Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 Eagles Home Games

While the actual 2009 schedule won't be released for a few more weeks, we already know who the Birds will square off against next season at the Linc. On top of division foes Dallas, New York, and Washington lets take a look at who will be visiting the City of Brotherly Love next fall.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With a new coach at the helm after former Eagles offensive coordinator and long time Bucs head coach John Gruden was fired this off season, there are more questions than answers on this team. One thing is for sure the Birds defense will reek havoc with whomever is behind center for Tampa as I'm chalking this one up as a win.

New Orleans Saints: This team finished the 2008 season with two wins to even their record at 8-8. They should provide a good test for the Birds as Drew Brees is always a threat to come in and have a big game. Eagles win in a thriller.

San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary will have this team playing much better than they were before he became the head coach and are probably a year or two away from being a really good team. Fortunately for the Eagles, they will not be there yet and that should add up to another game in the win column.

Denver Broncos: The big question here will be who is behind center for Denver. I actually hope it is still Jay Cutler so the Eagles's defensive line gets to tee off on that whiner, making him wish he was somewhere else. Eagles win by two touchdowns.

Kansas City Chiefs: Another head coach with ties to the Eagles, Herm Edwards was also fired in the off season, but a change at the top will not be enough to improve this team from their dismal 2-14 record in 2008. The Eagles should be able to push this team around at the Linc, wining this game going away.

The Birds non division home games should provide five victories for the Eagles in 2009 as I think they are all teams they will be favored against and should be able to beat. If they can win two out of three division home games they should be a solid 7-1 at the Linc this year.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Eagle's Draft Update-March 27th

While most fans think it is a given that the Eagles will be looking to draft an offensive lineman with their first pick in the first round ( 21st overall) and possibly a running back with their second pick in the first round (28th overall) there is still a need at wide receiver that might be able to be addressed in round two.

The Eagles drafted WR DeSean Jackson in the second round in 2008, who made an immediate impact his rookie season. He added speed and big play ability that were lacking in the current receiving corps. In this years draft the Birds may look to the second round as an opportunity to add a receiver who has the size and strength to fill the role of “possession receiver”, complimenting Jacksons’ abilities.

The following are some of the players who they may have their eye on and should be still on the board in the second round:

Brian Robiskie; 6′3″ 199 lbs from Ohio State. He became a key figure in the Buckeye’s offense in 2008 establishing himself as a “go to” guy. He has the size and hands to make an immediate impact.

Kenny Britt; 6′4″ 214 lbs from Rutgers. He certainly has the size the Eagles have been lacking over the past few seasons and would make a great target as he is not afraid to go over the middle.

Greg Carr; 6′6′ 214 lbs from Florida State. he put up some great numbers with the Seminoles and has the size to go up get those “jump balls” in the end zone. He could be the second coming of Harold Carmichael.

These are a few other players who may work themselves into the mix, or the Eagles may look to trade up in the round which would open up a whole new array of possibilities. The bottom line is that they still need to upgrade themselves at the wide receiver position, and just like last year the second round may be the perfect time to do it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Eagle's Draft Update-March 20th

The 2009 NFL Draft scheduled for April 25th-26th is little more than a month away and the Eagles still do not seem to have a clear cut strategy for what they will do with their two picks in the first round at #21 and #28. Even if they did, we won’t know for sure until they are “on the clock” as Andy Reid and the rest of the front office staff are always going to play their cards close to the vest as everything is subject to change in this game.

The other day I noticed a fan poll on , the Birds official Home Page. The question posed was what position will the Eagles draft with their first pick. The results were as follows: Offensive Lineman- 28.8% Running Back-26.4% Wide Receiver- 15.1% Tight End- 8.3% and the most telling response “I have no clue”- 21.4% .

There are definite needs at all these positions, but the question will come down to who is the best available player at one of these positions when it is the Eagles turn to pick. I still would not rule out trading down unless there is someone they have locked into, as the Birds have been known to move out of the first round in the past. The fact that they have two picks in the first round makes all this even more interesting. They have a great opportunity to fill two holes right away, as they will be looking to draft a starter at left tackle and possibly tight end. However, if there is a running back or wide receiver that fits their scheme they may go in that direction.

