Eagles ready to soar on offense
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
NEW YORK -- Andy Reid and the Eagles are ruining one of the most enduring story lines in the league. Year after year, we hear complaints from fans -- and a certain quarterback -- that Philadelphia hasn't surrounded Donovan McNabb with enough weapons.
On Saturday, the Eagles continued an offensive overhaul that could give them one of the most explosive units in football. Maybe McNabb's reported demands have paid off, because in one week's time, the Eagles have added an elite left tackle, another dynamic wide receiver and a legitimate backup (and someday replacement) for Brian Westbrook. Fans and local writers had put out an edict that the Eagles had to take a running back in the first round -- especially after the No. 28 pick was shipped to Buffalo.
|The Eagles were thrilled to add a receiving threat like Jeremy Maclin with the No. 19 pick.|
But when the Eagles saw Knowshon Moreno go off the board nine spots ahead of them and then Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin started a fall, the strategy changed. By moving up two spots to No. 19 from 21, the Eagles added another dangerous wide receiver (and a return man) to complement DeSean Jackson. The Eagles didn't even bother getting to know Maclin because they figured he'd be long gone, but then again, they probably should've counted on Al Davis falling in love with Darrius Heyward-Bey's 40-yard dash time.
I personally wanted the Eagles to take Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, but there's a good argument to be made for Maclin having much more of an impact. As Andy Reid admitted, the Eagles didn't feel like they had a tremendous need at wide receiver. But when a rare talent falls in your lap, you better be there to accept the gift.
"As a receiver he was the most productive receiver in the country and all around when you add special teams in there," said Reid. "You look at his hands, his ability to catch football, he didn't drop footballs. You look at his ability getting in and out of breaks. They have a vertical game that they've worked on and then quick-hitch routes that they do in their offense. He has the ability to stop and start, which is important, and the ability to get in and out of breaks, which I think is important as well. We just thought he was an all-around good player."
The Eagles could have easily panicked and taken UConn's Donald Brown, who is a nice player. But they would have been fixated on a need instead of taking the best value. The Eagles bided their time in the second round and then pounced on former Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy, who reminds a lot of folks of Westbrook. He has tremendous lateral speed, and most importantly, he is an instinctive runner. In the Eagles' offense, you can't have a player lumbering around looking for the right angle. You need someone who can find seams in a zone-blocking scheme.
McCoy has already played in a pro-style offense, so he won't have to make a huge adjustment. The Cowboys, Giants and Eagles all feature running backs who were taken in the third round or later. I never understood the belief that the Eagles had to have a running back in the first round, and apparently Reid had the same thought.
Last year, the Eagles took a chance on Jackson, a guy whom numerous teams had crossed off their lists because of character concerns. So far, Jackson has been very successul. And I think Maclin actually has the higher ceiling. The Eagles were a little slow getting out of the blocks this offseason, but they're showing a nice kick. Somewhere (perhaps Scottsdale) McNabb is smiling.