NFC East: Tom Melvin
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
LAKE HIGHLANDS, Texas -- Greetings from one of the NFL's most talent-rich neighborhoods. Out my office window, I can see Wildcat-Ram Stadium, where Merton Hanks, Matt Stover, Phil Dawson, Marcus Coleman and the immortal Marcus Stiggers once played. So what does that have to do with the NFC East? Pretty much nothing, so let's get right to your questions. I've been long-winded the last couple of weeks (2,500-word average), so we're going rapid-fire today.
We start with Matt from Wilmington: First off, great article on the Birds additions this offseason. My question is with the Eagles $24 million under the cap, do you see them pursuing any other free agents? It seems they still could use a blocking tight end. The way our defensive line rotates, we could even use an additional pass-rushing defensive end to help out Trent Cole. What are your thoughts?
Mosley: I think Eagles fans are getting greedy -- and there's nothing wrong with that. You have three pretty decent options at tight end right now, but it wouldn't hurt to have another big body. If something comes along, Eagles tight ends coach Tom Melvin and the personnel staff will probably make a move. But that would be more of a luxury. It's not like the Eagles are going to come out this year with a bunch of double tight end looks. I think it's more likely that Philadelphia might try to sign defensive end Greg Ellis once he's released from the Cowboys. He's 33, but he could still be productive as a pass-rushing specialist. He still wants to be a starter, but if you dangle $1 million out there in addition to the $1.5 million check Jerry Jones will owe him, you might be onto something. Ellis would also be a good fit for the Redskins, but as Matt pointed out, the Eagles are in better position to do something.
Tsbein is one of our regulars in the "comments" section. And yes, I do read them: Eli has been "plagued," and I say that sarcastically, by his good team. He has the RBs, the O-line, the defense and had a top WR. Even Fran Tarkenton slighted Eli while trying to bash Favre. Since there are no stars as WRs, do you think a big year from Eli could garner him some nationwide respect?
Mosley: Tsbein, the second part of your question was quite astute, but we have a strict 300-word limit on questions in the mailbag! But seriously, I think it's ridiculous that Eli Manning still has so many doubters. He was one of my MVP candidates heading into December last season. I think the loss of Burress certainly hurt his production, but the defensive breakdowns had more to do with the team's "collapse" than anything else. Manning led his team to a world title in 2007. I'll never forget that when analyzing his career. And unlike some critics, I don't try to poke holes in that late-season run. He struggled down the stretch in '08, but overall, he had another excellent season. I have immense respect for Fran Tarkenton's career, but there's one thing missing that Eli already has. But in all honestly, Tarkenton's work on "That's Incredible" probably made up for not having a Lombardi.
We've gone two whole questions without something on the Cowboys. What gives? MBFJTCO9 rescues us with this: Howdy Matt. The Cowboys really haven't done a lot this offseason. How do you think their special teams are going to be this year. With Folk having surgery and us drafting a kicker, who will win that battle? And do you think a healthy Mat McBrair will help at all? Teams just seemed to have better field position when we lost him. That guy has got a boot on him.
Mosley: The great McBriar spends at least an hour each day on the Beast blog, so it's nice of you to mention his name. He's a Pro Bowl punter who is poised to have a huge comeback season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him average about 45 yards per punt with a ridiculous net in '09. He's headed out today to meet fellow Australian Geoff Ogilvy at the Crowne Plaza Colonial golf tournament. And don't worry about Nick Folk. There's no competition taking place in training camp. David Buehler will be a kickoff specialist. He'll only win the kicking job if Folk's not able to recover from hip surgery.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Former Cowboys defensive coordinator Brian Stewart will soon join the Eagles' coaching staff, according to the sports blog of WFAA-TV in Dallas. Stewart was the defensive coordinator under Wade Phillips when the Cowboys went 13-3 in 2007, but he was stripped of his play-calling duties midway through the '08 season. Phillips fired Stewart a few days after the team's humiliating 44-6 loss to the Eagles.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid and Stewart have remained close since they were at Northern Arizona together in the mid-1980s. Reid coached the offensive line and Stewart played cornerback. Both men grew up in Los Angeles and spent time at junior colleges in the area.
With defensive coordinator Jim Johnson taking a leave of absence as he receives treatment for cancer, secondary coach Sean McDermott has assumed his duties. Stewart's role hasn't been officially announced, but it's likely he'll coach the secondary. That was his expertise on Marty Schottenheimer's staff in San Diego before he followed Phillips to Dallas in 2007.
Reid obviously has a huge comfort level with Stewart, but it doesn't hurt that he'll get to pick his brain on the Cowboys' 3-4 defense twice a season. Stewart was set to join former Vikings and Cardinals head coach Dennis Green with the San Francisco representative in the United Football League, but he'll now remain in the NFL.
Somewhat interesting sidenote: Eagles tight end coach Tom Melvin, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, former offensive coordinator Brad Childress and Reid all spent time on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks' coaching staff.