Hang tight as we are still a long way from draft day, and right now we simply have many more questions than answers, but that is what makes all this speculation fun

Why the Eagles should Draft a Running Back with their First Pick

As the 2009 NFL college draft is right around the corner there has been a lot of conversation about what the Eagles should do with their two first round picks. There are some definite areas of need that have to be addressed most noteably offensive tackle, tight end, and running back. While conventional wisdom has me believing they will draft an offensive tackle with their first pick to replace the loss of Tra Thomas, there are some quality players available at running back which could be even a more important need fill.

Everyone agrees that Brian Westbrook is one of the top offensive weapons in the league and can alter the outcome of a game with one play. Anytime you have a player that demands that much attention from the opposing defense, it is bound to open up other opportunities for the entire offense. The fact remains though, he is turning 30 this year and is coming off the most injury ridden season of his career. Now that he has the long term contract he was looking for, it is time to take some of the burden off his shoulders to help extend his career. Looking at their current roster, Correll Buckhalter is gone and Lorenzo Booker has not proven to be the answer.

Taking a look at who might be available when the Eagles pick 21st in the first round, three running backs come to mind. Chris Wells from Ohio State, Knowshon Moreno from Georgia, and Donald Brown from Connecticut. Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has the Birds taking Brown with the this pick and his counter part Todd McShay has them picking Moreno. I like Wells because of his size. At 6′1″ , 235 lbs he could be the inside power back to compliment Westbook’s outside speed. This potent combination could take the pressure off of McNabb and the passing game creating a true balanced attack that would give defensive coordinators head fits. Andy Reid would have to be willing to alter his “pass first and often” mentality, but we all saw how well this offensive performed when the pass/run ratio was better balanced.

Having the luxury of two picks in the first round could allow them to acquire both a top notch offensive lineman and explosive running back, filling two of their primary offensive needs. It should be interesting to see the direction they decide to take come draft day

Eagle's Draft Update- March 12th

With the NFL college draft less than a month away, it is time to begin a serious discusion on who the Eagles are looking at with the 21st and 28th picks in the first round. In light of some free agent departures the first three need positions that come to mind are offensive tackle, tight end and running back. The following are some names circulating around the various mock draft boards that are out there.

Eben Briton, OT from Arizona. At 6′6″ 309 lbs he fits the profile the Eagles look for in an o lineman

Branden Pettigrew,TE from Oklahoma St. He is ranked as the top tight end in the draft and could be a long term solution in case Brent Celek isn’t the answer.

Chris Wells, RB from Ohio State. At 6′1″ 235 lbs he could fill the void left by Correll Buckhalter and supply a power option to Brian Westbrook’s speed. It could also help to extend Westbrook’s career by taking some of the weight off his shoulders.

There are a few other names flying around out there but the general thought is that the Birds will look to fill one or two of these positions with these first two picks. Another player whose name is being thrown around is WR Darrius Heyward-Bey from Maryland, although I do not think he will be still on the board by the Eagles first pick.

As with anything the Eagles do, this is all subject to change, so tune in next week for another update.

NFL Commissioner Recomends Expanding the Regular Season

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell wants to explore the idea of expanding the current 16 game regular season to 17 or 18 games possibly as early as the 2010 season. The current preseason consists of teams playing 4 to 5 basically meaningless games that only the most fanatical of fans has any interest in. The new plan would eliminate 1 or 2 of these games and add them to the regular season.

Before any talk of expanding the regular season, the league needs to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union which is slated to expire after the 2010 season. Any changes would have to be a part of a new agreement so it remains to be seen how quickly they can get something done.

As for the owners, a longer season would mean additional revenue from their advertising partners so there should be little resistance from that end. For season ticket holders who currently have to buy tickets to all the preseason games as part of the ticket package, trading these for extra regular season games would be a no brainer. For the regular fan, who wouldn’t want a longer football season?

The main problem with expanding the regular season would be the risk of increased injuries to players. The league can change all the rules they want to try and reduce the number of serious injuries, but playing more games means more chances for someone to get hurt. I am sure this issue will be addressed by the players’ union during any upcoming negotiations with the league owners. One possible idea would be to expand a team’s roster from its current 53 to possibly 60-65 players to allow for more player rotation, helping to cut down on some wear and tear a longer season would bring. There are also some scheduling issues that need to be worked through, but these do not seem to present a major problem to extending the season.

