Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles

NFL Team Column
2009 NFL Draft Recap

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27 April 2011

Philadelphia Eagles 2011 NFL Draft Preview

By Sean Claycamp

The Eagles could go in a number of directions in the upcoming NFL Draft, but the odds are with Andy Reid and Company picking a player close to the football. During Reid’s tenure, he has shown a tendency to favor picking players early in the draft on both the offensive and defensive lines. Perhaps Reid has a soft spot for the big men being one himself, but it could be he realizes that in the NFL the game is won up front.

A quick historical look to Reid’s draft history includes names such as Shawn Andrews, Winston Justice, Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Jerome McDougle and last year’s top pick, Brandon Graham. True, he has pulled the trigger in the first two rounds on skill position players like Jeremy Maclin, DeShawn Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and the QBs, Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, but Reid likes the big fellas.

History and necessity suggests Reid will stick with what has worked in the past this year and go big early.

The Eagles fanbase would likely want the Birds to nab an OL in the first round with Gabe Carimi getting a lot of run in the expert’s predraft mocks. I think Reid is happy enough with the Birds OL or at least happy enough to focus on defense in the early rounds, not offense. Also, new coaching hire Howard Mudd likes what he sees and will probably develop this group of young bodies in 2011. If you take a look at what the Birds have, true Winston Justice looked bad at times, especially late in the year, but he has played well most of the time as a natural RT. King Dunlap is a solid backup and Jamal Jackson is coming back from injury to provide even more depth. On the right side, Jason Peters is penalized too much for a player making that kind of money, but is a very good OL. Last year’s camp surprise Austin Howard is the kind of backup the Eagles historically have given every opportunity to develop. The rest of the OL spots are manned by steady performers.

So clearly the focus needs to be on the defense. Should the right value not be there for the Birds up front, the Eagles could really go any direction defensively in the first two rounds and come away happy.

Players I think they will focus in rounds 1-3 include:

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

Ras-I-Dowling, CB, Virginia

Tyler Sash, SS, Iowa

Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma

The Birds really need to come away from the first three rounds with at least one corner, one pass rusher, and someone to help in run support either from the SS position or from the SLB position. Last year, Philly did well in the later rounds with players like Jamar Chaney, Keenan Clayton, Trevard Lindley, and Kurt Coleman. Chaney looks like the MLB of the future and Clayton could be a real find as a WLB. Lindley and Coleman both played well as the season progressed. Don’t go expecting a LB early this year though because Reid has never done it despite a fanbase repeatedly begging for it.

Injuries sidelined Graham and last year’s second rounder Nate Allen. Both are expected to be back by training camp – if there is one – and Allen in particular should contribute a bunch in 2011.

Let’s hope for some help on all three lines of defense with some difference makers athletically. And, some added depth to the safety and DE positions in particular come next week’s draft.

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17 January 2011

Eagles Season is Over

The Philadelphia Eagles are headed into a long offseason to ponder how and why their season came to a crash landing to the same team in the regular season finale and the Wild-Card round. For the Dallas Cowboys, it was bittersweet revenge for them, after the Eagles put them out of the playoffs in Week 17 last season.

What's really disappointing is that in Week 17 of this year, the Eagles with a win would've clinched a first round bye and would've started playoff play this weekend in the Divisional Round. That didn't happen. You'd think there would be more fire in the rematch. The Eagles brought no fire to the game, appearing lifeless after QB Michael Vick found WR Jeremy Maclin for that 76 yard catch and run TD. It was all Dallas after that.

The Cowboys are known for falling apart in December. But after their victory over then undefeated New Orleans in the Saints building, that built their confidence. They then closed the year with 2 shutouts. The Eagles couldn't have had a worse point than to bump into Dallas to close the year.

Now what? Have Eagles fans grown tired of QB Donovan McNabb? Of course, every team and their fans expect to go to the Super Bowl, but personally, it's been painful to see their many underachievements year in and year out over this past decade. The Indianapolis Colts have gone through many of those too, but they do have a Super Bowl title, whereas the Eagles don't. They have an appearance, but what does it matter when you don't win.
Many questions will be asked in this offseason. Is it time to move on from McNabb and coach Andy Reid? Is it time to make some moves in personnel and roster? Where can they draft? They have a very talented team and have had it over the years, but too much failure when it counts.

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8 January 2010

Eagles Wild-Card Weekend: One of 3 rematches from Week 17

So much for the high-scoring game I anticipated. So much for the Eagles fans getting to see their team at Lincoln Financial Field in these playoffs. And so much for the Eagles failure in controlling their destiny to get a bye week this weekend. Yes, I'm sure everyone gears up for their team all week no matter what. But I'm sure the Eagles wanted to stay home and not play, instead of having to now fly back to Dallas 6 days removed from their 24-0 defeat in a game where things were bad from the outset. That loss gave the Cowboys their 3rd straight win, their 2nd straight shutout, and all momentum going into tomorrow nights win or go home contest.

But they have to put that loss behind them and re-focus. The good news is that they've seen their preview and can learn from their mistakes and correct them. The disadvantage is that Dallas has that same amenity and own any momentum from 2 victories over the Eagles, in particular this past one.

But this weekend is going to be one of the most interesting weekends. It's not every year that we see rematches from Week 17. We've got 3 this year. We were a Baltimore Ravens loss away from a complete round of rematches from the regular season's final week. How coincidental. We've got the Jets vs Bengals (Jets), the Packers vs Cardinals (Packers) and of course this one (Cowboys). The Jets are the only one who have to reverse venues, as their final game was in New York, whereas tomorrow they play in Cincinnati.

* Week 17 winners were noted in parentheses.

As for the Eagles, I don't know if I can really say an outcome in favor of them. One things for sure, they're the underdogs for this game. Should they emerge victorious, it will be a close game. History does favor the Eagles, who have been there time in and time out, mostly time in. The Cowboys have not won a playoff game in 13 years. History doesn't mean a thing in a do-or-die game. What matters is the output in the 60 minutes that you take the field.

Saturday: Eagles at Cowboys
TV: NBC 8pm.

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30 December 2009

Eagles Can Get 1st Round Bye with a Win

In the return to Philadelphia of Denver Broncos CB Brian Dawkins, the playmaking cornerback wasn't much of a factor as the Eagles once again went on the offensive. They prevailed 30-27 on a last second field goal, a game in which they had a 27-10 lead.

The win gave the Eagles their sixth straight win, and is a victory away from clinching the NFC East. They're also a victory away from getting a first round bye. The Minnesota Vikings, who had held the # 2 spot for pretty much most of the season, have not been playing their best football, lost in overtime on Monday night to the lowly Chicago Bears 36-30, a game in which they trailed 16-0 at halftime and at one point 23-6.

