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Old 07-23-2004, 03:37 PM   #1
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Another in the line of insider articles

Here is Philadelphia's scouting report
http://proxy.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=1843916
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Old 07-23-2004, 03:44 PM   #2
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I think that lost in all the TO hoopla is the fact that the Eagles are still weak at RB, LB, and CB. I dont know what other people are feeling but I think the Eagles hype is out of control and they are overrated
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Old 07-23-2004, 03:59 PM   #3
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don't have insider
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Old 07-23-2004, 03:59 PM   #4
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Old 07-23-2004, 04:16 PM   #5
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For the Outsiders

Quarterbacks
Donovan McNabb rebounded from a terrible start last year to emerge as one of the best and most dangerous QBs in the NFL. After six games into the '03 season, McNabb was ranked dead last among starters with a 48.7 percent completion rating. To his credit, he fought through the slump and finished the season strong despite not having a franchise receiver on the perimeter.

McNabb is not the most accurate passer, but he is a tremendous athlete and will benefit from the arrival of WR Terrell Owens, who was acquired in an offseason trade. Owens is a big target and will transform what once were dropped balls or interceptions into receptions. The presence of a go-to guy in the passing game may lift McNabb and the Eagles to new heights in '04.

Koy Detmer enters the season as the No. 2, and while he has an excellent knowledge of the West Coast offense, he lacks the physical skills to step into the starting lineup for any real length of time. Detmer will get strong competition from veteran Jeff Blake, who was signed during the offseason. Blake probably doesn't have the feel for this offense that Detmer has, nor the coaches' confidence, but his physical skills are better and he may be able to unseat the long-standing backup.

In any case, Philadelphia has solid depth behind McNabb. Sixth-round pick Andy Hall will fit nicely in Andy Reid's scheme, but he is a developmental guy who will likely be relegated to the practice squad.

Running Backs
With Duce Staley no longer in town, this running back-by-committee design will be without its most consistent performer in '04. Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter complement each other nicely, but there are some obvious concerns about their ability to carry a full-load without the help of Staley.

Westbrook is undersized and may never be an every-down back, and although Buckhalter rebounded from a knee injury in '02 to have a solid year last year, durability remains a concern with him. The Eagles like to move Westbrook around in order to dictate favorable matchups in the passing game. He is extremely explosive and can turn the short throw into a big play.

Buckhalter lacks Westbrook's burst, but he is a solid tackle-to-tackle runner and will grind tough yards out inside. Reno Mahe has a chance to contribute as the team's third-down back, but in all reality, most of those opportunities will go to the sure-handed Westbrook.

Fifth-round pick, Thomas Tapeh has good versatility and will provide depth behind both the fullback and running back positions. FB Jon Ritchie is an excellent lead blocker but he has virtually no worth as a ball carrier. A player to keep an eye on is seventh-round pick, Bruce Perry who could push for playing time and pick up some of the slack left behind by Staley. This group gets it done by committee, and while there is a lot of versatility here in terms of overall skills, the Eagles are still lacking a physical, pound-it-out back that can close games out.

Receivers
Last season, the Eagles' wideouts combined for just five touchdowns, but that could all change in '04 now that Terrell Owens is in town. The ex-49er should be the go-to guy this franchise needs to put it over the top.

Owens is big and physical and will provide a big-play element that this offense has lacked in the past. As the chemistry between Owens and McNabb grows, this tandem could emerge as one of the most explosive in football.

The rest of the depth chart also receives a boost now that Owens is on board. Todd Pinkston is a much better fit as a No. 2 than he was as a No. 1 and should benefit from the attention that Owens will draw. Freddie Mitchell will work out of the slot, and while he doesn't have great speed, he continues to improve and could surface as one of the better No. 3s in the league.

The duo of Billy McMullen, who has excellent size and good athleticism, and the speedy Greg Lewis will be counted on to fill out this wide receiving corps on the perimeter. However, the depth of this unit really drops off after Mitchell.

At TE, the Eagles are fortunate to have two solid players in L.J. Smith, who we believe is a star in the making, and veteran Chad Lewis. Smith is athletic, and although he had some drops as a rookie, he can stretch the field and give you big plays down the middle. Lewis is starting to age, but still has excellent hands and is good in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Neither is a devastating blocker, but they have good athleticism, get into position and are extremely versatile.