Hopefully all sides involved can come together to get this thing done as everyone agrees the current preseason is too long and does nothing to build fan interest.

An Eagle's Crystal Ball

We are getting to the point in the off season where Eagle fans are looking for something big to happen either with the free agency, the draft, or a trade. With the first big wave of free agents already signed I find myself closely examining the rest of the team’s available free agents to see who might be still out there that would be a great addition for the Birds. Another exercise is dialing into all the experts “mock drafts” to try and predict who the Eagles might select with their two picks in the first round as well as all the rounds to follow. I’m constantly tuning into ESPN’s Sportscenter or the NFL Network to get the latest trade rumors that might involve some big name player ending up in Philadelphia.

This is a great time of year to have a crystal ball so we can skip all the anticipation and begin to finalize the roster going into training camp. I am going to play genie and give you a few of my predictions(wishes) for the Eagles next moves.

As far as free agency, I do not see any big names out there headed to the Birds. The latest name to keep circulating is Leonard Weaver, a full back from Seattle. If they can sign him, that would be a plus sinse this position was a glaring problem last season in short yardage situations. Not having an experienced lead blocker for Westbrook actually cost them the Chicago game. Other than that I do not see any other big moves with free agency as the Eagles will concentrate on the draft to fill the rest of the holes.

Speaking of the the draft, they will stay strict to form and draft a offensive tackle with the 21st pick. I’m thinking Eben Britton from Arizona or Michael Oher from Ole Miss. This is a hole that needs to be plugged and either one of these guys would fit the bill. The second pick at 28 isn’t as clear. While they need a running back and a tight end, I see a possible trade out of this pick to with the intent of filling these needs in the remaining rounds.

As far as trades, I will put the Anquan Boldin rumor to rest, he will be a bird but not an Eagle. I see him staying in Arizona now that Warner’s contract is set. The only other trades on the horizon will be on draft day as Philly will try and jockey for position to try and find some diamonds in the rough. They have always looked to youth to build this team and with as many picks as they have this year, this draft will be a perfect opportunity to do this

T.O. Lands in Buffalo after being Cut by Dallas

One time Eagle Terrell Owens signed a one year deal with the Buffalo Bills after being released by the Dallas Cowboys two days ago. Owens, who wore out his welcome first in San Francisco, then Philadelphia, and most recently in Dallas brings his incredible, but diminished talent to a team struggling to regain the prominence it once held in the AFC East.

This is actually a smart move on Buffalo’s part. New England and possibly Miami may have taken a shot at signing him, so they beat them to the punch. He can still be productive and will give Bills quarterback Trent Edwards a legitimate big play receiver to throw to. The smartest part of the move is only signing him to a one year deal. This is where his past three teams made a mistake, thinking he could provide more than one season before his selfish behavior drove a wedge right down the middle of their team.

My prediction is that T.O will have a Pro Bowl year because they will throw to him thirty times a game. There are no Super Bowl aspirations for Buffalo, so it can be all about him. Unfortunately, the Bills will be tricked into thinking the same thing that T.O.’s past teams did, that he has changed his ways and is now a team player. My advice to the Bills is to enjoy your year with T.O. as he will definately help you make some noise in the AFC East, but do yourself a favor and send him packing as soon as the whistle blows on your final game.

From Todays Rumor Mill

This morning on ESPN’s Mike and Mike morning show, John Clayton added some fuel to rumor fire by suggesting the Eagles are trying to sign free agent left tackle, Jason Peters who last played for Buffalo as well as were still interested in trying to sign Anquan Boldin the free agent wide receiver from Arizona.

Granted, if both these deals were to go through the Eagles would have added two major weapons that Donovan McNabb has hinted he is looking for. Peters would protect his blindside, filling the void left by losing Tra Thomas to Jacksonville and Boldin would be paired with DeSean Jackson creating a suddenly dangerous combination of receivers to throw the ball to.

Remember, these are just ramblings from the rumor mill, but fun to think about none the less. Stay tuned for possible future developments….

