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Philadelphia Eagles 2007 Season Preview

Philadelphia Eagles 2007 Season Preview

Philadelphia Eagles 2007 Season Preview
August 1st, 2007

(Sports Network) - Second-round draft picks don't often garner banner headlines, but this one did.

When the Philadelphia Eagles, following a trade that allowed the hated Dallas Cowboys to move into their spot in the first round, selected Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb with the 36th overall pick in the April event, a statement had been made.

Just what was that statement? Folks around the land of cheesesteaks are still trying to figure that out. You can count Donovan McNabb among those folks.

McNabb missed the team's run to the 2006 playoffs after sustaining a knee injury just before Thanksgiving, watching as Cinderella story Jeff Garcia marched the Eagles to the division title. But when Garcia defected to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March, a move that came just a week after Philadelphia had handed backup A.J. Feeley a long-term contract, the quarterback controversy was perceived to be finished before it had really started.

Then the team picked Kolb, and a new kind of controversy began. Maybe the Eagles were covering their collective tail, coming up with a plan B in light of the large blocs of time McNabb had missed due to injury in the past few seasons. Maybe Andy Reid and the organization thought that the 31-year-old McNabb was in decline, and that it was time to identify his successor before McNabb played his way off the field. Maybe both.

Either way, the perception in Philadelphia is that the McNabb era is going to end sooner rather than later, and that the team's quest for its first Super Bowl title is going to be more easily fought in the near future rather than the distant.

The window appears to be closing, and if he is serious about wanting a ring, McNabb had better navigate his team through it pretty darn soon.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2007 edition of the Philadelphia Eagles, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2006 RECORD: 10-6 (1st, NFC East)

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2006, lost to New Orleans, 27-24, in NFC Divisional Playoff

COACH (RECORD): Andy Reid (80-48 in eight seasons with Eagles, 80-48 overall)

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Marty Mornhinweg

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Jim Johnson

OFFENSIVE STAR: Donovan McNabb, QB (2647 passing yards, 18 TD, 6 INT, 212 rushing yards, 3 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Brian Dawkins, FS (93 tackles, 4 INT, 1 sack)

OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 11th rushing, 3rd passing, 6th scoring

DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 26th rushing, 9th passing, t15th scoring

FIVE KEY GAMES: at Green Bay (9/9), at N.Y. Giants (9/30), Chicago (10/21), at Dallas (12/16), at New Orleans (12/23)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Kelly Holcomb (from Bills), QB Kevin Kolb (2nd Round, Houston), RB Tony Hunt (3rd Round, Penn State), WR Kevin Curtis (from Rams), DT Ian Scott (from Bears), DT Monte Reagor (from Colts), DE Victor Abiamiri (2nd Round, Notre Dame), LB Takeo Spikes (from Bills), OLB Stewart Bradley, (3rd Round, Nebraska)

KEY DEPARTURES: QB Jeff Garcia (to Buccaneers), WR Dont Stallworth (to Patriots), DT Darwin Walker (to Bears), DT Sam Rayburn (to 49ers), LB Dhani Jones (to Saints), OLB Shawn Barber (to Texans), S Michael Lewis (to 49ers), CB Roderick Hood (to Cardinals), RS Reno Mahe (not tendered)

QB: The big question throughout Eagles training camp will be the health of McNabb, whose torn ACL last Nov. 19th was his second season-ending injury in as many years. McNabb is expected to be ready, but that doesn't mean he won't be looking over his shoulder. Philadelphia shocked the football world by drafting Kolb early in the second round, and if the rookie looks good in the preseason, look for a quarterback controversy to begin simmering. If Kolb looks like the rookie he is, however, the backup will be A.J. Feeley (342 passing yards, 3 TD), who hasn't played meaningful football since 2004 but was handed a three-year contract extension in February. Barring injury to any of the above, ex-Bills and Browns starter Kelly Holcomb, who was obtained in the Takeo Spikes trade, will be dealt or released.