Offensive Line
This is a unit that has been very good over the past few seasons, but it is going through a little bit of an overhaul in 2004. Obviously, the coaching staff was not comfortable with the depth of this group as they used four of this year's draft picks on offensive linemen.

The Eagles have two established tackles in LOT Tra Thomas and ROT Jon Runyan, but both are coming off disappointing seasons in which they were only adequate and did not play up to their standards.

Inside, there is also work to be done with the loss of John Welbourn in a trade to Kansas City. Former starting ROG Jermane Mayberry will move to LOG, which is Welbourn's old spot, and this year's first-round draft selection Shawn Andrews will be penciled in as the starter on the right side.

Mayberry is an excellent technician who rarely commits a penalty, but he is not a dominating player and is coming off a season in which he missed time in with elbow problems. Andrews is a big, wide-bodied guy who has a chance to turn into on outstanding run blocker, but will need time to work on his pass protection and improve his range. The ultimate plan for the Eagles is to start Andrews at ROG, but eventually move him out to ROT when Runyan's skills start to decline.

The important sixthman in this group is Artis Hicks. He has solid overall skills, and is also a young player who this coaching staff thinks could eventually take over for Tra Thomas at LOT. He will back up virtually every spot along the line and give the Eagles a quality reserve they can depend on.

There is not much veteran depth behind this group, but the Eagles found a couple of developmental types in this year's draft. Jeremy Bridges, selected in the sixth round, and Trey Darilek, who was selected in the fourth round, are both young tackle prospects who will be brought along slowly.

Manning the middle at OC is Hank Fraley, and while he is not a dominating player, he makes all the line calls and is a good angle blocker. The Eagles would eventually to like to upgrade here, but there isn't a better option available to them at this point.

Defensive Line
Injuries and lackluster play from a year ago changed a projected strength on this football team to a weakness. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson loves to blitz, which puts his cornerbacks on an island, but the front four didn't hold up their end of the bargain last year as the DEs combined for only eight sacks in '03.

The Eagles are hoping that RDE Jevon Kearse can help to rectify the situation. Although Kearse is coming off an injury marred '03 campaign, he is a dominating pass rusher who has excellent speed off the corner, and can help to mask the loss of starting corners, Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent. The Eagles plan to move Kearse around to dictate matchups, but it is important to remember that he has only played in 18 games over the last two seasons, and durability is certainly a concern.

At LDE, former first-round pick Jerome McDougle will get the chance to win the starting job after missing most of his rookie season with a leg injury. McDougle has the size to play the run, and while he lacks an array of pass rush moves, he has the speed and quickness to develop into a solid complement for Kearse.

The inside duo at DT is among the best in the NFL as Corey Simon and Darwin Walker form a formidable pair. Simon is a short, stocky inside penetrator who has excellent first-step quickness. He is a Pro Bowl player who is explosive at the point of attack but could be a possible holdout during camp as he appears unhappy with his contract.

Walker is a little bit of an up-and-down player, and while he does not give you the big plays that Simon does, he is still very effective. Last year, the two were forced to play more downs than they are comfortable handling as Hollis Thomas and Paul Grasmanis missed considerable time with injuries.

However, with Thomas and Grasmanis healthy entering training camp, the four-man DT wave will back to full strength. Derrick Burgess and N.D. Kalu will provide depth at defensive end. There is a lot of talent up front as the Eagles have a solid eight- to nine-man wave, but in order to be productive this group will need to avoid the injuries that ruined their '03 season.

Linebackers
This is not a very stable unit for a Super Bowl-contending team heading into the 2004 season. Although the Eagles' coaching staff will tell you that they love fast, athletic guys, and this group certainly does have speed and range, it is also undersized and is not very physical.

MLB Mark Simoneau is a perfect example. He is quick, takes good angles to the ball and knows how to slip blocks, but he also tends to wear down, and if you get a big body on him, he really struggles to get off. All of his success comes when he is on the move, when he can read the play and beat the offensive blocker to the point of attack.

At WLB, Nate Wayne returns as the starter, and while he has good athletic ability, he did not have a great '03 season as he wasn't as consistent a tackler as the Eagles would've liked. Wayne didn't make a lot of big plays, and he got himself into problems at times by gambling and taking some chances.