The Eagles (11-4) own the tiebreak on Minnesota due to conference record (9-2 to 8-3). But a loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon (game was moved from 1pm to 4:15) will assure that they will play in the 1st round, as a wild-card. After all, the winner wins the division.

The NFC playoff picture is set with the 6 teams qualifying. It's just a matter of seeding. The New Orleans Saints, despite two straight losses, have home-field advantage. If everything started today, the Eagles would be # 2 and would have an extra week of rest and preparation. The Cowboys (# 6) would play at the Vikings (# 3) and the Green Bay Packers (# 5) would draw defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals (# 4).

But the Eagles could sink down to the 6th spot very easily. It's probably easier to solve than the AFC Wild-Card picture. Arizona, at 10-5 could even get the # 2 seed. Green Bay will be on the road, no matter what, and probably will be # 5. Right now it's the following:

1) New Orleans (13-2): homefield advantage throughout

2) Philadelphia (11-4): conference record tiebreaker over Minnesota, who has an identical record. Clinch division AND first round bye with a win over Dallas. Final game: at Dallas

3) Minnesota (11-4): clinched NFC North. Can clinch 1st round bye with a win AND Philadelphia loss. Final game: vs New York Giants

4) Arizona (10-5): clinched NFC West. Could clinch a first round bye with a win AND losses by Philadelphia and Minnesota. Final game: vs Green Bay

5) Green Bay (10-5): clinched Wild-Card berth. Will remain # 5 with win OR Dallas loss. Final game: at Arizona

6) Dallas (10-5): clinches NFC East with a win over Philadelphia. Can clinch a first round bye with the win AND losses by Minnesota and Arizona. Final game: vs Philadelphia

So as you can see, a lot of things can happen on Sunday. The Eagles do control their fate. All they have to do is win without any help. But losing can drop them to the 6th seed possibly with a date in either Dallas, Minnesota or Arizona. Lose and a Green Bay loss would land them in 5th. We could see rematches from Week 17 occur on Wild-Card weekend. That could also happen in the AFC as well with all the tangling going on over there.

A lot of people complained that maybe the Eagles game in Dallas should've been flexed to the NBC timeslot because of the stipulations it has. Instead it's the Bengals/Jets game, because the Jets are playing a "win and you're in" game. I agreed as well, but, both teams are in the playoffs and it's really just to see who will be playing a home game in the playoffs, which all division winners are guaranteed one.

As for the game Sunday, Dallas did prevail 20-16 in Philadelphia back in November. But this time, expect a higher scoring game. Around, maybe 35-31 take your pick. Both teams have big offenses. Good defenses too, but it won't show up. Eagles are throw-happy now without RB Brian Westbrook and while Dallas may have the rushing advantage with RB's Felix Jones and Marion Barber, expect them to bring out their receiving weapons in Roy Williams and emerging wideout Miles Austin. TE Jason Witten is also one of the best receiving tight ends in the game.

On a worthy note, the Eagles will have 6 players representing them in the Pro Bowl: WR DeSean Jackson, hands down deserves it with all those playmaking abilities on offense and special teams (60 rec, 1,120 yds, 9 TD). FB Leonard Weaver was also selected, which personally, he deserves. No one stepped up more better on the ground game than Weaver (321 rush yards on 69 carries with 2 TD. 15 rec, 140 yards, 2 TD). OT Jason Peters was also selected on offense. CB Asante Samuel was chosen (9 interceptions, 1 forced fumble). LB Trent Cole (reserve, 12.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles). On special teams, K David Akers, who rarely ever misses field goals, period.

Sunday: Philadelphia at Dallas
TV: FOX 4:15pm

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23 December 2009

Eagles Clinch Playoff Spot with Victory Over 49ers

The Philadelphia Eagles have returned to the playoffs! After the Dallas Cowboys stunned the previously undefeated New Orleans Saints on Saturday night at the Superdome, the Eagles scenario going into Sunday afternoon was "win and you're in"

Due to a massive snowstorm in the Northeast during the weekend (Philadelphia was hit with about 2 feet of snow), the game was moved back to a 4pm start so the crew could shovel the snow off the field and the stands. That was actually a benefit for San Francisco 49er fans because for the West Coast, many are opposing the 1pm Eastern start times when a West Coast team travels to the East Coast, because that is 10am for them, which is early. They claim that players' body clocks have to adapt to the time zone factor, which when a Pacific team travels East, they lose time and they must adapt. Usually they fly 2 days before the game (most teams usually stay 1 night at a hotel near the home team's field).

Even if the 1pm Pacific start benefitted San Francisco physically, it didn't matter. Eagles 27, 49ers 13.

The Eagles victory did the following: clinched them a playoff spot, eliminated San Francisco from the playoff race, which secured the Arizona Cardinals the NFC West title for the 2nd consecutive year. For the Eagles, this is the 8th time in this decade that they will play past Week 17 in the 12 team single elimination tournament. But they are tired of underachieving. In this decade, the Eagles have done the following:

2000: lost in NFC divisional round to New York Giants.
2001: lost NFC title game to St. Louis
2002: lost NFC title game (at home) to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay
2003: lost NFC title game (at home) to Carolina
2004: lost Super Bowl 39 to New England
2005: no playoffs
2006: lost in divisional round to New Orleans
2007: no playoffs
2008: lost NFC title game to Arizona.
2009: ?

What's been a huge key in the Eagles 5 game winning streak is their offense in particular. Backed up by a top 10 defense which has been top notch since the days of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who last year passed away, the Eagles offense has answered with nothing less than spectacular. They've been doing this without star RB Brian Westbrook. QB Donovan McNabb has been throwing more, and 2nd year WR DeSean Jackson continues to make big plays as a speedy, downfield receiver.

Scenarios: Currently the Eagles lead the NFC East by 1 game over Dallas. Dallas beat the Eagles in Week 9, but if the Eagles win and Dallas loses, the Eagles will clinch the division. (Winning a division guarantees a team 1 home game in the playoffs.). The Eagles are not out of contention for a 1st round bye either. The Minnesota Vikings are 11-3, one game ahead of the Eagles. The Eagles could win out and Minnesota lose out, which would give them 2nd. Right now, if it all started today, the Eagles would host the hated Cowboys.

