There may be no guarantee for an NFL season next year, but I can’t help but look forward to it.
After last year, it’s hard to believe the Eagles can’t win another division title. There were some serious holes the team needed to address, and they haven’t had the ability to do so without free agency. However, they did fill a big need by drafting Danny Watkins in the first round.
With the free agents the Eagles have, it’s hard to believe that letting some players go will be extremely detrimental to the team. Instead, free agency should allow the team to become much stronger.
Keeping that in mind, here are some specific reasons why the Eagles should be back on top of the NFC East in 2011.
6. Jim Washburn and Howard Mudd Are On Board
Battles are won in the trenches, and the Eagles have two of the best in the business teaching their warriors on the line.
Outside of Trent Cole, the Eagles have had a lot of players along the defensive line that haven’t lived up to their expectations. For many, their careers are far from over and Washburn is going to look to get them heading in the right direction.
Washburn will bring in a different style for his defensive lineman, and it will be interesting to see how quickly they adjust. You have to love the fact that the Eagles were able to pull him in from Tennessee, and I think he’s going to help improve the defensive line greatly.
On the other side of the ball, there was no lag for replacing Juan Castillo who was highly regarded as an offensive line coach. In fact, they got an upgrade by bringing Mudd out of retirement.
Much like Washburn, Mudd has a different mentality when it comes to his lineman. He prefers the more athletic types rather than the big brawlers, and this showed in the draft selections the Eagles made.
Mudd’s impact on the line may not be seen as well on the surface, but I expect Michael Vick to have a lot better protection this year than he did in 2010.
5. Special Teams Should See Big Improvement
Special teams often gets overlooked, but it can have a big impact on games. Remember the Giants game last season? Yea, big impact.
For many players, performing well on special teams is their only way to win a roster spot. That’s the case every season, and the hope is that those player who make the roster play the season with the intensity they used to earn their spot on the team.
Last season, there were very high expectations for the special teams unit with Bobby April taking over the reins. However, the special teams units had room for improvement early last season. They made strides as the season continued, and should have the ability to be dominant next year.
Colt Anderson is a young player who shined on special teams last season. He should be joined by Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle as guys who always end up around the ball on coverage.
These guys should team up with some others who are battling to make the roster to form a very solid unit.
4. Young Players Will Continue to Make an Immediate Impact
I’ve heard some people over the years say they don’t think Andy Reid drafts well. However, I have to disagree. There are constantly young players coming in from the draft and making an impact. Just look at the offense.
The Eagles will again ask their young players to contribute, not just the rookies. Jamar Chaney will have a large role on the defense as both a middle linebacker and a leader. Second year players Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, and Keenan Clayton will also be likely contributors.
Rookies Jaiquawn Jarrett and Matthews should also see the field, with Jarrett expected to start immediately. It doesn’t look like Matthews will start but he should serve a role.
Offensively, first round draft pick Danny Watkins has high expectations. The right guard position had no consistency last season, and Watkins is expected to solidify that position immediately.
Dion Lewis and Stanley Havili may contribute in the backfield as rookies as well.
3. The Offense Is Too Explosive
This offense is stacked with play-makers. They’ve struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone but seem to score more and more points each season. The big play ability is outstanding, and a number of players are threats to score every time they touch the ball.
Guys like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy has shown so much already and they haven’t even hit their prime. Jackson and Maclin are arguably the most dynamic duo in the NFL right now. Cover both and you still have Jason Avant and Riley Cooper.
McCoy is quickly blossoming into one of the league’s better running backs. He might not ever lead the league in rushing yards, but he’s not one dimensional. Shady is a huge threat catching the ball out of the backfield and developed his blocking abilities in his second season.
The tight end position was used less frequently last year as an offensive weapon, but Brent Celek is no joke. Clay Harbor showed a lot of potential last season as well.
Oh, then there’s that quarterback they have too. We’ll talk about him more later.
2. The Right Corner Position Will Be Filled
The carousel at the right corner position last year really killed the Eagles defense. Everyone who tried to step in as a starter played extremely inconsistently, and there was simply no stability.
With the free agency period being delayed, the question still remains about who will come in to fill the hole at right corner. Clearly, that player isn’t currently on the roster right now.
It could be Nnamdi Asomugha or it could be someone else. Regardless, the Eagles should have a lot more stability at the position in 2011 after signing one of the top free agents that are available.
Teams refused to throw at Asante Samuel for two reasons last year. First, he’s very good. Second, there was always a mismatch on the other side. It didn’t really matter who was in coverage. Odds were pretty high that receivers were going to get open on that side.
Bringing in another guy who is scary to throw at will make the Eagles secondary improve tremendously. Most people want Asomugha and it would be nice. However, I’m just looking forward to someone coming in and filling the void.
1. Michael Vick Has Hit His Prime
Was he good in Atlanta? Yes, but we’ve never seen him put it altogether like he did while in Philadelphia last season.
He proved to all his doubters that he can be a passing quarterback when he needs to be, and also showed us that he hasn’t lost his speed and ability to make plays with his legs.
We saw Vick make some poor decisions down the stretch with some of his passes, but I really think he lost confidence with his line. They weren’t giving him time and he got hurt.
Earlier in the season, when he was more confident with his line, he progressed through all of his receivers extremely well and found the open man every time. This is a big part of the reason why he didn’t turn the ball over in his first couple of starts.
With a year under his belt developing under Andy Reid and all the weapons he has, I only expect Vick to be better in 2011 than he was in 2010. If he gets stability from his line and watches his film from the end of the year, there’s no reason he shouldn’t have an MVP-caliber season.