With the dawn of the most anticipated season in Philadelphia sports history about to begin, the question continues to linger, what type of team do the Eagles have? The Answer? A very patient one.
With overwhelming examples in the Eagles favor, two of which have come within the past six months. Let us remember back to draft day. The football world screamed the praises of a 300 plus pound defensive tackle from Florida St. named Broderick Bunkley. The Eagles having serious defensive line issues, the consensus was to trade up and pluck him from the mix. The Eagles remained patient and Bunkley fell nicely to their spot at 14. What is the value of such patience? By not panicking and selling later draft picks the Birds were able to make a minor trade in order to move up in the second round and grab Winston Justice, who is a mammoth of an offensive tackle who was projected by most to go in the first round to whom else? The Eagles. By showing the ability to wait while other teams were trying to pull the trigger on a season changing move, the Eagles very calmly ended up with two players who were projected as top 15 talents.
Example number two. The much maligned receiver corps. Patience once again paid dividends. While the fan base clamored for Javon Walker, the Eagles knew a receiver would shake loose, that would not cost them as dearly on draft day. Although the Eagles had a contract with Walker in place hours prior to his draft day trade to the Denver Broncos, another wide receiver would sign with the team later in the off season. Donte Stallworth of the New Orleans Saints was acquired in exchange for linebacker Mark Simoneau and a conditional fourth round pick.
We can talk about all the patience in the world, but this team still needs to go out and show people that 6-10 was an apparition. The national prognosticators have this team pegged as an 8-8 squad, one who brings up the rear in the NFC East. However as per usual the name Manning has netted the Giants three extra wins in the eyes of the national media. Be that as it may, the Giants defensive line and secondary are still very suspect, so much so that they will not finish first.
Outside of Philadelphia and San Francisco, people are not aware of the awesome destructive powers of one Terrell Owens. This coupled with the worst possible IF a team can have entering a season, depth along the offensive line, this could be a very long year for ‘America’s Team.’
The Redskins find themselves in a precarious position. One that could result in their finishing last in the division. Their position, sitting in the waiting room, waiting for Clinton Portis to heal. With much of the offense running through the all-pro their season hangs on how well his separated shoulder can heal and more importantly how healthy he can stay along the way. One vicious tackle that drives him to the ground with a defensive tackle landing on top of him, could leave the Redskins looking ahead to next season.
This brings us to the Eagles. With a bolstered receiving corps, one that should open the field up for Brian Westbrook more then it did once a certain receiver was banished, the offense could be back to its potent form. This team’s strength however remains in the depth and strength of the line play, both the offensive and defensive lines. The additions of the aforementioned Bunkley and free-agent Darren Howard on the defensive side and the return of Jon Runyan, coupled with the addition of Winston Justice, Max Jean-Giles and Nick Cole, these could be the most dominating lines in the National Football League. The most likely Achilles heel of this team will be the play of its outside linebackers.
The Giants still boast the Eagle killer himself Tiki Barber. Without a doubt the second week of the season will bring the Birds a heavy dose of screen passes designed to expose an undersized Matt McCoy and a disappointing Dhani Jones. Besides the line play, the strength of this team will lie in special teams. Even without a so-called return specialist, David Akers and Dirk Johnson the Birds have one of the best kicking games in the league.