Fullback Leonard Weaver Signs a One Year Deal with the Eagles

Leonard Weaver, a fullback formally with the Seattle Seahawks has just signed a one year deal with Eagles that could be worth as much as 2.5 million. It has a reported 1.75 million base as well as incentives. Weaver was with the Seahawks since 2005 after being signed as an undrafted free agent. While he was supposedly offered more money to sign with Minnesota, he chose to come to Philadelphia citing a better fit with their offensive scheme.

At 6′ 0′ and 242 lbs, Weaver should provide the much needed lead blocking on short yardage situations that became a glaring weakness in several games last season. On top of his run blocking skills he has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as be effective running the ball up the middle. It remains to be seen how much Andy Reid will work him into the offensive scheme, but adding Weaver is a definite upgrade at the fullback position.

This move fits the mold of how the Eagles approach free agency. They look for quality players that can come in and fill an immediate need. Does this move pave the way for the Birds to take a running back in the first round of the upcoming draft? Adding a power back to compliment Brian Westbrook’s explosive speed along with now having a big lead blocking fullback in Weaver could elevate the Bird’s overall running game. This balance would help to take the pressure off McNabb and the pass happy Eagle’s offense.

L.J. Smith Signs a Three Year Deal with the Ravens

It appears that former Eagle tight end L.J. Smith is close to signing a one year deal worth $1.5 million with the Baltimore Ravens. Smith is a six year veteran who was a second round draft pick by the Birds in 2003. He best seasons as a pro were in 2005 and 2006 when he caught a combined 111 passes. In the 2006 season he recorded 50 catches and 5 touchdowns. His production dropped off dramatically as injuries took their toll over the next two seasons. With the emergence of Brent Celek this past season the Eagles made no real effort to resign Smith during this off season.

L.J. Smith had all the potential to become one of the leagues top tight ends as he showed flashes of greatness in his early years in Philly. While a good all around tight end, his sporadic play kept him from being considered as one of the best in the league. Another problem were the injuries that plagued him off and on over the past few seasons as an Eagle. This past season he suffered a concussion in the Atlanta game that he never seemed to fully recover from, contributing very little the second half of the season. The Eagles will most likely look to draft a tight end in April to replace Smith’s roster spot and compete for the starting job with Celek.

Eagles Add Some Depth at Safety

The Eagles have just signed Rashad Baker a free agent safety most recently with the Oakland Raiders to add some depth to their defensive backfield. After signing Sean Jones as a potential replacement for starter, Brian Dawkins this move is seen as adding some depth and fill the void after losing another safety, Sean Considine to Jacksonville.

Baker, a six year veteran who was originally signed by Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in 2004 also played in New England and Minnesota before joining the Raiders in 2007. Last season he recorded 3 interceptions including one against Tampa Bay in the final game of the season. That Tampa loss is what helped vault the Eagles into the playoffs, along with the victory over Dallas at home.

He gets a chance to play closer to home as he is from Camden, NJ. He reportedly signed a one year deal and the terms were not released

Tra Thomas Signs a Three Year Deal with Jacksonville

After anchoring the left side of the Eagle’s offensive line for eleven seasons, three time Pro Bowl tackle Tra Thomas signed a three year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This development should come at no real surprise to Eagle fans as the team made little effort to resigned Thomas after his contract expired at the end of this season.

Given their past stance on ageing veterans, the Eagles held true to form in the case of Thomas. While according to Thomas himself, he plans to try and play for twenty seasons as he is still in great shape and “has several years left in the tank.” Eagle management obviously did not see things the same way as once again a player’s worth was determined to be less than their value. They expressed interest in re-signing him but part of the situation also involves Thomas’ desire to play with a team closer to his home in Deland, Florida.

One thing Thomas brings to the table is durability having started 165 games in his career with the Birds, missing only eight games over the span of his eleven seasons in Philly. Jaguar’s General Manager, Gene Smith summed the situation up as follows “Tra has been a part of a lot of winning in Philadelphia, he’s been durable, he’s a three-time Pro Bowl player and he is a solid, experienced veteran and a good presence in the locker room,” Smith said. “We have talked about character being important, and this is in line with that philosophy.”