RB: Though he was snubbed in the quest for a second career Pro Bowl bid, Brian Westbrook (1217 rushing yards, 77 receptions, 11 TD) comes off a career season in which he crossed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau for the first time. Westbrook will continue to be a focal point in both the ground and pass- catching games, though the team drafted Penn State workhorse Tony Hunt in an effort to preserve the injury-prone running back. The third running back on the roster is likely to be Correll Buckhalter (345 rushing yards, 24 receptions, 3 TD), who managed to stay healthy for just the third time in six NFL seasons last year and did a credible job. The less-than-versatile Ryan Moats (69 rushing yards) will have to beat out Buckhalter to make the team, which isn't likely. At fullback, Thomas Tapeh (16 receptions, 1 TD) should be able to hold off rookie Nate Ilaoa (Hawaii) to win a roster spot, though there has been some discussion of letting Hunt play that role.

WR/TE: Reid took a gamble in letting Donte' Stallworth walk away, as Stallworth was the Eagles' most explosive and productive wideout during the second half of last season. The hope is that third-year-pro Reggie Brown (46 receptions, 9 TD) and offseason acquisition Kevin Curtis (40 receptions, 4 TD with the Rams) can pick up the slack, with holdovers such as Hank Baskett (22 receptions, 2 TD), Greg Lewis (24 receptions, 2 TD), and Jason Avant (7 receptions, 1 TD) set to play support roles. Tight end L.J. Smith (50 receptions, 5 TD) has never developed into the star that some expected him to become, but he is still above-average in the passing game. Matt Schobel (14 receptions, 2 TD) will remain as the No. 2 tight end unless major draft-day reach Brent Celek (Cincinnati) can unseat him.

OL: The Eagles have the luxury of welcoming back up five players who were 16- game starters across the offensive line last season. From left to right - tackle William Thomas, guard Todd Herremans, center Jamaal Jackson, guard Shawn Andrews and tackle Jon Runyan. None of the five should be in a serious battle for his starting job during training camp, though the team would like to get 2006 draft picks Winston Justice (T) and Max Jean-Gilles (G) on the field at some point. Until that time, guard Scott Young and center Nick Cole will remain the trench unit's top backups.

DL: Philly lacked a big-time pass-rushing threat after Jevon Kearse (3.5 sacks) went down with a knee injury in Week 2 of last season, though players like Darren Howard (35 tackles, 5 sacks), Trent Cole (62 tackles, 8 sacks), and Juqua Thomas (25 receptions, 6 sacks), had their moments. Kearse is back, and the team is hoping he can shed his injury-prone reputation and last an entire season. Threatening for time in the rotation will be second-round draft pick Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame), who was solid but unspectacular in college and will be primarily used against the run. Thomas and Jerome McDougle (13 tackles, 1 sack) are probably fighting for the last job at end. The team added free agents Montae Reagor (10 tackles, 1 sack with the Colts) and Ian Scott (22 tackles with the Bears) to assist a disappointing group of defensive tackles, though too much has been invested in former first-round picks Mike Patterson (52 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and Brodrick Bunkley (9 tackles) to let either sit. If all four of the above DTs remain healthy throughout training camp, holdover LaJuan Ramsey (5 tackles) could be up against it in trying to make the roster.

LB: After several years of inconsistent play at the outside linebacker positions, the Eagles went out and worked a deal to place former Bills Pro Bowler Takeo Spikes (70 tackles, 1 sack) on the weak side. Spikes is 30 and has experienced some recent injury problems, but the team believes he still has some elite-level football left him in. Ten-year vet Jeremiah Trotter (112 tackles, 1 INT) may have lost a step in the middle, but is still among the league's best run-stopping linebackers. On the strong side, the answer will either be 2006 third-round pick Chris Gocong, who missed 2006 with a neck injury, or 2007 third-round draft choice Stewart Bradley (Nebraska). The loser of that battle will join the blossoming Omar Gaither (62 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT), disappointing Matt McCoy (66 tackles, 2 sacks), and possibly '06 special-teamer Tank Daniels (5 tackles) on the backup brigade.