The next game will be an emotional one, as former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins returns to the city where he defined his career with his playmaking abilities that made him a fan favorite. Dawkins leads the Denver Broncos into Philadelphia. But this game is much more important than the return of a beloved one. The Eagles can clinch the NFC East, yes, but the Broncos have a lot more hunger with this game. Currently the Broncos are 1 of 8 teams fighting for the 2 Wild-Card spots. Lucky for them, they control their destiny as they are 8-6 along with the Baltimore Ravens (BAL owns the tiebreaker based on head-to-head) and 6 teams are tied at 7-7. The Broncos were 6-0 to start the year under rookie coach Josh McDaniels before their 2-6 record since. They're coming off a tough 20-19 home loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders, so expect them to take out frustration there.

But I do give the edge to the Eagles. High-powered offense that continues to roll. The Eagles have played too good of football to fail against these slumping Broncos that are fighting many others to reach the postseason.

Denver Broncos at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday 4:15 TV: CBS

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17 December 2009

Eagles win scorefest over Giants, in sole possession of 1st place in NFC East

The Eagles had been playing heads up defense for the most part of the season, ranking in the top 10. Despite making a couple of big plays, the defense was horrendous. That can be said for both sides.

But, the offense was the factor in this latest game for the Eagles. You can also add special teams as well. In a thrilling, hold onto your seatbelts affair in the Big Apple, in front of a national television audience (something the Eagles have grown so accustomed to), the Eagles emerged victorious 45-38. With the Dallas Cowboys losing to the San Diego Chargers earlier on Sunday, the Eagles claimed sole possession of 1st place in the NFC East with 3 games remaining. They stand at 9-4, in 3rd place in the entire conference. Fittingly, if the playoffs started today, the Eagles would host the Cowboys.

The Eagles played their 4th road game in their last 5 games. In these 4 particular road games, the Eagles went 3-1, beating Chicago, Atlanta, and the Giants. Those losses sent those 3 teams respectively to questioning whether they'll be playing after Week 17. Their only flaw came in San Diego, which can be legitmate (the Chargers are a very good football team).

This game was far from an easy task. It appeared easy in the first 6-7 minutes of the game. The Eagles easily drove downfield to open the scoring. The key play was QB Michael Vick throwing a 32 yard pass down the middle to WR DeSean Jackson (much more on him later) which eventually led to an 8 yard Brent Celek (TE) TD reception from QB Donovan McNabb. Four plays later, the Eagles struck again on defense after LB Trent Cole stripped Giants RB Brandon Jacobs of the ball, which in the air landed into the hands of safety Sheldon Brown, who took it 60 yards to the house, and all of a sudden it was 14-0 Eagles.

You'd think easy right? Remember, this was a division game, a heated rivalry and most importantly, a long way to go.

Most of this high-scoring affair came in the 1st half. After the Giants pulled within 14-3, QB Eli Manning tried not once, not twice, but THREE times throwing the ball downfield to WR Hakeem Nicks. Nicks dropped the first one after being wide open, then the next came in a tangle with safety Asante Samuel, then finally he connected with Nicks in what was a harmless 11 yard pass, only problem was that Samuel and safety Quintin Mikell missed tackles, and Nicks ran all the way home for a 68 yard touchdown. PHI 14, NYG 10.

With the Eagles leading 17-10, the Giants punted the ball, and here came DeSean. Jackson scampered down the sideline right in front of his teammates for the 72 yard punt return TD, and the Eagles led 24-10. An average Joe football final score is all happening and they hadn't even played 30 minutes of football.

Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw returned the favor with a 3 yard TD run bringing the score back to a 7 point margin with 1:30 to go before halftime. But the Eagles marched right back downfield in 1:20. The key play was McNabb finding Jackson for a crucial 44 yard catch, setting the Eagles up on the Giants 24 yard line. Then another, as Celek caught a 23 yarder from McNabb, right at the goal line. Then Michael Vick did his infamous scamper to the left and darted just through the pylon for the score. However K David Akers missed the extra point, so the Eagles led 30-17 at the half.

The Giants started the 2nd half with the football and orchestrated an 11 play, 74 yard touchdown drive taking up 5:35, capped off by a 1 yard TD run by Jacobs.

2 plays on the ensuing drive, McNabb made his one flaw of the day- an interception by LB Jonathan Goff. Unfortunately for New York, on the next play, Manning fumbled when he ran for a 1st down play. It was challenged by Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, because it appeared as if DT Brodrick Bunkley, who touched Manning, might've caused him to fall with the ball coming loose. However, Manning took 2 more strides after that touch and the ball popped out before his knee hit the ground. Eagles recovered, no capitalization.

But the Eagles went 3 and out and had to give up the ball. But 2 plays later, Manning found WR Domenik Hixon (who did not have a good day on kickoffs, fumbling twice) for a 61 yard catch and run touchdown, giving the Giants the lead. That missed extra point was the difference now. NYG 31, PHI 30.
Eagles lost the lead! Oh no! But was there panic on the Eagles sideline? Jackson once again stole the show, catching a 60 yard bomb from McNabb for the touchdown. 1 play. Answering the above question- absolutely not. Eagles ahead 37-31.
After the Giants went into the 4th quarter with the ball, they had to give it up. And then the Eagles once again went to work with probably the most well orchestrated drive of the night. 12 plays (6 rush, 6 pass). McNabb went 6/6 for 67 yards passing. 91 yards total, 7:24 off the clock, protecting and expanding the lead. FB Leonard Weaver, once again the scoring asset, finished the honors with a 1 yard rush TD. And to ensure a 2 TD lead, the Eagles went for two, and WR Jason Avant (who had a quiet day) caught McNabb's pass. Eagles ahead 45-31.

The Giants answered right back with a 14 yard TD drive capped off by Manning's 4 yard pass to TE Kevin Boss. There was one problem- too much time was taken off the clock. 1:31 left. Giants tried an onside kick which failed. Fortunately the Giants had 2 timeouts left (they lost one on the failed challenge). Although the Eagles went 3 and out, it left the Giants only 28 seconds to work with and 95 yards. The game ended when Manning had the ball stripped away and the Eagles recovered, sealing the win.

The Eagles could celebrate, but not before some extra-curricular activity. A brawl ensued between the linemen. In particular in involvement was Eagles LB Trent Cole and Giants C Sean O'Hara. Both players were penalized, but Cole was ejected for the punches. It didn't really matter though, because it was with 8 seconds left. Game over.

You look back at this game and weigh out the good and the bad. There was plenty of both.

The good: The team played without WR Jeremy Maclin and RB Brian Westbrook and played very well on offense. Despite the many miscues on defense, they did force 4 Giant turnovers (the other not mentioned was on special teams when Hixon fumbled at the end of the first half). DeSean Jackson finished with 6 receptions for 178 yards and the TD. He also added the punt return TD. Michael Vick is showing improvement as the 2nd quarterback as he scored for the 2nd straight game. He's also starting to throw again, as he hit Jackson for that 32 yard pass (his only completion of the game, threw 2 passes).