Eagles Sign Sean Jones(Dawk Lite) to a One Year Deal

The Eagles signed Sean Jones, a saftey with the Cleveland Browns to a one year deal. This move was made to bolster their defense after loosing long time veteran and future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins to free agency. Jones, who played for five seasons for the Browns brings some needed experience to the defensive backfield after Dawkins departure. One of his most impressive statistics is ranking third in interceptions by a safety since 2006 with 14.

Dawkin’s departure has left some mighty big shoes to fill, and somehow I think Jone’s feet are a bit small. Yes, this is a good acquisition, but do not fool yourself into thinking that the Eagles have filled the huge void that has been created not having number 20 in your line up. I am more excited in the potential Quintin Demps has shown to be the next great free safety for the Birds. He will never bring the intensity and leadership that Dawkins provided for 13 seasons, but he is fundamentally solid and obviously has had a chance to learn from one of the best.

The bottom line is that Jones will contribute and make some big plays for the Birds next season, but please do not classify him as Dawkin’s replacement. Some players just cannot be replaced

Andy Reid "State of the Union" Interview

In a recent interview with Eagle’s Insider Dave Spadaro, head coach Andy Reid provided some insight into the off season issues his team has faced. From the departure of Brian Dawkins to his relationship with Donovan McNabb, Reid handled the various questions in his typical candid fashion. He has the uncanny ability to give you an answer without really telling anything you didn’t already know. He tows the company line and gives little insight into his true feelings. He has become a master of stating the obvious, while safeguarding anything that may stir up a controversy.

In the case of Brian Dawkins it all came down to one thing, a players worth and what are you willing to pay for it. I honestly believe this was an extremely difficult decision, but one that was consistent with the team’s philosophy of going with youth over experience once a veteran player’s skills start to drop off. My takeaways were you simply cannot pay Dawkins a ton of money to be a cheerleader and some of the other players on this team need to step up. This was a pure business decision and probably the correct one.

On free agency, once again the Eagles have stayed true to form looking for spot players to fill some gaps. They have never relied on free agency to build this team. In the words of Andy Reid “Because you have the money, you just don’t go blow it on something that you don’t think is good enough quality to put on the Eagles uniform.” I believe this is well stated and the proper path to follow. Philadelphia has always looked to bring in quality players who can help the team win, not put fans in the seats.

In the case of Donovan McNabb, I believe they have come to an understanding and both realize that #5 gives the Eagles their best chance to win over the next few seasons. A new deal is in the works and I wouldn’t be surprised if something doesn’t get done in the next couple of months. These two are closer than you think , you will never see that because neither side will let you in on their true relationship.

While they discussed some other topics the general tone remains the same. Reid is confident they will field a competitive team that will compete for a Championship. While he is reluctant to give you more than a superficial over view of the current Eagle’s State of the Union” you know deep down inside the passion to win still burns. After all, isn’t that what it is really all about?

Why Donovan McNabb Needs a Super Bowl Ring

In the NFL quarterbacks are measured by their rating, overall stats, and winning percentage. The great quarterbacks are often rated by Super Bowl victories. My apologies to Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, but when fans talk about great quarterbacks they immediately think of Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, and Tom Brady. Why? Because they have all won multiple Super Bowls. John Elway’s career had all the necessary statistics for greatness, but he wasn’t ordained until winning the Super Bowl. Even quarterbacks like Brett Favre, who have only won one, have achieved greatness in their careers.

This fact will never be more true than in the case of Donovan McNabb. Despite having play for ten solid seasons in which his team reached five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, his legacy still hangs in the balance. He plays in a town with the harshest critics in the world and has had controversy surround his career since the day he was drafted. He has Hall of Fame credentials, yet most analysts do not see him as a future Hall of Famer. He will certainly go down as the greatest Eagles quarteback ever, unless someone in the future can put up better numbers than his. But the unfortunate bottom line to his career will be whether or not he ever wins the big one.

