2008 Team Capsule: Philadelphia Eagles
What Went Right
Okay, Brian Westbrook has, somewhat quietly, become a top back. And for point per reception leagues, he is essentially Jesus. Wait. There’s already a Jesus…a Purple one, at that. Okay, Westbrook would then be Moses. Yes, that sounds about right, especially for a Philly-based team. Anyway, Moses totaled over 2,100 yards from scrimmage and added double digit touchdowns. Just imagine if the Eagles felt comfortable giving him 300 carries. Just looking at the statistics, it looks like Kevin Curtis had a nice fantasy campaign with over 1,100 yards. Unfortunately, he was actually way too uneven to really help owners. In fact, his best game, a 221-yard, three-touchdown explosion against Detroit, accounted for half of his scores and about a fifth of his total yardage.
What Went Wrong
Let us count the ways. The Eagle offense could not find a rhythm in the first eight games of the season. Outside of a 56-point outburst against the awful Lion defense, the Eagles scored 13, 12, 3, 16 (twice), 23 and 17 points in the other seven games. Donovan McNabb got hurt again, which ushered in the less-than-captivating A.J. Feeley. Despite a second-half rally that featured a near win against the Pats and a 10-6 win at Dallas, Philly showed its age.
The Eagles tried to improve their secondary by bringing in former Pat Asante Samuel (by the way, here’s hoping he can pull down interceptions unlike the one he did not grab during New York’s final drive in the Super Bowl). In the process, the team may have to dump one of its starting corners from a season ago (probably Lito Sheppard). The team also made wise moves by severing ties with Jevon Kearse and Takeo Spikes.
The Eagles, who are allergic to first round picks, decided to once again trade down and make a couple of second-round selections. Trevor Laws, a defensive tackle from Notre Dame, will go into Philly’s vast lineman rotation. The more interesting pick was California wide out DeSean Jackson. He will have a chance to gain playing time with the offense and as a return man. The move helps Westbrook as well, as he won’t have to worry at all about returning punts.
State of the Team
Quarterbacks – If McNabb is in the lineup, the offense is potentially one of the best in the NFC. However, if McNabb’s health woes continue (he has suffered an injury in the last three seasons) the Eagles become a mediocre unit even with Westbrook in the lineup. McNabb still has the ability without question, but his health is a major concern once more. Having productive receivers other than “Downtown” Reggie Brown would be helpful.
Running Backs – As mentioned above, there’s no worries here, at least, no worries as long as Westbrook is healthy. The diminutive back has had some bumps and bruises, which is why the team tends to have him on a pretty low carry count. Basically, the Eagles much prefer to see him at 15 carries than 25 totes. While that can be frustrating for fantasy owners, it has helped Westy play in 29 of the team’s last 32 games. We will take it.
Wide Receivers – Jackson has been brought in, but rookie wide outs like him — guys that rely on speed and route running — tend to take a couple years to really pick up the NFL game. That leaves quite a pickle with the Philly receiving corps. Curtis is probably still the number one, we guess. Brown could still take that crown with a strong season, but essentially, the Eagles are probably in the same dire straits that they were last year.
Tight Ends – For some reason, L.J. Smith is still on the team. He’s got the worst hands of, well, any NFL player, including lineman and defensive players, that we’ve ever seen. But he is a good route runner, especially in finding soft spots in zones. So he and McNabb do have a decent rapport, and Smith will have his customary big games every so often. Still, because he is good for at least three or four dropped touchdowns per year, he shouldn’t be anything more than a deep tight end option.
Defense/Special Teams – A once top-flight fantasy unit is no longer. The Eagles were a minus eight in the giveaway/takeaway department last year. They didn’t force many turnovers; hence, a lack of defensive touchdowns. Jackson should do a decent job in the return game since he’s already being compared to Devin Hester. That’s pretty good. Anyway, the Eagles are a middle of the pack defense/special teams unit.