The bad: The Eagles missed many tackles. They were outgained 512-374 in yardage. They gave up 38 points despite the win. All of which is very uncanny for a defense ranked top 10 in the NFL.

But a win is a win and now the Eagles move on to their next challenge- a home game against the San Francisco 49ers. They can help the Arizona Cardinals clinch the NFC West if they defeat the 49ers on Sunday. But most importantly, they can strengthen their own playoff chances with a victory. And yes, the game is not on national TV this time.
San Francisco at Philadelphia
Sunday 1pm. TV: FOX.

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9 December 2009

Vick makes successful return to Atlanta, Eagles destroy Falcons

After not playing football for more than 2 years, when QB Michael Vick signed with the Eagles, some fans (who were probably in favor of Vick coming to Philadelphia) probably had December 6 circled on their calendars. Vick, who mostly works in Wildcat formation which has not been much of a success through the season, finally put it to good use. Against who? The team he played with for 6 seasons before his 2 year prison sentence for the dogfighting sting- the Atlanta Falcons.

Vick came out to a mixed reception from the fans at the Georgia Dome. By game's end, the fans saw the vintage quarterback of old that they cheered for with such passion. Michael Vick ran for a 5 yard TD and threw a late touchdown pass to TE Brent Celek as the Eagles beat the lifeless Falcons 34-7.

The victory, coupled with the Cowboys loss to the New York Giants in New York, ties the Eagles with Dallas for first place in the NFC East at 8-4. The Cowboys do own the tiebreaker from the 20-16 victory over the Eagles in Week 9. They meet in Dallas on the final week of the season.

The Eagles thoroughly dominated the game from the get-go. It's really surprising how the Falcons hung around for the first 30 minutes of the football game. The Falcons played without QB Matt Ryan (turf toe) and RB Michael Turner (ankle), two of their prominent players on the offense. They also played without WR Michael Jenkins (ankle). A lot of missing pieces hurt the team and the Eagles completely took advantage. But also, the Eagles missed a couple of vital pieces: RB Brian Westbrook and WR DeSean Jackson were both out with concussions. None of the two? No problem.

QB Donovan McNabb finished 14/25 for 238 yards and a TD. His lone touchdown pass was a 4 yarder to FB Leonard Weaver. Weaver also had a big 59 yard one-handed catch and run late in the first quarter to set up the Eagles into scoring position (only to be negated by a missed field goal by K David Akers). Those two catches for 63 yards summed up Weaver's day (in addition to 5 rushes for 37 yards). Weaver has really become part of the offense since Westbrook was injured. We have heard his name called quite a bit since that 41 yard TD run in the Giants game back in Week 8. Fullbacks usually don't get all these touches. WR Jeremy Maclin led all Eagles receivers with 4 catches for 83 yards.

The defense also had a hand. S Sheldon Brown intercepted a pass from QB Chris Redman and took it 83 yards to the house. That added more fuel to the fire. By that point it was 27-0 Eagles. Half of the Georgia Dome was gone. Anyone who remained were probably either Eagles fans or fans who simply came to see Michael Vick. There were many # 7 jerseys in the stands, Eagles and Falcons alike in support of Vick.

The shutout ended with no time left unfortunately. Redman threw a 3 yard pass which deflected off a couple of hands and into WR Roddy White. So the game ended 34-7. White did have a good game with 9 catches for 104 yards. That should help someone's fantasy team out there despite the poor play of his team.

Next game: The Eagles head up the NJ Turnpike to New York, for the 2nd battle with the New York Giants. The Eagles destroyed the Giants in Week 8, 40-17. That was in the middle of a huge downturn for the G-Men. After their bye week, they're 2-1, (their only blemish being a Thanksgiving disaster in Denver), standing now 1 game outside of first place at 7-5. A Giants victory over Philadelphia coupled with a Cowboys loss to the San Diego Chargers would give the Giants the tiebreaker because of division record plus their season sweep of the Cowboys.

The good news is that Brian Westbrook is expected to return after missing a few games with a concussion. This Sunday will mark the 3rd time in 6 games that the Eagles will play on Sunday Night Football on NBC. This will also mark the Eagles first visit to Giants Stadium since their NFC Divisional Round victory last season, 23-11.

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26 November 2009

Eagles Defeat Bears in Back and Forth Affair

The Eagles marched into the Windy City hoping to get back on track after 2 close defeats. For the 2nd time in 3 games, the Eagles were featured in the Sunday Night primetime slot, for all to see on NBC. The Eagles needed a win here to stay on pace with the Dallas Cowboys, who had won earlier in the day, improving their record to 7-3.

This game also marked another homecoming for QB Donovan McNabb. In his hometown of Chicago, he went 23/32 for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading the Eagles to a 24-20 win, improving their record to 6-4.

The win wasn't all on McNabb by any means. Heads up on defense and special teams especially in the 4th quarter led to this win. Trailing 20-17 with 11 minutes to go in the game, Bears K Robbie Gould lined up for a 48 yard field goal which would've assured that the Eagles needed a touchdown to stay alive. It was blocked by DT Antonio Dixon and on the ensuing possession, McNabb led the Eagles offense on a 62 yard drive which took 5:30 off the clock in the 4th quarter, capped off by a 10 yard touchdown run by RB LeSean McCoy, giving the Eagles the lead to stay.

Defensively, as the Bears were attempting to drive downfield knowing they needed a touchdown to win, they received the ball after a punt at the 2 minute warning on their own 21. But 6 plays and only 16 yards later, safety Sean Jones intercepted a tipped pass, sealing the deal and sending the Bears (who had high hopes after a 3-1 start) to their fifth loss in six games. The game-ending interception may have been the only one for Bears QB Jay Cutler (24/43, 171 yards, TD, INT), but he leads the NFL with 17 interceptions. The defense (8th in NFL) allowed 284 yards on the day (158 pass, 126 rush). Their only flaws were giving up a big 72 yard run to Bears RB Khalil Bell (called up from practice squad), giving up the Bears lone touchdown on Cutler's lofty 15 yard TD pass to TE Kellen Davis followed by a 2 pt conversion to RB Matt Forte (14 rush, 34 yards), which gave the Bears their 20-17 lead that didn't hold up.

WR DeSean Jackson had another big day. His touchdown came on a beautiful 48 yard pass right down the middle of the field, catching it at the goal line over 2 Bears defenders. That gave the Eagles a 17-12 third quarter lead. He finished with 8 receptions for 107 yards and the TD. His compliment, WR Jeremy Maclin finished with 6 receptions for 64 yards. Jason Avant who had a quiet 4 receptions for 26 yards as a follow-up for his 156 yard performance last week, had the other Eagles touchdown, coming in the first quarter.

