by Brandon Pemberton
Starting today , NFL teams will be able to re-sign their own free agents and talk to other free agents. The Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of issues at different positions they need to address, mostly on the defensive side of the ball, in my eyes. They already have a Super Bowl contender’s offense in my opinion, and while some believe picking up Plaxico Burress and or Reggie Bush are top priorites, the Eagles defense stunk last year in the red zone, they are weak at linebacker (as usual), they have one legit, healthy starter in the defensive backfield, and outside of Trent Cole, the defensive line can all go. If I were the General Manager of this team, here is what I would be thinking about and doing:
Defensive Line: It’s time to either break up the defensive tackle combination of Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson or get rid of them both. The two of them have been big disappointments since being drafted in the first round of the draft in back to back years (2005 and 2006) and I’m tired of seeing them getting blown off of the ball and never making a play in the backfield. The two of them aren’t playmakers and have no impact on this team. I said it last year and I will say it again right here: Antonio Dixon should get a chance to be a starter on this team. He has great size (6’3”, 322 lbs), is strong at the point of attack, and makes plays in the backfield. He brings a different type of game and size compared to the other two.
Also, Albert Haynesworth will most likely be available after spending a season in D.C. with the Redskins, but he also might be facing a possible suspension from the NFL after his incident in the restaurant with the waitress in which he was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault. Eagles hired defensive line coach Jim Washburn and he has gotten the best out of Albert during his career in the NFL. When playing with motivation and something to prove, Haynesworth can be the most disruptive force on the interior line in all of football. Another player that is available is DE Charles Johnson from the Carolina Panthers, who had a breakout season after Julius Peppers left for Chicago, and I also like Ray Edwards from Minnesota as well. Bottom line is the Eagles need to help Trent Cole as far as rushing the passer is concerned. Brandon Graham is coming off of a bad knee injury and most likely will not be ready for the start of the season.
Linebackers: The Eagles have refused to put any stock in having tough, hard nosed, playmakers at the linebacker position over the years and it has killed them. Ernie Sims stinks and is comparable to a stray bullet. He has no idea who and what he’s going to and suppose to hit. It was a reason why a team like the Detroit Lions were ready to let him go and it’s time for him to receive his walking papers from the Eagles. Chad Greenway might become available depending on the agreement on years concerning free agency in the CBA and he is the kind of player the Birds need at linebacker. He has the speed, size, instincts, and tenacity that the Eagles have lacked at that position for years. At middle linebacker, Jamar Chaney came on at the end of the season, starting the last two regular season games as well as the playoff game against the Packers. He showed good instincts, speed, coverage ability, and sound tackling. Played well enough that the Eagles are giving him the chance to be the starter this season.
Stewart Bradley has been injured on and off the last two seasons and even when he was healthy and on the field, he was overrated and exposed in pass coverage against tight ends and making plays in open space. Moise Fokou saw time at all three linebacker positions and made no impact while on the field. That leaves the Eagles with another weak linebacker core that needs to be upgraded. There have been talks of playing Bradley at the “Sam” Linebacker, which was the position he played in college at Nebraska.
Defensive Backs: Besides Asante Samuel at the left corner, they have question marks at the three other positions in their defensive backfield. Offenses picked on the corner opposite of Samuel at an alarming rate last season. There have been talks heating up about the Eagles trading QB Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and possibly a 2nd or 3rd round pick. This would instantly upgrade the Cornerback position and force more passes to the other side of the field. Nate Allen is coming off of a serious knee injury(ruptured right patella tendon) and was having an up and down rookie season before the injury. Quintin Mikell is a free agent, who has been exposed for the fraud he has always been as a player and it’s time for him to walk as well.
The Eagles drafted Temple safety Jaiquawan Jarrett in the second round, a selection that was a bit of a stretch in my eyes. I thought he would be available in the 3rd round or maybe fourth. While he is a big hitter and sound tackler, and is always in the right spots, he is sort of a tweener as a NFL saftey. He doesn’t have the top end speed and range to play free safety and isn’t big enough to play in the box constantly as a strong safety. The Eagles should look for help at safety from the likes of Roman Harper (Saints), Atari Bigby (Packers), or maybe Eric Weddle (Chargers).
The Eagles say they are all in and ready to win it all. If that’s the case, then fixing the defense and giving first year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo talent to work with will be key. Free agency will be moving fast, so we will see.
Brandon Pemberton of Brandon on Sports, for War Room Sports
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