DB: Many felt that the Birds would use the draft to address a secondary that was depleted following the loss of strong safety Michael Lewis and key backup corner Roderick Hood, but for the most part, that area of the roster went begging. Lito Sheppard (30 tackles, 6 INT) and Sheldon Brown (52 tackles, 1 INT) will once again man the corners, with the ever-present Brian Dawkins at free safety and the shaky Sean Considine (85 tackles, 1.5 sacks) on the strong side. Considine will have to be much stronger against the run, or backup and special teams ace Quintin Mikell (41 tackles) could be in for a more prominent role. Also likely to be active on gamedays are William James (7 tackles), who will play the nickel if healthy, and jack-of-all-trades C.J. Gaddis (Clemson), the only defensive back the Eagles took in the '07 draft. Joselio Hanson (35 tackles) appeared in all 16 games for Philadelphia last season, and is pegged for special teams duty.

SPECIAL TEAMS: After allowing Reno Mahe to walk away and cutting Bethel Johnson in June due to injury, Reid is more or less conceding the job of punt and kickoff returner to Jeremy Bloom. Bloom, the former Olympic skier, hasn't played in a meaningful football game since 2003, while at Colorado. David Akers (18-23 FG) and Dirk Johnson (42.6 avg.) remain reliable in the kicking game, and Jon Dorenbos will be the unquestioned long snapper following the retirement of Mike Bartrum.

PROGNOSIS: With the Giants and Redskins both in general disarray, and the Cowboys in the midst of a coaching transition, Philadelphia is the natural choice to win the NFC East in 2007. The thinking is that if Andy Reid could manage to win 10 games with a quarterback fresh from the scrap heap and a defense with more than a couple of bolts that needed tightening, he should fare even better with a healthy McNabb and Kearse along with some solid new run-stoppers like Spikes and Reagor. That's solid logic, though all bets are off if the injury-prone McNabb or Westbrook miss large chunks of the season. With some luck on the injury front, and a rejuvenated starting quarterback, there's no reason why Philadelphia shouldn't win the division and threaten for a Super Bowl berth.

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Re: Philadelphia Eagles 2007 Season Preview

Getting to 53: Philadelphia Eagles Roster Prediction
August 1st, 2007

(Sports Network) -Below we take our stab at predicting how the 53-man roster of the 2007 Philadelphia Eagles will take shape.

Below we take our stab at predicting how the 53-man roster of the 2007 Philadelphia Eagles will take shape: QB (3): Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, Kevin Kolb RB (4): Brian Westbrook, Tony Hunt, Correll Buckhalter, Thomas Tapeh (FB) WR (6): Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis, Jason Avant, Jeremy Bloom (RS) TE (3): L.J. Smith, Matt Schobel, Brent Celek OL (9): William Thomas (LT), Todd Herremans (LG), Jamaal Jackson (C), Shawn Andrews (RG), Jon Runyan (RT), Scott Young (G), Nick Cole (C), Max Jean-Gilles (G), Winston Justice (T) DL (9): Jevon Kearse (DE), Darren Howard (DE), Trent Cole (DE), Victor Abiamiri (DE), Juqua Thomas (DE), Mike Patterson (DT), Brodrick Bunkley (DT), Ian Scott (DT), Montae Reagor (DT) LB (7): Jeremiah Trotter (MLB), Takeo Spikes (WLB), Chris Gocong (SLB), Stewart Bradley (SLB), Omar Gaither (LB), Matt McCoy (LB), Tank Daniels (LB) DB (9): Lito Sheppard (CB), Sheldon Brown (CB), William James (CB), Brian Dawkins (FS), Sean Considine (SS), Joselio Hanson (CB), Quintin Mikell (S), C.J. Gaddis (DB) SP (3): David Akers (K), Dirk Johnson (P), Jon Dorenbos (LS) Outside Looking In: Kelly Holcomb (QB), Nate Ilaoa (FB), Ryan Moats (RB), Jerome McDougle (DE), LaJuan Ramsey (DT), Dedrick Roper (LB), Rashad Barksdale (DB)

