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igglesblogman
The news item v-man linked to yesterday about the Eagles looking to trade Ryan Moats and replace him with the oft-requested "big" running back got me thinking. Eagles fans, even those who strongly support the team and the current coach/ownership group, have been clamoring for years for a few very specific changes:

1) Less emphasis on the passing game, greater commitment to running the football

2) Relatedly, a big running back to provide a change of pace to Westbrook and help grind clock and keep the defense off the field

3) Wide receivers who were more than just adequate system guys

4) A linebacking corps that made plays and didn't just take up space

5) Better clock management

I think that about covers it, even if it's not an exhaustive list. So here's what's interesting about that:

1) Last year, after McNabb got hurt and Reid handed over the playcalling duties to Marty, the Eagles shifted to a more balanced offensive attack that relied heavily on Westbrook and Buckhalter running behind that mammoth offensive line.

2) The current rumor has Moats out / big back in (please make it Tony Hunt, that's all I ask).

3) While proclaiming to anyone who would listen that they were completely, totally, utterly content with the wide receivers they had in house, the Eagles have now brought in Terrell Owens, Donte Stallworth and Kevin Curtis over the past three season, along with drafting three guys over that same time period who currently sit #1(?), #3 and #4 on the depth chart.

4) After yet another poor showing for the linebackers in 2006, the Eagles tried to sign Ryan Fowler from Dallas, reportedly were engaged in talks with Denver regarding Pro Bowler Al Wilson and pulled the trigger on a deal that brought in former Pro Bowler Takeo Spikes. And they may not be done.

5) After Reid turned over the playcalling to Marty, he had more time to spend thinking about things like clock management. Whatever you may think of last year's infamous punt decision, it's clear the Eagles did a better job in the second half of last year not burning timeouts or putting themselves in tight time situations.

So, the question then becomes: Were the fans right all along?
BirdsWinBaby
Damn right we was right!!

for what its worth i dont believe any thoughts of replacing moats have to do with getting a big pounding back to spell B-West. i still think they hope to return to being pass happy as they were before but Dmac will need time if he plays game 1 (which i think is likely)

i think they are looking for a better blocker than Moats to protect the QB while he gets his stride back after the injury and protect B-West too. he wont be a star runner but good enough so the defense wont be absolutely sure its a passing play when B-west runs off
AustinFan
It's not a question of whether fans were "right" - it's a matter of priorities.

If you don't have enough DL, LBs take a lower priority, we've drafted 4 DL the last two years, signed three more as FAs, think they saw a problem?

If you can't keep your QB vertical, it doesn't matter how good your WRs are (ask any QB in Arizona the last few years). So we drafted 8 OL the last four years and found 3 more as UDFAs. And a mediocre RB behind a good OL will do better than a good RB behind a mediocre OL.

You build a house from the foundation up.

Bocadelphia Eagles John
QUOTE(AustinFan @ Apr 19 2007, 12:59 PM) [snapback]111159[/snapback]


You build a house from the foundation up.


I agree.

That not withstanding, the fact of the matter is that fans can very often spot deficiencies and are not afraid to articulate them. For the Eagles it just seems like we've not been able to do a COMPLETE job of creating that super bowl winning roster. Since Andy's arrival we've been taught lessons by the likes of N.E., N.O., Tampa, Carolina and some others.

The startling fact of the NFL is that everybody plays with the same deck of cards. The level playing field is fixed by such things as Salary Cap and how the draft is run. So when your team is sitting home while others play in the Conference or Super Bowl games, you have to wonder. How come the other teams can get it done, but our owners, GM and coaching staff can't?

It's not like the cards are stacked against us, after all.

And unfortunately coach Reid is so EASY to second guess. He just gives us plenty of opportunity to do that.
So there's something not quite right there, yet. I'm waiting for him to take that next step up.
igglesblogman
AF, given that the current coaching regime has been in place since 1999, at what point would you think it would be fair to expect the franchise to have gotten past the foundation laying stage?

Beyond that, your issue only addresses numbers three and four. One, two and five are still out there.
AustinFan
Well, if you believe to what they say, I'd love to invite you to my poker game. When does a horse trader diss his livestock?

Big running backs are a fantasy, name all the successful big backs in the last twenty years. Most franchise backs used to be 200-210 lbs (Emmitt, Sweetness, Curtis Martin, Allen, etc.), now I'd say they're 210-220 lbs. Over 230 lbs they're not quick enough through the hole to be effective, other than the Bus. Same with short yardage, these guys above did a better job of getting 1st downs and TDs than those proverbial big backs.

The key to running the ball:
1. The OL
2. A back that can see the hole, follow a block and has a quick burst to day light, minimum size, enough to break arm tackles
3. A passing game that keeps teams from cheating toward the LOS.

The only other team that has done it consistently is NE.
Indy had a far worse playoff record, Steelers choked a number of years, Carolina was a one hit wonder, as was Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

Sometimes it's a matter of everything going right, staying healthy, getting the breaks. Timing is tough, you need young players to emerge before key veterans age too quickly.

Sports teams face constant entropy - injuries, free agency, players losing their drive or skills - and a lot of this is unpredictable. Often you have to patch up one part of the ship while rebuilding another part just to stay afloat. Only in hindsight is the optimal strategy obvious.
igglesblogman
QUOTE(AustinFan @ Apr 19 2007, 12:57 PM) [snapback]111163[/snapback]

Big running backs are a fantasy, name all the successful big backs in the last twenty years. Most franchise backs used to be 200-210 lbs (Emmitt, Sweetness, Curtis Martin, Allen, etc.), now I'd say they're 210-220 lbs. Over 230 lbs they're not quick enough through the hole to be effective, other than the Bus.


First point: we're not looking for a guy who can supplant Westbrook as the feature back. It's a complementary piece, someone who can move the pile in short-yardage situations and can carry a late-game load to keep the clock moving and take some of the injury risk out of keeping Westbrook out there all the time. So we don't need a Jerome Bettis freak of nature.

Second point, successful running backs over 220 pounds are a lot less unusual than you're suggesting:

2006
#2 - 230 - Larry Johnson
#5 - 231 - Steven Jackson
#7 - 228 - Rudi Johnson
#14 - 226 - Fred Taylor
#16 - 245 - Jamal Lewis (isn't what he used to be)
#20 - 232 - Deuce McAllister
#28 - 225 (sure) - Corey Dillon (also isn't what he used to be)

And it was only a few years ago when five of the top ten rushers in the league were big guys:

2003
#1 - 245 - Jamal Lewis
#4 - 232 - Deuce McAllister
#6 - 226 - Fred Taylor
#7 - 230 - Stephen Davis
#10 - 230+ - Ricky Williams

No one here is arguing that we should look to move away from Westbrook as the go-to guy. But for as many things as the guy does well, pushing the pile shouldn't have to be one of them.
nephillymike
Yep. If they keep on listening maybe we'll house a trophy this year!

I'm not crazy about the big back theory. We just need another good well rounded back to be able to come in and contribute in a mix with WB and Buck. It doesn't matter what his size to me.
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