The Eagles Finalize Their Roster

Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb

Every year during the finalization of the Eagles roster, I always have my doubts about Andy Reid’s decisions.  Last year, I was concerned that cutting Jerome McDougle would come back to haunt the Eagles, luckily it didn’t.  A few years back I was upset the Eagles cut Jon Ritchie in favor of Josh Parry.  In fact, 2 years ago I remember ranting about the lack of kick and punt returners on the roster.  While I can criticize Reid for a certain lack of roster flexibility or lack of talent in certain areas, things usually work out well for the Eagles in the end.  This year is no different, but I anxiously wait to see how it all plays out.

The Eagles kept the standard 10 offensive linemen, annoying to me that we can’t just go with 8, but I assume once Todd Herremans recovers from his injury and Shawn Andrews proves he can play, the Eagles might reduce their offensive linemen footprint.  An even further wrinkle is that Jon Runyan worked out for the Eagles today.  Who knows what will come of that.  Reid only kept two tight ends this year, claiming that he only had two active per game last year.  I see the logic in that philosophy if you have the ability to have a linemen work into the goal line package as a third tight end.  The Eagles did that with Todd Herremans last year and we might see that again with Herremans or another lineman.  They have plenty.  The seven wide receivers on the roster weren’t so much a surprise because of the personnel, but a surprise that they were able to skimp in other areas to keep seven.  Obviously, Brandon Gibson was too good to cut and they kept the depth of Baskett and Brown is case Curtis or another receiver would be injured.  Still, I see the Eagles cutting or trading a receiver when Michael Vick has to come off the exempt list.  The Eagles kept McNabb, Kolb and Vick as their QB’s – no surprise.  Running back and full back were also pretty standard.  I am glad to see Lorenzo Booker go and with the surprise special teams play of Eldra Buckley, it doesn’t really matter.  Also, for the first time since I can remember, the addition of Leonard Weaver gives the Eagles a real blocking back for Brian Westbrook and a strong runner on short yardage.  The offense looks good in terms of personnel, let’s hope they can put it together and score some points.  

Ten defensive linemen made the squad this year, heavy on the ends.  I assume the Eagles will play some of their bigger ends at the tackle spot during passing downs.  Trent Cole looked strong in the pre-season and if another end, maybe Juqua Parker or Victor Abiamiri, could take some pressure off of Cole, he should have an excellent year.  Bunkley and Patterson look like solid mainstays at tackle.  They both have been consistent and look great.  Hopefully, they will be solid against the run, because I worry about the linebacking.  The Eagles were hopeless at linebacker when Stewart Bradley went down with an injury.  Omar Gaither will play the middle – he played there before- with Akeem Jordan and Chris Cocong at his sides.  I am not sold on this linebacking tandem.  The back-ups are primarily special teamers and 1st and 2nd year guys.  Joe Mays will be ok as a back-up, but the other two are unproven.  The secondary at cornerback is solid, all the way through the 5th corner.  Safety is a little sketchy, especially since Quintin Demps lost his starting spot.  It was his spot to lose and he lost out to impressive rookie Macho Harris.  The specialists are the same as they have been the last three years.  The only comment I have is that it is disappointing the Eagles don’t have a long snapper that can double in another position.  For years, Mike Bartrum was the long snapper and 3rd tight end.  Jon Dorenbos is a great snapper, but provides little else and takes up a roster spot.

I like this Eagles team; they have plenty of talent and should win plenty of games.  Of course, the lingering questions are the Eagles linebackers, the rookie playing free safety and the cohesion and health of the offensive line.  The Eagles will mask the linebacking inexperience, but the offensive line could make or break the season.  The wildcard, as usual, is does Coach Reid prepare his team for the start of the season?   I doubt it, I sense some fan frustration early on with Reid until he gets the team together.  Let’s hope the team comes together sooner, rather than later.

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