It is also noteworthy to add that the Wildcat offense actually worked for one play. QB Michael Vick had a clean rush up the middle for 34 yards in the first series of the game, which got the Eagles into scoring position.

The Eagles did this without a couple of key players. Brian Westbrook was out, but LeSean McCoy filled in nicely in his place, although he did lose a fumble (20 rushes, 99 yards, TD). The Eagles also lost CB Asante Samuel to a neck injury but he is fine and is expected to play next Sunday.

Next Sunday, the Eagles come home to face division nemesis Washington before hitting the road for 2 straight games again. The Eagles and Redskins met on Monday Night Football in Week 7, with the Eagles dominantly winning 27-17, a game that was much more lopsided than the score indicated. The Redskins are coming off a tough 7-6 loss in Dallas, where they led most of the way before the late difference-making touchdown. That loss plummeted the Redskins to 3-7, a far distance away from the NFC East race. Dallas leads the division at 7-3, the Eagles and the Giants are tied at 6-4 (Eagles own the tiebreaker for now with their win over the Giants in Week 8).

While divisional contests are usually intense, expect another win for the Eagles. The Redskins are just a mess right now and while they've cleaned up a little bit since their meeting in D.C., it still isn't winning them football games.

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18 November 2009

Rally Comes Up Short in Loss to Chargers

For the first 3 quarters, the Philadelphia Eagles were lifeless against the San Diego Chargers. They were all but driven out of Qualcomm Stadium and their 2nd West Coast trip was going to end in yet another huge disappointment. (The first time they suffered a 13-9 loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders). After the first 45 minutes, the Eagles trailed 28-9. Those 9 points all came on failure to punch in a touchdown after reaching the red zone in all 3 efforts. All 3 efforts were also on 1st downs with goal to-go.

The other thing the Eagles loved doing is giving up touchdowns from exactly 20 yards away. 3 of the 4 Chargers touchdowns were scored from the Eagles 20 yard line. First was a QB Philip Rivers (20/25, 231 yards, 2 TD, 131.8 passer rating) short pass to FB Mike Tolbert where Tolbert had all open room in the middle of the field, opening the scoring. RB LaDanian Tomlinson scored the second of his two touchdowns taking a handoff from Rivers up the middle, the scurried over to the right uncovered into the end zone. Chargers ahead 21-6.

Lastly, after what was appearing like the perfect pass rush for the Eagles, Rivers, on the verge of getting hit, launched a pass into the end zone and wide open somehow was WR Legedu Naanee, who caught the pass while just setting his feet inbounds. He somehow broke free from Asante Samuel, who is usually a shutdown cornerback.

At that 28-9 score going into the fourth quarter, it was probably assumed that Eagles fans were turning off their television sets and calling it a day. Just before the end of the 3rd quarter, QB Donovan McNabb and the Eagles started to make a desperate drive. On a 3rd & 18 play on the San Diego 34 yard line, McNabb found WR Jason Avant, who made a spectactular one-handed spinning 21 yard catch over two San Diego defenders. That was a highlight-reel worthy play, yes, but it also kept the Eagles desperate rally alive going into the final fifteen minutes.

46 seconds into the fourth quarter was where the furious drive of desperation ended as McNabb found a wide-open Jeremy Maclin (WR) in the left corner of the end zone, cutting the lead to a 12 point game at 28-16. After forcing the Chargers to a three and out, the Eagles regained possession. They orchestrated a perfect 12 play, 77 yard drive which took five minutes that culminated with a Brent Celek (TE) 6 yard touchdown from a scrambling McNabb curled right in front of a Chargers defender. Eagles behind 28-23 with 7:12 to go. Turn those TV's back on Eagles fans!

The ensuing Chargers drive was the killer, as Rivers found crucial gains to TE Antonio Gates and Naanee once more, getting the Chargers to the Eagles 15. The drive killed more clock than the Eagles hoped for. And by the time the Eagles could get the ball back after a Nate Kaeding field goal, it only gave them 24 seconds. He did get the Eagles to the San Diego 34, but a last second desperation heave flew over Jason Avant in the end zone, which was intercepted by CB Antonio Cromartie. Game over. Eagles fall 31-23, dropping them to 5-4 going into Chicago for their second Sunday Night Football appearance in 3 weeks. With the Cowboys losing, the Eagles remain 1 game outside of first place in the NFC East, but dropped into a tie with the idle Giants.

The positives we can take: QB Donovan McNabb went 35/55 for a whopping 450 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jason Avant also had a career day with 8 receptions for 156 yards. WR DeSean Jackson also had 8 receptions for 91 yards. The rest: WR Jeremy Maclin (6 rec, 76 yards, TD), TE Brent Celek (6 rec, 47 yards, TD), WR Reggie Brown (2 rec, 36 yards), RB Brian Westbrook (2 rec, 26 yards), RB LeSean McCoy (3 rec, 18 yards). The Eagles also do not go down very easily. Their largest margin of defeat was 26 points in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. The 8 point margin on Sunday was their 2nd largest margin of the season, the others have come by 4 pts (13-9 in Oakland, 20-16 against Dallas)

The negative: McNabb threw for so many yards because of a lackluster running game. RB's Westbrook and McCoy only combined for 33 yards. The net yardage (rushing) was only 29 yards. However, Brian Westbrook suffered another concussion and is ruled out for Sunday's game in Chicago and according to Yahoo! Sports Eagles team report- he could be finished for the season, which would be a huge blow to the run game.

RB LeSean McCoy will carry the load for the most part, while FB Leonard Weaver will get some touches as well. Weaver did prove he's worth the ball back in Week 8 against the Giants, scoring the opening touchdown in that game. Despite 2 sacks on Rivers, the defensive unit was sloppy all day, pass and rush. The Chargers totaled 331 yards (212 pass, 119 rush) on the Eagles defense, which is now ranked 9th in the NFL (307 yards/game).

Next week for the Eagles: a trip to the Windy City for a showdown with the Bears. This is now Week 11. 7 more weeks of football to be played. This game could have some sort of implications in regards to the postseason. The Bears (4-5) are probably out of the division race with the first place Minnesota Vikings being 8-1, but are still well in competition for a wild-card.

However, the Bears have had their share of problems. Their biggest playmaker on their physical defense was lost for the season in their opener- LB Brian Urlacher. QB Jay Cutler, who was acquired in a trade from the Denver Broncos after a heated dissatisfaction with the club, has been inconsistent in his own right. Last week in San Francisco, he was intercepted five times in a 10-6 loss, the final coming on a goal-to-go situation.