The Eagles let defensive MVP Carlos Emmons leave in free agency and replaced him with Dhani Jones on the strong side. There is some talk that the Eagles could experiment in training camp by moving Jones to MLB, Simoneau to the weak side and Wayne to the strong side. But even though those moves may fit the physical skills of all three players, that's a lot of change for a veteran football team, and it will probably not happen as a result.

The No. 4 linebacker in this unit is Ike Reese, who has the versatility to play all three positions and will basically be the swing guy in this group. OLB Keith Adams will add some depth while Justin Ena rounds things out as a special teams' contributor. There is not a lot of quality depth here, so the margin for error is slim.

Defensive Backs
Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent had a combined 17 seasons of starting production for the Eagles before being let go in the offseason. This secondary, at least on the perimeter, is a whole new ball game for defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Taylor and Vincent were big physical corners who loved to play press coverage, but their skills started to wane last year, which is why the Eagles have moved on.

The two starting corners in '04 will be Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. Both are young and are good athletes, but there is a lot of work to be done. Sheppard has good speed and big potential at CB, but he lacks great size and may have trouble matching up against bigger receivers. He has a chance to develop into good player, but right now, he is a guy who you worry about giving up big plays because of blown assignments.

Brown has less speed and less explosiveness, but he has a better feel than Shepperd, and is a solid technician who doesn't make a lot of mistakes. The Eagles drafted Matt Ware, a big physical corner in the third round this year, and while he has the chance to match up like the Eagles' corners of the past, he is raw and will need some seasoning.

Also in the mix is Roderick Hood, another big, physical corner who will likely fit into the team's nickel and dime schemes. The outlook at safety is much better as Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis form an enviable starting pair. Although Dawkins missed several games with a foot injury a year ago, he is one of the best in the business and is an absolute playmaker.

Lewis, much like Dawkins, is a big hitter and at times, plays like a linebacker. He is smart, instinctive and covers a lot of ground. The third safety in this group is Clinton Hart, who started nine games for Dawkins a year go and will be the swing guy at both positions in '04.

Fourth-round draft pick J.R. Reed has a nice upside but will be brought along slowly. The key for this secondary is the pressure upfront.

Obviously, Philadelphia would like to blitz less in '04 to protect its corners a little better, but if the pass rush is not good enough, the Eagles will be forced to gamble. Sheppard and Brown are talented, but they may not be ready to consistently play on an island in their first year as starters.

Special Teams
PK David Akers is one of the best in the NFL, not only in terms of accuracy, but also in terms of handling kicks under pressure. He is especially effective in the weather conditions in Philadelphia; his coaching staff likes his demeanor, leg strength and consistency.

However, the situation at the punting position is not quite as stable as young Dirk Johnson has had trouble with consistency. He seems to handle pressure well and has a strong leg, but he is still too much of an up-and-down guy for a championship-caliber team.

There are also changes on board in the return game for the Eagles. Obviously, the easy answer would be to give the return chores to RB Brian Westbrook, but the coaching staff would like to limit his responsibilities in the kicking game and allow him to concentrate on playing offense.

If they can get away with that, they will probably look to rookie Dexter Wynn, who averaged 15.0 yards as a punt returner on the college level. Wynn has big-play potential but obviously no experience.

At KOR, the Eagles will take a long look at J.R. Reed, who led the nation in kick off returns as a senior in college. If both rookies fail, look for the coaching staff to reinsert Westbrook or give a shot to Reno Mahe, who is scheduled to be a backup RB. Cover teams for Philadelphia are always excellent and are well coached.
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Old 07-23-2004, 09:28 PM   #6
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they got TO, kearse, and akers, yay...

i can't take away that they've done very well over the last few years, but they don't look all that strong on paper.
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Old 07-23-2004, 11:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by That Guy
they got TO, kearse, and akers, yay...

i can't take away that they've done very well over the last few years, but they don't look all that strong on paper.
yeah they got those nice looking holes in their cornerback and lb groups.
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Old 07-24-2004, 07:07 PM   #8
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oh my bad, i thought you would be able to read it anyways, thanks smootsmack
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Old 07-25-2004, 05:10 AM   #9
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they got TO, kearse, and akers, yay....
What they don't have are 2 gimmie wins over us this year. No more 12-4 records for them.
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Old 07-25-2004, 05:37 AM   #10
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well, our WRs are better this year (if coles is healthy), and their CBs are MIA... (and we even have a running game and protection schemes, unlike last year).
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