Load up the weapons
By Eric Feather
This off-season will determine the fate of this Eagles franchise for the next two to three years. It is no secret that this team lacks the star quality on offense to be a strong Super Bowl contender with their current philosophy; if Joe Banner and Andy Reid don’t snap out of their delusional, stubborn state then disappointment will be waiting once again in January 2010. This is what they must do to avoid the pain that plagues this franchise and its fans.
Objective # 1: Ocho Cinco
Now I understand that when you hear Chad Johnson the nightmare of Terrell Owens creeps into your mind. But, remember that the Eagles aren’t afraid to bring in a big ego guy—keep in mind they were tantalizingly close to signing Randy Moss last year who doesn’t have exactly have a squeaky clean record. Bringing in Johnson, who has publicly stated he would love to play with McNabb, would be a Brady-Moss scenario. Johnson would be a revived player whose talents would flourish under a new team just like Moss. A first rounder for a guy who has legally changed his name to the incorrect Spanish term for 85 is a small price to pay. Chad, Desean, Curtis = DANGEROUS!
Objective # 2: Derrick Ward
Anyone who is having their Madden fantasy dreams of signing Brandon Jacobs or trading for LT needs to put it to rest—it isn’t happening. Derrick Ward proved to be a great complimentary back to Jacobs this year, and he is a tough in-between the tackles runner who can pick up that one yard that led to so many Eagles losses over the past few years (ever think you’d pine for Dorsey Levens after he left?). Ward will only make Westbrook more of a threat because he’d give #36 more flexibility to rove outside or motion to the slot while Ward would still pose a legitimate threat in the backfield. It’s a win-win.
Objective # 3: Address the O-Line
Runyan or Thomas? One of them is most likely to go. If the Carolina Panthers do not franchise tag Jordan Gross, expect the birds to go after him full throttle and I think they should. One of Andy’s only strengths when it comes to personnel is evaluating talent on the offensive line. If Gross gets franchised, then OT Jason Smith from Baylor should be on the radar. This kid is 6’5, 300 pounds, and will hopefully not pull a Winston Justice (you’ve had your mulligan Andy). The return of Shawn Andrews and emergence of Nick Cole will greatly improve the line in ’09.
Objective #4: Tight End
LJ Smith is GONE, thank God! He’s been an underachiever since his first game in the league and it’s time to give up on this guy. Brent Celek proved that he could be the red-zone catching tight end that McNabb needs. However, his blocking is suspect. It is hard to argue with Mattare on this one; Jim Kleinsasser is the ideal candidate. He can be used in and out of the backfield for both pass and run blocking. He’s not flashy but he’s been productive and reliable throughout his career.
These are the moves that will get this offense over their NFC Championship woes in 2009!