As a fan, I would love to see him finish his career as an Eagle. Given the nature of this game, that is probably very unlikely. Most of the great ones end up trying to squeeze an extra season or two with another team at the end of their careers, just ask Brett Favre. McNabb is no where near the end of his career, just ask Kurt Warner, and easily has four or five seasons left in him. Despite all the typical Philly critics, everything is in place for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl in the next few years. Sure, we need a few players here and there, but the core group is solid and you have a franchise quarterback who can lead you there. The question remains, does Donovan want to risk his legacy trying to win one as an Eagle or does he believe he has a better chance with a fresh start on a new team? Only time will tell the answer to that one.

Footbal is Still a Business

I’m sure like most true Eagle’s fans you were not happy to hear the news that Brian Dawkins, a thirteen year veteran and the emotional leader of this team, signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos. I’m not happy about it either, but I would be lying if I said I was surprised. You have to remember that the team’s best interest always comes first, not the players and this is the unfortunate business side of sports.

A player’s value is rarely based on what have they done for the team in the past, rather it is based on what can they contribute in the future. In the case of Dawkins they Eagles offered him what they thought to be his value over the next few seasons to their defense and their team. Denver obviously thought his value was a couple of millions dollars higher for their defense and their team. As a player, you have to take the money when you can as with every year that goes by your value continues to drop. All of these are business decisions, plain and simple.

I think deep down, both sides, player and team know this to be true. Football is still an emotional sport, so emotions will rise to the top in many of these situations and hard feelings between a player and his ex team get blown out of proportion. We as fans hate seeing our favorite players in a different uniform, especially someone as special as Brian Dawkins. However, come September when whom ever is playing Free Safety for the Eagles makes a big play we will cheer like crazy and probably turn to the person next to and say, “I’m not sure Dawk could have still made that play.”

An Open Letter to all True Eagles Fans

Welcome to EaglesLinc, a blog that will follow our Beloved Birds from the prospective of a life long, die hard, fly Eagles fly, 700 level knuckle head fan of which I am.

Having grown up with a father who was the ultimate Eagles fan, from a very early age this mentality was drilled into not only my head, but my heart. He became a season ticket holder in 1961 and up until 2002 missed about five home games. From about the time I was ten, I to went to just about every home game until leaving for college. We would arrive two hours early and never leave a game until the final tick of the clock. It didn’t matter how bad they were losing or what the weather was, that rule was never and I do repeat never broken.

No matter how bad the team was we remained optimistic for a win. No matter how good the team was, we always had to fight that fear in our hearts that some how they would blow it. All in all , along with the thousands of other true Eagles fans we were never bashfull to show our true emotions for what was going on during the game as well as the heated debates of what went right or wrong after the game.

Through this blog, I am looking to identify with the true Eagles fan. They are the only fans in the in the world who have the uncanny ability to yell, scream, cheer, and boo all during the same play. We are a resilient bunch who can after getting kicked in the stomach, get up and ask for another one. We do love our Birds, despite their ability to rip our hearts out. I think that is because we know, deep down they are as passionate about winning as we are. We know better to never count them out as just when you think all hope is lost, they find a way to win. Players will come and go, but the bond between fan and team remains constant.

Join me on following the Eagles and their quest for ultimate Super Bowl glory. I know they say “close only counts in horse shoes, hand gernades, and Eagles football”, but could 2009 be that magical year it finally all comes together? Only a true Eagles fan believes that and if your reading this, welcome to the club.

About This Blog

EaglesLinc aims to provide up to date reports and insights on the Philadelphia Eagles from the viewpoint of a life long, die hard, fly eagles fly, 700 level knuckle head fan. Having been one of these fans my whole life and growing up in Philadelphia with a family of the same mentality, my goal is to identify with the true Eagles fan.

Having gone to many a home game, everything the outside world says about us is true. We did boo Santa Claus, because he deserved it. We did boo a newly married couple, because the bride was fat. We did throw snowballs at Jimmy Johnson because he was too easy of a target. I also witnessed things that I would rather share at this point in time. That being said, Eagle fans are the most passionate and loyal fans in the world. Having been through so much disappointment and so little glory we are a resilient bunch, coming back year after year to cheer on our Beloved Birds.

Please join me on my journey to follow the Eagles as they start another quest for Super Bowl glory. From free agency, the draft, mini camps, into Lehigh for training camp, right up to the opening kick off and through out the entire season I hope to provide some facts and some insights that only a true Eagle's fan can appreciate.