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Re: Philadelphia Eagles 2007 Season Preview

Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Report
by Christof

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the Philadelphia Eagles training camp. This is the sixth time in the last seven years that I have attended. I remember the first time, back in 2001. It was the afternoon practice and there was a crowd. The crowd, however, was not large.

This year, the crowd was huge. Traffic was backed up a distance, and the parking was tight. That was the first of many surprises today. As far as the team, here are my thoughts on Eagles players and the team itself.

Donovan McNabb – McNabb’s 2006 season ended last November when he blew out his ACL. Since then, McNabb has been rehabbing. At this time, in my opinion, he is no where close to NFL regular season shape. Mentally, he is way too timid with decision making in regards to passing. Mind you, I am making this comment even after seeing him run on a broken play during live tackling. In addition, his passes are not crisp. McNabb is back to throwing above the receiver’s head or at his feet.

At this time, I do not expect McNabb to be the starting QB for the Eagles against the Green Bay Packers. In the best scenario, McNabb would not play until after the Bye week, which is week 5 for the Eagles. By doing this, McNabb will have an additional two months to rehab his knee and get his mind into the game.

By the way, what is McNabb thinking by going out of his way to voice support to Michael Vick?

A.J. Feeley – Feeley is the back-up QB and starter if McNabb is not ready for the season. Sadly, his performance today was worse than McNabb’s. His passes were just plain awful. The guy is still trying to shove the football into double and triple coverage. Feeley can be a serviceable QB in the league, if you surround him with talent and have an easy schedule. Luckily, for the Eagles, they have both – at least during the first quarter of the 2007season.

Kevin Kolb – Kolb has NFL talent, but he will have no impact on the Eagles season this year. Today was the second full day of training camp for the Eagles, and you could see that Kolb is doing everything to keep his head above water. This is because the Eagles employ a West Coast style offense. Kolb is pretty much in kindergarten when it comes to this offense. It will take some time for Kolb to learn. With that said, look for Kolb to be the Eagles starter in either 2009 or 2010.

Jevon Kearse – Like McNabb, Kearse season ended early because of a serious knee injury. The Freak has rehabbed himself fully, however, he still looks awfully skinny. For Kearse, this is a critical year for him. He has not lived up to expectations that the Eagles had for him when they signed him as a free agent. He also has a high salary. Therefore, if the Freak does not get it done this year, he may be done in Philly. At this stage, it could go either way.

Jeremiah Trotter – Trotter looked slow in coverage. Actually, he looked snail slow. I realize that he is a leader on this team, and because of this, he needs to be a starter. Lets hope that Trotter is simply a token starter. If he is anymore than that, opposing offenses are going to burn him to pieces. No matter what, this will be Trotter’s final NFL season, if he can last the entire season.

Sav Rocca – Sav is the Australian Rugby player who is trying to make the team as the punter. The guy is built like a linebacker. He sure can kick the ball as well. Unfortunately, consistency is the issue. I don’t think Sav will make the team, but he does have a cool name.

Overall, the Eagles are quite loaded. The defense will, however, carry the Eagles early on during this season. McNabb and / or Feeley as starter will be a work in progress. The Eagles offense will be much more dangerous in the December then it will be in September.

The Eagles defense looks good. This, however, may change if the club plays Trotter a lot. This may pain Eagles fans to read, but Trotter legs are done. Put him in for a passing play, and whom ever Trotter will be covering will be wide open.

Look for the Eagles to not only win the NFC East, but to contend for home-field advantage this year. The team will slowly build momentum, before peaking in January and February.

www.armchairgm.com

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