This should be a win for the Eagles. They need it after these last 2 performances. 60 minutes of football is needed, not fifteen. You can't play from behind and then expect to win. With Chicago slipping on and off, the Eagles need to exploit their weaknesses. They shouldn't grieve over Westbrook too much. They showed they can win without him. It's a huge blow yes, because he works strongly in rushing and receiving, but I personally believe the team will be fine.

Eagles 24, Bears 17.

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9 November 2009

Eagles offense ineffective, lose tough one to Cowboys

Intense NFC East rivalry. Rowdy fans. National TV spotlight. The Eagles/Cowboys game from the City of Brotherly Love had all the effect of what I anticipated to be a physical, high scoring affair.

No explosive first half. No air shows from QB Donovan McNabb to WR DeSean Jackson (who had a very quiet game). For the 2nd straight week, the Eagles were without star RB Brian Westbrook.

To put the previous into the right words- the Eagles were outplayed. And somehow, the game came to the end. Cowboys 20, Eagles 16. The hero for the Dallas Cowboys? The man that the defense watched very well- WR Miles Austin. With the score tied at 13 midway through the 4th quarter, QB Tony Romo found Austin for a 49 yard TD reception, giving Dallas the 20-13 lead. That was Austin's ONE catch of the game.

Romo torched the Eagles for 307 yards (21/34, 1 TD, 1 INT). Most of his passes came on short catch and runs, often achieving Dallas big first downs. The Eagles did sack him 4 times and intercepted him once (safety Sheldon Brown). Sounds ugly, but it got the job done.

The Cowboys offense also employed the wildcat offense throughout the game. They capitalized on it in the 1st quarter when a direct snap to RB Tashard Choice was an easy 2 yard TD run for the opening score.

The main culprit of this game was the Eagles offense. Unlike the last 2 games, where they scored a combined 57 pts in the 1st half, the Eagles only had 6 last night. They trailed 10-6 at the intermission. McNabb was erratic, as he was hassled all night by the Cowboys pass rush. He was sacked 4 times as well. McNabb finished 16/30, 227 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT.

His lone touchdown went to TE Brent Celek (who might I say has flourished quite nicely since last years NFC Championship game). Even from my own view it appeared like McNabb went way over the line of scrimmage. Rightfully, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips challenged. It turned out that McNabb was right on the line. His feet were right on the line, meaning he was within his limits. Call upheld, touchdown Eagles, who at the time took a 13-10 lead.

Another big mistake on the Eagles part (and the same can be said for Dallas) is that they burned their timeouts way too early. The Eagles went into the 4th quarter with one timeout left. Coach Andy Reid unnecessarily wasted a challenge when RB LeSean McCoy caught a pass right at the 1st down marker. McCoy himself was ahead of the 1st down marker, but the ball was not. It's all about the spot of the football, which was short on TV replays. No conclusive evidence could overturn. This was in the 3rd quarter, so the Eagles had 1 timeout going to the final 15 minutes.

The Cowboys kept WR DeSean Jackson in check. Jackson, who torched the Redskins and Giants, was absolutely quiet (2 catches, 29 yards). LeSean McCoy led the receiving with 5 catches for 61 yards.

Notes: CB Asante Samuel was hit in the helmet by Felix Jones' knee. Samuel was out for a few minutes before walking off under his own power. Eagles kicker David Akers hit 3 field goals from 45, 48, and 52 yards respectively.

Next up for the Eagles: another big challenge. An inter-conference matchup with the San Diego Chargers out on the West Coast. The AFC is a very competitive conference and it has shown for the last few years. San Diego has a dangerous offense led by QB Philip Rivers. He's accompanied by the RB duo of LaDanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles as well as WR Vincent Jackson and TE Antonio Gates. The Chargers were up the NJ Turnpike at Giants Stadium. Rivers hit Jackson with :21 left in the game to give the Chargers a stunning 21-20 win, sending the Giants to their 4th straight defeat. Jackson had 2 TD.

So once again the 5-3 Eagles meet a team with an identical record, both teams are in the wild-card hunt.

Eagles at Chargers. Sunday 4:15 TV: FOX

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4 November 2009

Eagles play a complete 60 minutes, destroy Giants

On perhaps one of the best days of the geographical rivalry of New York and Philadelphia in my honest opinion, the Philadelphia Eagles took Lincoln Financial Field against their NFC East rivals from up the New Jersey Turnpike- the New York Giants. In what was anticipated to be a close, spirited contest, the Eagles proved that anticipation wrong with a 40-17 shellacking of Big Blue, in a game that was pretty much over before halftime.

For the second straight week, the Eagles dominated the first 30 minutes of play, scoring 30 points against a Giants team that went from 5-0 to now 5-3, leaving Big Blue scratching their heads after their 3rd straight defeat, as they sunk from 1st place in the NFC East to 3rd.

The Eagles victory, coupled with the Dallas Cowboys win over the Seattle Seahawks, puts them in a 1st place tie in the NFC East at 5-2, with a Sunday Night nationally televised showdown with the Cowboys on Sunday night in Philadelphia. This will be the 3rd consecutive divisional contest for the Eagles.

Despite being without star RB Brian Westbrook (concussion), there was no anxiety in the run game. They utilized who the Giants probably didn't expect- FB Leonard Weaver. Weaver opened the scoring early, in a drive that only took 3 plays, with a 41 yard up the middle touchdown run.

RB LeSean McCoy, quiet through most of the game, capped the Eagles scoring with a 66 yard touchdown run of his own. McCoy finished with 11 carries, 82 yards, and the TD. He added 2 receptions for 10 yards.

QB Donovan McNabb had another career day, going 17/23, throwing for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns (all in the first half) with a passer rating of 146.7. After CB Asante Samuel intercepted an Eli Manning pass, McNabb found TE Brent Celek for a 17 yard touchdown- 13-0 Eagles.

After the Giants pulled within 16-7 with five minutes remaining in the 1st half, on the ensuing play after the kickoff, McNabb found WR DeSean Jackson on a fantastic 54 yard catch and run touchdown. That was Jackson's sixth touchdown of the season. All six have come from 50+ yards. McNabb added a TD pass to WR Jeremy Maclin to cap the 1st half score at 30-7.

The Eagles 4 touchdown drives all ended in 3 plays or less. The offense only ran 49 plays.

