The big story this off-season for the Eagles has been their additions to the defensive side of the ball. That’s rightfully so since that was their biggest area of weakness last year.
However, I’m feeling a little pumped up today so I wanted to talk about the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles are juggernauts in this area! They have significant weapons at every skill position and are capable of making the score board flash enough to cause epileptic seizures!
In 2010 the Eagles were the NFL’s 2nd ranked offense when they averaged 389.4 yards of offense and 27.4 points per game. And the best part is, there is no reason to think they won’t at least match that in 2011.
First, we have Michael Vick. He burst onto the scene last season and gave the Eagles offense a dynamic we haven’t seen since the early Donovan McNabb years. However, this is even better because unlike McNabb, Vick has legitimate weapons with which to work.
In mainly 12 games last season, Vick put up 3,018 yards passing and 21 TDs. He added another 676 yards and 9 TDs rushing. That is simply outstanding production.
Now Vick has an entire training camp and preseason to prepare for 2011 as the unquestioned starter. I fully expect big things from him this year in terms of his progression as a QB and his productivity.
The key for him will be staying healthy. That means being smarter with the football and not carelessly putting himself in harms way by needlessly running with the ball. This is the main area of his game I’ll be looking for improvement: better decision making.
Next up we have the ever explosive DeSean Jackson. He is a dual threat at both wide receiver as well as punt returner.
Last year he posted 47 catches for 1,056 yards and six TDs. He also scored on an electrifying punt return against the Giants and on an end-around play. He’s a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball from anywhere on the field.
He runs at speeds so fast it makes everyone else look like they’re jogging. The deep threat he provides constantly opens up the middle of the field for other players to cash in on open opportunities.
His presence makes the entire offense better and makes defenses account for his whereabouts on every play. The Eagles better pony up and pay this man!
Then to complete the “big 3″ we have RB LeSean McCoy. In just his 2nd season last year, he made Eagles fans all but forget about Brian Westbrook (not a slight to Westy though).
In 2010, McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards on just 207 attempts (5.2 yards per carry) and scored seven TDs. He also tacked on a whopping 78 receptions for another 592 yards and two TDs.
With stats like those, it’s easy to see why McCoy will likely be a top 10 pick in fantasy football drafts this year, particularly in PPR (points per reception) leagues.
Another equally important aspect of his game also improved last year. McCoy worked hard between his first and second year to improve his blocking. Blitz pickup is a highly underrated responsibility for Eagle running backs.
McCoy has shown he can do it all. He can run effectively between the tackles, has shown toughness, he can break it outside, he is a serious receiving threat, and a good pass blocker.
Many great offensive teams have/had the big trifecta; QB, WR, and RB. McCoy rounds out just that for the Eagles.
After the Eagles’ big 3, they then have the player tagged with having the best hands on the team: WR Jason Avant.
Avant is the Eagles’ third receiver and slot man. He has routinely been Mr. Clutch on third down plays throughout his career. Out of 52 career catches on third down, Avant has come up with a first down on 45 of them.
That’s an 86.3 career first down percentage!
Last season Avant chipped in with 51 receptions for 573 yards and one TD. He is not the exciting playmaker like Jackson but he is exactly what every offense needs, a reliable possession receiver that knows how to get open and make the clutch catch.
The Eagles also have a weapon at tight end in Brent Celek. In 2009 he posted 76 catches for 971 yards and eight TDs. Those are excellent numbers for a tight end.
However, his stats were significantly down last season as he was asked to block much more of the time. He also might have had some chemistry problems in adjusting to two different QBs in Vick and Kolb.
Don’t let a down year in 2010 fool you though. Celek is still a legitimate tight end and a player to watch closely in 2011. With an improved offensive line he shouldn’t be asked to block as much which will lead to more opportunities in the passing game.
I look for him to be a huge part in the Eagles’ red zone offense this season, an area where improvement is much needed.
By now perhaps you’ve noticed that I have left Jeremy Maclin off this list. He would certainly be on it if everything was normal. His uncertain status these days has me questioning how much he’ll play in 2011.
I hope he’ll play a full season because when healthy, Maclin is the perfect compliment to DeSean Jackson and gives the Eagles a deadly one-two punch at the wide receiver position.
Maclin is most definitely a “weapon” in this offense but unless he’s on the field it won’t matter.
Should he have difficulty playing this season, I would expect to be writing about Riley Cooper as another weapon in this offense as well. He’s the Eagles “big receiver” and should develop nicely from year one to year two.
Cooper is a “weapon in the making”.
*Note: While writing this article a report came out via CSNPhilly.com stating that Maclin’s brother says Jeremy “is fine” and an announcement is expected Tuesday.
My take: This is great news if true! Maclin’s health and his life outside the game are the most important things but this is a relief in more ways than one.
However, I’ll wait for the “official” update tomorrow (I want to hear it from the horse’s mouth so-to speak).