Behind Enemy Lines - Part 1

PackerReport.com's managing editor Todd Korth asked WarNest.com's Chris Steuber questions regarding this year's Philadelphia Eagles team heading into Sunday's season opener. Here is Part 1 of the Q & A:

Todd Korth: Is Donovan McNabb the same, physically and mentally, as he was prior to his season-ending knee injury last season?

Chris Steuber: From what he’s displayed in the preseason, I believe he is. Mentally I think he has more motivation, especially since the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb in the second round of the draft. I think he knows that this year has to be special; for himself, the Eagles, and the city of Philadelphia. Physically, McNabb appears to be in great shape. He’s recovered nicely from his ACL injury and appears to be ahead of schedule in every facet of his game. I remember watching Carson Palmer last season when he returned from his knee injury, and it took him at least six weeks to get back to where he was before the injury. McNabb, on the other hand, is moving around nicely in the pocket, and he’s even going through his reads better than he was prior to the injury. I think McNabb is destined for an MVP caliber season.

TK: Are the Eagles better with him, or would they have been better off to retain Jeff Garcia?

CS: That’s a tough question. I think Garcia brought a fiery attitude to the field that McNabb never showed. Garcia was a player Philadelphia fans embraced as one of their own; almost like a real life Rocky. If it were up to the fans of Philadelphia, I think Garcia would have been their choice. However, you can’t deny what McNabb brings to the table. He’s a player the opposition has to be wary of at all times. He’s a dangerous weapon that if taken for granted will beat you on a single play. I’m not sure I can say the same thing about Garcia.

TK: Do you feel the Eagles' defense has improved over the offseason?

CS: Yes and no. The Eagles improved their linebackers with the acquisition of Takeo Spikes, but they also diminished their team leadership with the release of Jeremiah Trotter. The Eagles brought in a few defensive tackles, Montae Reagor, Ian Scott, and (recently) Kimo von Oelhoffen, to provide depth up front, but Reagor and Scott (currently on minor-IR) have been battling injuries all preseason. Allowing Michael Lewis to leave in free agency and making Sean Considine the starting strong safety is a bold move by the Eagles. Considine continues to struggle tackling bigger opponents; he has to become more effective or backup Quentin Mikell will assume the position. Overall, the Eagles did a good job in the offseason, but I have my doubts about how much improved they will be on defense.

TK: Will the Eagles continue to rely on passing more than running to move the ball?

CS: If they want to win, they have to get the ball to their biggest playmaker, Brian Westbrook. For the Eagles to be successful this year, they have to allow Westbrook to show that he’s a superstar. When Westbrook has the ball in his hands, it changes everything about their offense. Obviously, the Eagles are going to throw the ball, but it’s vital to their success to have a consistent running game that keeps defenses guessing. Running the ball puts less pressure on McNabb and keeps him fresh as the game goes on. I think the coaching staff understands that Westbrook is the key to success, and with Marty Mornhinweg calling the plays, I think you’ll see the Eagles have a balanced attack.

TK: Will the Eagles be better at stopping the run, after allowing 4.5 yards per carry and 136.4 yards per game last year?

CS: It remains to be seen. I haven’t seen much improvement this preseason from last season, and it’s a big concern. The key to a better run defense is the development of Brodrick Bunkley. If he becomes the player the Eagles envisioned, they will have more success against the run this season.



A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. 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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