Red zone production is an area the Eagles have struggled in for some time now. They’ve found a lot of success in the big home run plays, but have struggled to punch it in when they get inside the 20. In 2010, I expect to see an improvement.
One thing to think about is the impact Michael Vick had in the red zone last year. We saw a few different formations that turned out to be pretty effective with Vick at quarterback. Lining up in a spread formation, Vick can tuck the ball and run as well as drop back and pass. I expect to see Vick in the red zone a lot again this year because he presents a lot of versatility and is hard to game plan for.
In normal formations with Kevin Kolb under center, I see the team having a lot of options as well. To start, you can look at some of the returning players who will have an impact.
Brent Celek is a great red zone target and had a breakout season last year. He’s got great hands and seems to be able to find the open seams pretty well. You can only expect him to get better at reading defensive formations and putting himself in the right place to get open.
At receiver, you have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin who present a lot of speed and can be hit on quick passing routes. These two guys have typically used their speed to their advantage for deep balls down the field, but their speed can definitely be a big advantage in the red zone. Jason Avant is another great target in the red zone. He’s not a speed guy like the other two but has good size and can go across the middle. Avant has proven how much of an asset he is to this team and I expect him to continue to find success.
In the backfield, you have Leonard Weaver and LeSean McCoy. Weaver proved to us that he’s more than just a fullback and can carry the rock when needed. He can pound the inside and will probably see looks when the Eagles have the ball on the goal line. McCoy isn’t the greatest red zone threat running the ball, but he can definitely present problems by catching balls out of the backfield.
Beyond those players, the Eagles have some additional guys who could help the red zone attack as well.
First, the Eagles could have a real gem in tight end Cornelius Ingram. He missed last season with a knee injury but is a total athlete. Ingram won’t impress you with his blocking, but his pass catching ability is great. If he can stay healthy, I think Ingram will see a lot of looks in the red zone.
The return of Hank Baskett and addition of Riley Cooper gives the Eagles some “go get it” receivers in the red zone. Both have good size and could be used in jump ball type situations. We’ve seen Baskett do it with some success in prior seasons, and it’s nice to have that option available again.
Adding Mike Bell and having large options behind him like Charles Scott should definitely help in the goal line situations. As good as Weaver is in short yardage situations, it would be nice to let him block while a big bruising back follows on his tail with a full head of steam.
The Eagles definitely have plenty of options in the red zone this year, and I hope they can use them all to their advantage.