The Eagles defense also played a big role in the rather enjoyable show for Philadelphia sports fans. CB Asante Samuel had the interception which led to the Celek TD, and free safety Quentin Demps added one of his own, his first of the 2009 campaign. Both INTs led to touchdowns. Samuel also forced a fumble on WR Domenik Hixon on the 2nd half kickoff which was recovered by LB Moise Fokou.

That led to a David Akers field goal from 35 yards. The defense recorded 2 sacks on QB Eli Manning, pressuring him into a miserable day (20/39, 222 yards, 1 TD, and 2 interceptions, with a passer rating of 55.7), they held RB Brandon Jacobs to another rush game of under 100 yards for him (20 rush, 86 yards). The only negative was that they gave up 215 passing yards as WRs Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, and TE Kevin Boss all had 50+ yard days. But all else, a phenomenal effort on the defense, as well as on all units.

The Eagles did everything that a winning team is supposed to do to win. They pressured the quarterback, forcing him into mistakes, they created turnovers, they used those turnovers to their advantage by getting points (20 points off 4 turnovers). They exploited a weak secondary that's missing some vital players and that has absolutely struggled. The offense did short work all game, but the defense did their part. Also, special teams played a role on the Hixon fumble. They also won the turnover battle (3-2).

The Eagles focus is now on the Dallas Cowboys. The last time the Cowboys came to Lincoln Financial Field was on the final week of the 2008 season, which ended up being a Wild-Card play-in game, which the Eagles destroyed the Cowboys 44-6 en route to the NFC title game. The matchup on Sunday night ends up being the same, with the teams at identical records. Although I did predict to myself that the Giants game would be a good game, this should be even more interesting.

The playoff pictures are going to start to shaping up, as we are now at the midway point of the 2009 season and the games become more meaningful. Expect the Eagles and their fans to come out in real full force. It is the Cowboys coming to town, after all, all the NFC East probably despises the Cowboys more than anyone. Expect a physical, high-scoring game.

The defense has to contend with emerging WR Miles Austin (26 rec, 563 yds, 6 TD). That will probably be the assignment of Cornerback Asante Samuel, who over the years with the Super Bowl dynasty of the New England Patriots has been a shutdown corner and continues to be such.

My prediction is once again a toss-up, but expect again, a close game. Eagles, prove me wrong again.

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27 October 2009

Eagles Explode early and Defeat the Sinking Redskins

The Eagles manhandled the dysfunctional Washington Redskins 27-17 in a game which was practically over by the end of the 1st quarter, in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football. WR DeSean Jackson had 2 TD, including a 67 yard reverse run to open the scoring 4 plays into the contest. He finished with 2 catches for 69 yards, 57 of which came on a beautiful double move on CB Carlos Rogers, leaving Jackson wide open late in the first half to put the Eagles up 27-7. However, Jackson left the game late in the first half with a right ankle injury. But he has shown why he's a leader on this team, by his phenomenal work ethic that he brings to each game. His 2 scores bring him to 3 touchdowns on the year, with 21 catches for 423 yards.

After a frustrating 13-9 loss to the lowly Raiders last week in Oakland, the Eagles came out and dominated the first half, scoring all 27 of their points before halftime. They went into Landover, MD (a suburb outside of our nation's capital) and took the fans out of the game (their contingent aside who made the 2 1/2 hour trip down I-95) while fans were still filing into FedEx Field. They played a very complete game. The defense blitzed all night long, sacking Redskins QB Jason Campbell 6 times, and recovering 3 fumbles with constant pressure and holding a clearly frustrated (on TV) Clinton Portis to 14 rushes for 43 yards. Newly acquired linebacker Will Witherspoon had a 9 yard pick-6, igniting the romp before the end of the first quarter.

QB Donavan McNabb finished 15-25 for only 156 yards, while Michael Vick came in for a few wildcat (or "Wild Eagle") plays, which have been rather ineffective for the run offense (Last night: 3 att, 9 yards). However, the run game didn't do a whole lot in general. Brian Westbrook (3 rush, 13 yards) left the game after the 1st quarter with a concussion, but was seen on the sidelines later on. His status for next week is uncertain. LeSean McCoy finished with 14 rushes for only a dismal 37 yards.

This game, despite that this was a divisional game, was probably easy for the Eagles as the nation knows that the Redskins are a mess on both sides of the football. Despite having talented players in Santana Moss and Antwan Randle-El, Jason Campbell has been proven ineffective, Jim Zorn was just relieved of offensive playcalling (we all know that fans in D.C. have been calling for his firing), the team giving 4 of their 5 losses to previously winless teams, among many other problems. Albert Haynesworth called out his team last night after the game, questioning his teammates desire.

Next Up: The New York Giants:

Next week for the Eagles comes the hated division nemesis. The New York Giants (5-2) march into the Linc in what should be a crazy fun-filled New York/Philadelphia Sunday, with (in all likelihood) a World Series Game 5 between the Yankees and Phillies (let's face it, the World Series will not be a sweep). Pattison Avenue and Broad Street, as well as Chickie's and Pete's, should be in complete and utter chaos because of the geography between the two cities in which probably a huge New York contingent will be traveling down the turnpike.

Also, this battle is for 1st place in the NFC East, so all the more it's going to be quite interesting.

With the run game all banged up, expect McNabb to be coming out with more throwing. With the Giants secondary banged up, McNabb should be able to exploit the pass defense, which in 2 losses to the Saints and Cardinals respectively, have come up ineffective, primarily with Corey Webster out for the season. The Giants will probably do their homework on Jackson, so Jeremy Maclin should be able to pick up some more plays.

Note: The Giants/Eagles game was originally scheduled for 4:15, but due to the World Series, the game has been pushed back to 1pm.

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29 April 2009

Eagles Make Some Moves in the 2009 NFL Draft

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles not only got some quality players in the 2009 NFL draft, but they got busy in doing so as a number of moves were made.

Here is a quick synopsis.

-To the Eagles: 1st round (19th overall) ... To the Browns: 1st round (21st overall), 6th round (195th overall )

-To the Eagles: 3rd round (91st), 5th round (164th) ... To the N.Y. Giants: 3rd round (85th)

-To the Eagles: 5th round (137th), 7th round (213th), 3rd round in 2010 ... To the Seahawks: 3rd round (91st)

-To the Eagles: CB Ellis Hobbs ... To the Patriots: 5th round (137th), 5th round (141st)

-To the Eagles: 7th round (222nd), 5th round in 2010 ... To the Saints: 5th round (164th)

-To the Eagles: 6th round in 2010 ... To the Colts: 7th round (222nd)

Of the moves, trading out of the third round seemed the most interesting. Here's how general manager Tom Heckert said it worked out.

