Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Philadelphia Eagles Look Mighty Like the Miami Heat Right About Now...

How they're paying for it I don't know, but Philadelphia is doing this year what the Miami Heat did last year, or what the Bears did in free agency with Julius Peppers and all the rest of their free agents. The Eagles have signed or traded for four former Pro Bowlers and one guy who probably should've made it... in the last four days. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Vince Young and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have the rest of the NFC East shaking in their collective shoes about now. (Johnnie Lee Higgins doesn't, but just wait.)

Philadelphia, as a team, tied for 10th last year with 39 sacks. Babin and Jenkins, between them, had 19.5 sacks last year (and Jenkins played only 11 games). They will instantly make life easier for Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, who will likely be used in a rotation. Jenkins can play inside as well as outside, but the Eagles now have an enviable stable of guys who can get after the passer. They look a lot like the 2007 New York Giants on the line. 

The secondary is phenomenal. I've never been a Rodgers-Cromartie fan and I think he's overrated, but having a former Pro Bowler as your nickel back (not to mention one that's only in his fourth season) is an awe-inspiring possibility. If they keep Asante Samuel, and I don't know why they wouldn't, the Eagles are stacked. 

The reason why I think these signings are going to work, as opposed to the Redskins' traditional spending sprees that always fell flat, is because the collective talent level in Philadelphia was already so high. Two excellent receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, a competent tight end in Brent Celek, a good RB in LeSean McCoy, and of course Michael Vick himself. Their offensive line isn't great, but that's less of a factor with a scrambling QB like Vick. 

The only thing that could derail this express is injuries. The team got Vince Young to do backup duty because Vick is likely to miss time this year as well; it's the cost of doing business, so to speak, of having a scrambling QB. Jenkins has a long injury history, Graham missed most of last year and Jackson has also missed time. If Andy Reid can coach 'em, though, and if the Eagles stay healthy, they're officially the team to beat in the NFC (alongside the Packers). 

Stray notes:

-On the other side of the league, New England just keeps making itself better. Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork on the same line could be almost unfair, if they get the former to work hard. 

-Unnoticed in all the scrambling, the Bears picked up former Jets bust Vernon Gholston. Keep an eye on this signing. Gholston is built like Hercules, but never fit as a 3-4 OLB or 3-4 DE in New York. If Rod Marinelli and Mike Phair can teach Gholston the ways of the 4-3 and turn him into a legitimate pass-rusher, look out below.

-Speaking of the Bears, I don't get their receiving corps moves. Roy Williams had his best years with Martz in Detroit, but that was four years ago and Williams isn't the Pro Bowl type. Plus, whatever happened to Greg Olsen? He's built along the lines of Jermichael Finley, but Martz never utilized him the way McCarthy's been able to deploy Finley. The Panthers got a steal there. 

-New Orleans and Green Bay always get compared because their coaches' fates were linked: Sean Payton was considered seriously in Green Bay before Mike McCarthy came on board, and Dom Capers was the Packers' third-choice defensive coordinator after Greg Williams (now the Saints' DC). Both teams look extremely deep at WR and RB, especially since the Saints just signed my longtime crush, Darren Sproles. If Drew Brees isn't throwing picks, I don't really know how you stop that offense right now. The NFL's opening game could be one of its best all year.

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