I began writing this article. Good luck to him as he navigates his way on the NFL free agent market. A huge cause for concern this season appears to come from Vick’s health. This seemingly will be an annual affair with Vick, but this year it is compounded by the fact that both preseason games that Vick played in, he left with an injury. The general consensus seems to be that our season rests on the health of our #1 QB; however, the emergence of our 3rd round draft pick, Foles, and possibly to a lesser extent, Edwards, those fears have been slightly tempered. During his brief stints in two of the teams four preseason games, Vick was an underwhelming 4/7 for 11yds, 0TDs and 0INTs with a 59.75 QB rating. Early season jitters, hopefully, nervousness, we do not mind, let us just collectively hope that come the regular season (in a little over a week) he’s injury-free and in early-2010 form.
RB/FB – A couple of pleasant rookie surprises in the form of 7th round pick Bryce Brown and UDFA Chris Polk made the backup RB position a much higher contested position race than originally anticipated. However, 5th round pick in the 2011 draft, Dion Lewis, quickly separated himself from the crowd and claimed the #2 RB spot. LeSean McCoy is the budding star and is poised for another big season and possibly the rushing crown. With the loss of LT Jason Peters to injury, that feat may be a higher uphill climb than imagined before the injury. FB Stanley Havili fought off decent competition and remains the team’s lead blocker. In the end, the RB position is a strength on this Eagles team.
WR/TE – A focused DeSean Jackson this year will bode well for, basically, the same group of WRs from 2011. The only change is PR/WR Damaris Johnson who definitely showed up this preseason and earned a roster spot. Another preseason stand-out was Mardy Gilyard, who didn’t quite make the Eagles final cuts as he was released earlier today. Good luck to him as well, but with his performance he will probably end up on an NFL roster somewhere. Another note in this group is that 6th rounder Marvin McNutt did not make the final roster as well. This came as somewhat as a surprise as history tells us that Reid likes to give his draft picks chances. McNutt began training camp fairly strong but seemed to tail off towards the end of the preseason. A rookie with his size at WR should not have too much trouble finding a shot at an NFL roster or even the Eagles practice squad. TEs Brent Celek and Clay Harbor are the only two that made the final roster. They staved off fierce competition from Brett Brackett, who did impress but unfortunately was not what the Eagles brass was searching for. This squad should be highly productive once again.
OL – Every position here seems set on one of last season’s best positional groups, except for at LT. As I mentioned earlier, the loss of Peters, arguably the best LT in the game last season has been a bit more of a problem to solve than originally thought after acquiring FA prize Demetress Bell. However, his play has been much less than a prize as he has struggled to adapt to OL Coach Howard Mudd’s scheme. Let’s remember though, before we overlook him, that Mudd’s scheme is not the easiest to adapt to and many struggle until they get it down. We should be good here, but sadly, maybe not as good as last season.
DL/DE – Good here! A few surprises as former 1st rounder Brandon Graham has become a pleasant surprise after suffering through injuries most of last season. Phillip Hunt, a fan favorite, has made the final roster with a strong preseason performance. Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry, 1st and 2nd round rookie draft picks respectively, have been a welcome addition to the strongest unit on this team.
LB – While DeMeco Ryans has impressed like most thought he would early on, he still has been a complete upgrade manning the middle of our defense. His leadership has been commended time and time again and fills a void that has been left since the departure of Jeremiah Trotter. 2nd round pick Mychal Kendricks has been arguably the best Eagles player this preseason and has cemented his starting position at SLB. Veteran Akeem Jordan won the WLB position that was manned by Brian Rolle most of the preseason. In a bit of a surprise, Keenan Clayton was released today. The athletic 2010 4th round pick unfortunately was caught up in the numbers game at linebacker. This group should be vastly improved at MLB and SLB; however, WLB seems to continue to be a revolving door until someone steps up and stays there.
CB/S – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) has been better than advertised this preseason. A few rumblings about Nnamdi Asomugha and his lack of
production dominance this preseason, but the majority opinion seems to be that he will be fine this season. Surprisingly six-year veteran nickel CB Joselio Hanson was released today to make room for the emergence of 4th round pick Brandon Boykin. Not too much worry there as Boykin has shown that he does have the potential to man the nickel CB spot; however, let us hope that he does not run into any rookie wall(s) in his on-the-job training this season. The depth behind the starters is young but athletic and fast. At safety, there could possibly be a scary lack of depth behind 2011 starters Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. 2011 2nd rounder Jaiquawn Jarrett began with a few disappointing showings early on; however, he pulled it together and showed enough to make the final roster over Oshiomogho Atogwe (injuries) and UDFA Phillip Thomas. In news that came out later in the day, General Manager (GM) Howie Roseman announced that the Eagles acquired S David Sims from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a conditional draft pick. To make room on the roster, OG Julian Vandervelde was released. The 5-9, 204-pound Sims spent the last five weeks of the 2011 season on the Browns’ practice squad before re-signing with the team in January. The Eagles should be fine at CB; however, S could be another question all together. This position may be the weakest link on this 2012 squad. As we all witnessed last season, that could be a key detriment to our Super Bowl aspirations…we will soon see while hoping for the best.
K/P/KR/PR – Chas Henry was written off when the Eagles signed former Pro-Bowler Matt McBriar for competition this offseason. In the end, he remains the team’s lone punter and FG holder (some say that may be what landed him the spot). Alex Henery is still the K and is poised for a good season after breaking a NFL rookie record last season for field goal accuracy by a rookie kicker. A sore spot on this team for far too many seasons has been that of KR and PR (unless DeSean Jackson was back deep at PR). This season we have two sensational rookie returners, Brandon Boykin (KR) and Damaris Johnson (PR), manning those positions. They both seemed poised and ready to contribute significantly at their respective positions. This group should be steadily improved from last year, with a slight question mark at P.
Goals – Keep Vick upright and healthy. Utilize McCoy abundantly. Keep DeSean Jackson focused. Settle LT position and get maximum production. Continue to create pressure upfront on defense (no worries here) while slowing the opponent’s ground game. Get maximum production from LB group in run support and pass support. Get good, consistent coverage from the back end of the defense (DBs). Make FGs and get good punts to reverse field position advantages. Get good starting field position (or TDs) from our PR/KR returners. Super Bowl.
I purposely left out most injury news (IR, PUP, etc.) as I will redo this article throughout the season and will include those players and that news at the appropriate time(s). If you believe that I completely whiffed on any pertinent 2012 Eagles information please comment below. I will consider all comments/suggestions is later reprises of this article. Thank you and have a great Eagles holiday weekend!