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Questions surround Eagles after loss
That’s what this young team left their fans with throughout the 2010 season — unfinished business.
Lots of excitement, too much youth and so many questions.
We'll start with the big one:
Vick vs. Kolb
There probably is no greater issue with the Eagles going forward than resolving the future of the quarterback position.
Starter Michael Vick, who turns 31 in June, is unsigned for next season.
Although Vick did a terrific job turning around his plummeting career, he’s far from a finished product.
He teased fans with his scintillating play at times, but his inconsistent performances down the stretch could be cause for concern. However, considering it was believed before the regular season started that he had no chance to ever become a full-time starter again, his play this season was remarkable.
It’s not a secret that the Eagles plan to re-sign Vick to a lucrative deal. But because of the uncertainty of the NFL’s labor situation, the Eagles are planning to wait to get a deal done with him and their other key free agents.
"Our view is really no different than what you see going around the league," team president Joe Banner recently told FOX 29 in Philadelphia. "The unknown of the collective bargaining agreement. We’ve decided, and everybody can make their own decision, that it is safer to wait, be patient, let's see what the landscape is, and then move forward."
An even bigger issue is what to do with Kevin Kolb.
The Eagles’ second-round pick out of the 2007 NFL Draft waited patiently through the first three seasons in order to get his shot after the team traded longtime starter Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins last April.
Kolb signed a one-year extension through the 2011 season with $12.26 million guaranteed. But the final year of his deal carries only $1.392 million in base salary. Although his salary is fully guaranteed, that amount is very palatable to handle.
But standing on the sidelines for another season isn’t exactly what Kolb is looking for.
“I want to play. But I love it here, and I love this city. But I want to be a starter, and it’s hard sometimes,” he said after Sunday’s game. “I haven’t given it any thought yet, and I don’t know if there are even any other options. I’ll talk to my agent soon, and I will talk to (head coach) Andy (Reid) about it.”
There should be no shortage of teams interested in Kolb.
At least seven to eight teams have unresolved quarterback issues. Although Kolb has played his entire NFL career in the West Coast offense, he’s known as a quick learner and is capable of playing in any system.
Dealing with free agents
The Eagles are one of the NFL’s youngest teams, but they also could lose some key free agents from both sides of the ball. Six starters are unsigned for next season.
On offense, they are in good shape with just Vick and starting right guard Max Jean-Gilles set to become unrestricted free agents.
But four of their 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball are unsigned.
Weakside linebacker Ernie Sims, whom the team acquired via a trade with the Detroit Lions last April, almost certainly won’t be back based on the inconsistency of his performance. Starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, one of their most talented players on defense, has struggled with injuries the past two seasons.
“I like it here. I definitely want to be back. I like the city. But we have to see with the CBA and what happens with that,” Bradley said.
If the old rules are in effect, Bradley would be an unrestricted free agent. If the revised rules, which were used during the 2010 season, are in play, Bradley would be a restricted free agent because he would have only four seasons of service.
Patterson, who took over the starting job for the injured Ellis Hobbs, played quite well for roughly three-quarters of the season, but he struggled mightily in a few games late in the season and was temporarily benched.
Mikell, who turns 31 in September, might have seen his better days. But he’s a smart player who is well respected by the coaches and players.
The DeSean Jackson issue
Not only do the Eagles need to address some of their key free agents, but they must address a big contractual issue with one of their best players on the offensive side of the ball.
Star wide receiver DeSean Jackson finished this season with one year left on his rookie deal. He’s scheduled to earn just $565,000 in base salary for 2011 — a figure well below an acceptable amount for a player of his stature.
Privately, the team has told Jackson, who is considered to be the NFL’s best deep threat, he will get a lucrative contract extension once the new CBA is reached.
But give Jackson credit. Although it was obvious he was bothered by not having a new deal this season, he did not cause any distractions.
Fix the defense
Much has been made of the problems the Eagles defense had in the red zone area this season. The defense allowed a whopping 36 touchdowns out of 46 chances (78.3 percent) inside the 20-yard line this season. That’s the worst in the NFL in the past 20 years. And nearly 98 percent of all red zone possessions from opposing offenses resulted in at least three points given up.
Many want to blame defensive coordinator Sean McDermott for the problems, but Philadelphia’s issues on the defensive side of the ball are much deeper.
The Eagles have one of the youngest defensive units in the league. McDermott, who got off to a good start this season with his Week 1 game plan against the Packers, had five new starters to coach.
What plagued the defense when it came down to making a big stop on third downs was the inexperience of many players. They simply made too many mental errors as the season progressed. McDermott is known as a sharp guy, and some players complained privately that his scheme, on occasion, forced them to think too much. It needed to be more basic so they could execute the game plan from a mental standpoint.
Rumors persisted after the Week 7 meltdown against the Tennessee Titans that McDermott’s job security might be an issue, but there were never any real indications that his job was on the line. Reid isn’t one to fire his coaches. The only coach he fired in recent years was special teams coach Ted Daisher after the 2009 season. He replaced him with arguably the best special teams coach in the NFL in Bobby April.
If McDermott winds up getting fired, it’s believed senior assistant/defensive backs coach Dick Jauron would be a strong candidate to take over as defensive coordinator.
The Eagles simply need to get more experience at different positions on defense. And the simplest way those players can get that is with more playing time. Adding veterans to the roster certainly is another way the team can address that issue.
And adding depth at defensive end and improving the much-maligned linebacker unit must be addressed going forward, as well.
Possibly losing Mornhinweg
One issue that could arise in the coming days or weeks is the potential loss of offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who is expected to interview for the vacant Cleveland Browns head-coaching position in the near future
Mornhinweg, who is known in NFL circles as a terrific play caller and offensive scheme designer, would be hard to replace. He has been credited for much of Vick’s success. If he does wind up leaving, former Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress could be his possible replacement. Childress was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator for three seasons (2003-05).
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