Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Who are the Eagles' X factors?
By Dan Graziano
Longtime Scouts Inc. writer Gary Horton has come up with a list of 48 players who he's calling the "X factors" in the playoffs. He picked four players from every roster who have a chance to make a significant impact in the playoffs.
Let's see who Horton came up with for the Eagles. (This is for ESPN Insiders only, but I've taken some liberties in order to produce a blog entry).
MLB Jamar Chaney: He is a rookie replacing veteran Stewart Bradley, and while he has good athletic skills, he must improve his recognition skills in the playoffs.
FS Kurt Coleman: He replaces Nate Allen in the secondary and even though he is a rookie, he is playing with range and composure and is usually in the right place.
WR Jeremy Maclin: He can work out of the slot or wide, he is an excellent red zone target, he is good on third down, and he is an underrated blocker.
TE Brent Celek: Early in the season Michael Vick concentrated on deep passes to his WRs, but Celek will be a bigger part of this offense in the playoffs.
It's a bit strange to see front-line players such as Maclin and Celek referred to as X factors, but it's true that the Eagles' tight end's numbers were down this season while playing with Vick. Celek was banged-up early in the season and had some drops. But it was in the 2008 playoffs that Celek grabbed everyone's attention and helped lead the Eagles to the NFC title game. I agree with Horton that he could emerge as a threat again in the playoffs. But for that to happen, Jason Peters might have to block someone on his own a time or two against the Green Bay Packers.
One of Horton's X factors for the Packers is cornerback Tramon Williams. I actually think Williams had a better overall season than Charles Woodson. Vick will need to be aware of Williams at all times because he does an excellent job of baiting quarterbacks into interceptions.