2009 Philadelphia Eagles Season Preview
2009 Philadelphia Eagles preview from MadduxSports.com. The NFC East once again houses 4 phenominal teams all capable at making a run through the playoffs. We will likely see teams over and undervalued off one good or bad performance. As NFL picks handicappers we can keep you on the undervalued and off the overvalued teams.
2009 Philadelphia Eagles Predictions
By Adam Barone
It’s easy to think that the Eagles are slowly losing their edge with Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook getting older, but Andy Reid and the coaching staff are actually doing a great job in retooling their squad. The Eagles have an athletic young defense that ranked seventh overall last season, and have added a number of dynamic young offensive weapons through the last two drafts. They also gave McNabb a raise for the next two seasons, eliminating any questions about whether or not he’ll be around as the starting quarterback. Anyone who’s seen Kevin Kolb play already knew that. McNabb’s only 32 years old and still has plenty of good football left in him.
Last season McNabb was benched in November, and it certainly got to him. Or maybe it was the Chunky Soup. Yes, I went there. You just got served. He threw nine touchdown passes and just one interception in the final five games of the season, finishing with a 23:11 ratio. He finished seventh overall in the league with 3,916 yards through the air, with a quarterback rating over 90 eight times, with five in the last six games. Rookie receiver DeSean Jackson was a big part of that, catching a team-high 62 passes. Kevin Curtis, who caught 77 passes in 2007, missed time with an injury and contributed only 33 catches. The passing attack should be even better with Curtis at full strength and rookie Jeremy Maclin added to the group. Tight end Brent Celek showed improvement last season, and could be a target in the red zone. No Hawaii 5-0 comments, sorry.
The clear-cut best player on the Eagles for years has been running back Brian Westbrook. He’ll hit the dreaded age of 30 this season, following an injury-riddled 2008. He had surgery on his knee in the off season to have it cleaned out, but the team drafted star Pittsburgh runner LeSean McCoy to help lessen his load. Former backup Correll Buckhalter went to Denver as a free agent along with 14 other running backs, so McCoy will certainly see some time. He’ll need to improve his pass blocking skills before he gets regular playing time though.
The Eagles took a huge risk in not bringing back either offensive tackle—Tra Thomas or Jon Runyan. Management didn’t feel the pair was worth what they’d have cost now that they’re in their mid-30s. One of the Andrews brothers, Stacy or Shawn, will replace Runyan on the right side. Shawn is typically a right guard, while Stacy, a tackle, was signed as a free agent. The team traded one of their first round picks for former Buffalo left tackle Jason Peters. Peters is a two-time Pro Bowler, but he gave up 11.5 sacks in 2008. The line will need to find chemistry early for the offense to be consistent.
Coordinator Jim Johnson’s defense is notorious for his elaborate blitz packages. The defense netted 48 sacks last season, third most in the NFL. Defensive end Darren Howard led the team with 10. Howard is part of a rotating group of pass rushers that includes Trent Cole and Victor Abiamiri, who the team thinks could develop into something special.
The linebackers are all relatively unknown, but have potential. Stewart Bradley, Chris Gocong, and Akeem Jordan are all underrated.
Free agent signee Asante Samuel helped to significantly improve the Eagles’ pass defense in 2008. Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, and the recently acquired Ellis Hobbs make up one of the better coverage groups in the league. Long-time Eagle Brian Dawkins is gone and will be replaced by either Quintin Demps or Sean Jones at free safety.
Kicker David Akers is still around, and doesn’t seem to be affected by age, as he’s one of the league’s most dependable. Jackson is a dynamic kick returner, and Maclin may also handle some of the duties.
The Eagles are always among the favorites in the preseason, and this year is no different. If the offensive line can mesh quickly and not miss a beat, they could certainly challenge for the NFC East title. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson make an exciting pair on the outside and could turn out to be the receivers that Donovan McNabb has always wanted. With his new contract and new toys McNabb could bounce back to elite status.