Use whatever adjective you’d like for the latest Eagles bomb – unexpected, numbing, depressing, enraging – but the one common factor is that the Eagles off-season has officially begun. Since the scenario of planning the 2009 NFL season probably wasn’t on your radar a day or two, it’s understandable that you may not know where to begin. So here’s a starter course of 10 things, in no particular order, that need to happen over the offseason so we can approach 2009 with even a hint of optimism:
10.) Address the tight end position in the draft: Everyone knows L.J. Smith is on his way out – and good riddance. Brent Celek may be a nice player, but more teams have begun to use two capable tight ends in their sets, and nobody is looking to Matt Schobel as a savior.
9.) Re-sign Correll Buckhalter: Yes, admittedly, the Eagles aren’t big fans of the whole “running” concept, but given Brian Westbrook’s chronically swollen knee, they need a guy who can handle the load during a game if need be. Buck runs straight and hard – a nice change of pace from Westbrook - and it’s not like the Eagles will be singing Brandon Jacobs. With Lorenzo Booker a disappointment and Tony Hunt long gone, something’s got to give.
8.) Figure out the offensive tackle situation: Sure, age is a question, but when it comes to offensive linemen, age is less a factor than effectiveness. Considering the injuries guys like Max Jean-Gilles and Shawn Andrews are coming back from, signing either Jon Runyan or Tra Thomas to a two-year deal makes the most sense, but not both.
7.) Re-sign Brian Dawkins to a two-year contract: He’s the heart and soul of your defense and he can still play at a high-enough level.
6.) Make Lito useful: Whether it was in the interest of depth or a disinterest in any potential offers, Lito’s use as a cheerleader outweighed at this point by even a second-day draft pick. And anyone thinking that a first or early second rounder is a possibility in a trade is only kidding themselves.
5.) Stop acting smarter than everyone else: Lorenzo Booker. Kris Wilson. Fullback. Sometimes the brain trust of the Eagles likes to act as though they know something nobody else does – only to have it blow up in their face and act as though it never happened at all. For once, try going with something that’s proven. For every Chris Clemons (who came on nicely at the end of the year), there are a half dozen Bookers.
4.) Fullback: Get one. A real one.
3.) Waive Greg Lewis: I’d love to say that Greg’s punt coverage kills are second-to-none, making his [lack of] receiving acceptable, but my New Year’s resolution was to cut back on lying. Lewis may be fast but his special teams play is far from amazing, making the built-in excuse to play him over Reggie Brown a non-issue. And speaking of Reggie…
2.) Determine what you want to do with Reggie Brown: Don’t waste a roster spot on a guy that clearly doesn’t seem to be in your plans, particularly if you’ve reached the point of using the “he doesn’t play special teams” argument to deactivate him. Play him or don’t, but don’t keep him (and his roster spot) in limbo. Second-round picks weren’t meant to be idle spectators on Sundays.
1.) Bring back Donovan: Say what you want but for all his frustrating points he’s the best quarterback we’ve had here in awhile and he’s not given enough credit when he does well for all of the grief he gets when he does poorly (I’m looking at you, 610 WIP callers). If you waive him or trade him, you’d better be open to accepting a few years without the playoffs in sight.