"If there was a player there in the third round that we thought was a really good player, we probably would have stayed there and done that (made a pick). We just thought that there were a ton of players still on the board and we had the extra fifth-round picks -- at one time we had six picks in that round, and I'm not sure we had six players up on the board at that time -- but it worked out really well for us," said Heckert. "We were able to get Ingram, who we had rated a lot higher than the fifth round. I'm sure he fell because he didn't play last year (at Florida) and we knew those guys were starting to fall, so we thought we could move back and still get our players, along with picks next year. It all worked out in the end, I think."

He talks about Florida tight end Cornelieus Ingram. But perhaps the top two picks of the draft are ones Eagles fans will be talking about for years.

Jeremy Maclin was taken with the first pick, while LeShon McCoy was nabbed with the second pick.

Maclin, who went to Missouri, is an explosive, playmaking prospect who is a threat to score whenever he handles the ball. This will add some spark to Donavan McNabb's arsenal. He is also young, at 20, which means he will only get better with age.

During his collegiate career he was outstanding. His freshman year he tallied 2,776 all-purpose yards, which was an NCAA Division I-A single-season freshman record, and was the fifth-most ever by any player in a season in Division I-A history.

He followed it up 2,833 all-purpose yards in 2008 and when drawing comparisons, it is to Joey Galloway when he was younger.

As for McCoy, well he was Pitt football the past few years. A native of nearby Harrisburg, this is a player that Eagle fans will enjoy watching.McCoy, who rushed for more than 2,700 yards and 35 touchdowns at Pitt, may not have gotten the recognization that a Chris Beanie Wells did, but he is a special player. I expect him to have a very productive rookie campaign.

"I'm excited. I think we brought in two really good athletes," head coach Andy Reid said. ”I think they're explosive players and should add a little bit to our offense there."

The Eagles got the tight end they were looking for in Ingram with the first of its fifth round picks. While Ingram was highly regarded in the pre-season rankings, he was also injured and must show he is recovered. Asked about this on draft day, he had this to say.

"I think it is just more of a mental thing coming off of an injury like this. Nine times out of ten with some guys it might happen differently as far as getting hit a certain way but when I got hurt it was just me catching the ball and someone pulling my shoulder pads," Ingram said. “It’s more mental so I think once I start playing and I get going I will be fine. I will have no fear of going out there and just turning loose and being myself."

The Eagles also took two other players in the fifth round, with cornerback Victor Harris being the most intriguing. Harris played in 13 games last year for Virginia Tech and registered 46 tackles, caused two fumbles and recovered another. He also intercepted six passes and took two of those back for touchdowns. He can also return kicks and punts and may eventually move over to the safety slot.

"This kid, I don't know if you guys have had a chance to talk to him, he loves to play the game and he plays it very well," Reid said. “Now, his 40 (yard dash) time and all that didn't work out all-that well. I just took him because you can put him at safety or corner and he makes plays."

The other guy the team took Fenuki Tupou with the 159th overall pick. Big and aggressive at 6'5-315 pounds, he played left tackle in college and will be a project for the team.

If there is a sleeper in the draft, he comes to Philly via Maryland as the Eagles selected Moise Fokou. A linebacker, he is a kid with tremendous upside. He will contribute on special teams immediately, and as a strong side linebacker due to how athletic he is.

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28 April 2009

The 2009 NFL Draft Review: The Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles went into the 2009 NFL Draft with some specific needs, needs that kept them out of the Super Bowl and they filled most of those needs with smart and sensible draft picks.  With the picks that the Eagles had, they ended up getting some great talent and may have given themselves some of the building blocks that they need to get to the Super Bowl next season.

The following is a look at the Eagles draft and who they drafted along with a final grade on this team’s draft.
Jeremy Maclin-WR-Missouri picked 1st (19th)

The Eagles traded up to land this top of the line wide receiver and a guy who should have an instant impact on their team right out of the gate.  Maclin will help them stretch the defense and give quarterback Donavan McNabb a long range target.  Not only is he going to help them out in the passing game but he can also return kickoffs and punt which will also help the Eagles out.  This was one of the smartest picks of the first round.

LeSean McCoy-RB-Pittsburgh picked 2nd (53rd).
The Eagles went into this draft needing someone to help spell Brian Westbrook, the leagues most productive but overworked running back.  McCoy, despite some issues he had while at the University of Pittsburgh, should be able to come in and help improve the Eagles running game by being part of the one two back offense as well as spell Westbrook.  This was a smart pick although a critical one being McCoy has had some character issues but he should be just fine in Philadelphia.

Cornelius Ingram-TE-Florida picked 5th round (153rd)
This pick may be one of the riskiest picks that the Eagles made but could also be one that pays enormous dividends for them in the future.  They needed a tight end and ended up getting Ingram, a player who played well in the Gator’s system but is coming off of a serious knee injury and may not be quite ready to go by the start of Eagles training camp this summer.  However, if Ingram can return to the type of player that he was before the injury, he could be one of the leagues top tight ends in the not so distant future.  It’s a bit of a gamble but one that could pay out big for the Eagles.

Victor Harris-CB-Virginia Tech picked 5th (157th)
Despite the fact that Harris had a poor showing at the combine the Eagles still went ahead and picked him up to at least add some depth at the cornerback position.  With his height and some additional weight if he can add it, he might be a safety prospect but will take some time to develop.  This is an interesting pickup for the Eagles but one that could pay off in the future.

Fenuki Tupou-OT-Oregon picked 5th (159th)
Although the Eagles did manager to beef up their offensive line thanks to the addition of Leonard Peters, they still needed some depth at the offensive tackle position and they got some by taking Tupou.  He has a chance to make the team as a reserve tackle and could possibly start somewhere down the road.

Brandon Gibson-WR-Washington State picked 6th (194th)
The Eagles went for some additional depth at the wide receiver position by taking Gibson in the sixth round.  Gibson‘s size is pretty decent and he could contribute either right away or in a year or two.
Paul Fanaika-OG-Arizona State picked 7th (213)
The Eagles went for depth again, for their offensive line, and grabbed guard Paul Fanaika.  He is a developmental prospect that might end up adding some depth on the line at some point but perhaps not anytime soon.

Moise Fokou-OLB-Maryland picked 7th (230th)
The Eagles final pick in the draft will help add some depth at the linebacker position although he is a long shot to make the team.
Overall, the Eagles really got some good players at the top of their draft but still didn’t address many future starting needs with some of the later picks.  Maclin and McCoy will be promising future starters and there are a few guys that could stick with the team in the future.  Maclin was a huge selection however and will be the one who defines how this draft went.

Overall Grade: B+

By Bryan Dietzler

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