Offense Sets West

Brian Westbrook got a glimpse of what it's like being a featured back in the NFL last year. He's looking to continue that role this year, but with Donovan McNabb back in the fold, the passing game may rule again?

In the world of fantasy football running backs rule, but in reality, quarterbacks run the asylum. For the Philadelphia Eagles, a team notorious for being pass oriented, they must reconsider their philosophy in 2007 to be successful.

When you have a player as talented as Brian Westbrook on your team, a running back that has the potential to rush for over 1,200 yards and catch 70 – 75 passes a season for 1,000 yards – that's a weapon you have to utilize.

This Sunday, when the Eagles take on the Green Bay Packers, taking advantage of a poor run defense should be the main focus of Philadelphia's attack. Granted, Philadelphia loves to pass the ball and with Donovan McNabb, who's fully recovered from a torn ACL, back into the swing of things, Andy Reid will look to pass the ball around. But if Westbrook has anything to say about it, he will get his share of touches and opportunities to shine.

"I don't have to remind them [about running the ball]," Westbrook said. "I think the coaches know going into the season that we still need to run the ball no matter if Donovan's in there. Donovan's going to have success this year and that's only going to help our running game. As the season goes on, it's going to help us even more."

The uncertainty of McNabb makes things a little dicey in Philadelphia. When McNabb is healthy he's one of the best quarterbacks in the game. But when he's injured or hampered by a nagging injury, he loses his star appeal and overall impact.

A major test will come when McNabb has to face a Packers secondary that includes former Eagles cornerback Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Harris and Woodson make up one of the leagues best corner tandems in the league and if the passing game isn't working, the run game should be available if the Eagles offense struggles.

If the pass fails to the outside and inside receivers, turn to the best receiving threat out of the backfield in the NFL…

"I just know that when I have the opportunity to put the ball in my hands, I have to make the most of it," Westbrook said. "That's what my abilities allow me to do, to make the most of the opportunities I have. Making people miss and trying to score touchdowns, that's my goal."

This season is set up to be a breakout one for Westbrook. He's been getting better and better since he entered the league as a third round pick out of Villanova in 2002. Westbrook is known for being the best "screen receiver" in the league and has the ability to take a five-yard screen pass for a 60-yard touchdown. It's only a matter of time until the Eagles show Westbrook the respect he deserves and hand him the ball 20-times a game.

It's coming, and he knows it.

"I would have a very good season," Westbrook said, referring to carrying the ball more in a game. "I think you would see my numbers close to what some of the best running backs in the game's numbers would be."

Those numbers start calculating this Sunday.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of and an NFL Analyst for Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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