Posted by Andy Benoit
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Michael Vick wrote one of the greatest bounce back stories in the history of professional sports, giving the Eagles not just football’s fastest offense, but also its most entertaining.
Turns out, the 30-year-old Vick is a pied piper to young guns Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy (all of whom took a collective step forward in 2010).
Philly’s magic began to dissipate once teams realized that this defense was not far above average and that this offense could not read complex blitzes prior to the snap.
An improved front five could put the Eagles over the top in 2011. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo has moved to the defensive coordinator role (not a typo…the offensive line coach is now the defensive coordinator).
Filling Castillo’s old spot is longtime Colts assistant Howard Mudd, whom many believe is the best line coach in the industry. Mudd will simplify everything Philly’s offensive linemen do.
Whereas before they had a handful of different pass protection methods to learn, they’ll now have just one. Expect to see major improvements right away. Mudd was a big reason the Colts were able to survive with low-drafted and undrafted blockers for so many years.
1. Outside Linebacker
Ernie Sims is a great athlete who has no idea what he’s doing half the time. Opposing offenses love spotting him in coverage. Moise Fokou has good downhill attack speed, but he’s a fringe starter at best.
It would be wise to re-sign veteran leader Quintin Mikell. But if that doesn’t happen, the Eagles will likely need a more consistent replacement strong safety than Kurt Coleman. Also, keep in mind, free safety Nate Allen tore his ACL in December.
Everyone thinks Nnamdi Asomugha would be a great fit on this team. Asomugha, however, is a man-to-man specialist. Castillo will run a zone-based scheme. The Eagles would be wise to spend the money elsewhere. And while upgrades would be nice, the Eagles don’t necessarily have to spend at this spot to begin with. As much as Dmitri Patterson struggled down the stretch, the first-time starter also looked very good at times, playing with aggression and confidence early on.
There is a lot of pressure on Michael Vick in 2011. He is being asked to lead a team that many expect to contend for a title. If he answers the challenge, he’ll almost certainly be signed to a long-term mega contract that could make most of the financial woes left over from his dogfighting retribution disappear.
If he fails, he’ll still get a big contract somewhere, but the mega contract will never come. Assuming Philly’s defense is fine (and granted, that’s not a light assumption), Vick’s performance will determine this team’s fate.
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