Monday, August 01, 2011

The Eagle has landed

I touched on the magic movings of Andy Reid the other day, but since then he and the Eagles have been waving the free agency wand in earnest and the end result is already being referred to (perhaps a little presumptuously) as the "Dream Team". Now eventually this week I want to go through all the free agent signings and moves that have caught my eye, but for now I just want to zero in on the Eagles.

-- Nnamdi Asomugha
I couldn't help but laugh when I first found out about this. At the time the battle was supposedly between the Jets and the Texans and then I think it switched to the Jets and someone else whose name escapes me and it was being hailed in the press as a dead cert battle between those two teams. In the end all those dead cert bets failed to come in as the Eagles swooped (see what I did there?).

Honestly I'm a little at two minds about this. I'm one of those cynical bastards that believes the concept of "shut down corners" in the NFL is vastly over rated. If there's one thing I've noticed more than anything in the league, it's that most interceptions seem to be highly dependent on poor throws by quarterbacks. I would say in less than 25% of cases do interceptions seem to result from just a genuine great play by a defender.

So I'm a little sceptical how much of an impact Nnamdi will provide.  He's a good corner and he plays the run quite well, but notions that all of sudden it will prove impossible to pass on the Eagles look wildly optimistic to me. Still, broadly speaking the Eagles have upgraded.

-- Jason Babin
Now that's a sneaky little deal right there. If the Eagles were in a keen need of anything this off season then it was a more consistent pass rush. Babin should provide that. Last season was only the second time in his career that he started in a full 16 games, and he notched up 12.5 sacks in the process. You could accuse the Eagles of over paying for a one hit wonder but at just $5 million (roughly) for the coming season, and given the normal price for pass rushers, that's just a steal. No two ways about it.

-- Cullen Jenkins
I was wondering if the Eagles could top the two above. Then I read about Cullen Jenkins. He played 11 games last year, starting just 8. In that time he was able to clock 7 sacks and 5 assists. His production levels have been good throughout his career and to be frank, Jenkins could have been paid a lot more and still clocked in as being something of a bargain.

The Eagles needed help up the middle and Jenkins is it. He didn't get anywhere near the credit he deserved playing in Green Bay, largely due to the overall quality of that defensive group. But now Jenkins has the chance to show how much of an impact he can really make. Considering this will entail a shift from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, where he will have more freedom to get into the backfield and get after the quarterback, it might be a good idea to back Jenkins for an increase in his sack tally.

-- Vince Young
This, bizarrely, is the one I'm most impressed with. It is a master stroke. If you can't already see the cycle repeating itself, then perhaps you need to pay more attention. Think about what Young is, what he represents. A talented college quarterback with lots of potential to do big things in the NFL. He can throw and he can run; boy can he run! But for a variety of reasons his talent has thus far not fully born fruit, despite the success that he has had with the Titans.

Now he finds himself on the bottom rung, taking a huge pay cut to come and play for the current beacon of hope, opportunity and redemption in the NFL, Andy Reid. Cue a season spent working hard, competing, learning etc. Maybe he'll get the chance to hit the field now and again, especially if the "dream team" lives up to the hype and rips great chunks out of people early on in games.

So they sign him to a better deal at some point this year and then start shopping him around. Eventually someone will bite; physically gifted, now seemingly more mature and experienced under Reids direction, and so on and so forth. Thus in return for a few million dollars and a bit of time and patience, Reid will end up crafting either a second round pick plus something lower, or a trade for a player he badly needs. It's pure genius.

Of course building teams has never been Andy Reids problem. It's been getting them to win big games on a consistent basis and finally take the Eagles to the promised land that has been his trouble. At the minute, this 2011 team is shaping up to be his best chance yet.

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