Before we get to the offensive line, your poll results for the receivers:
4 - 56%
3 - 20.3%
5 - 14.8%
2 - 6.3%
1 - 2.7%
I imagine if we had done this little exercise every season during the Andy Reid era, this group would be rated as high as any of the non-T.O. teams.
And they should.
In the optimist section of the post, I talked about the receivers having clear roles, and I believe that. I don't know which receiver (if any, you never know how injuries and the rest of the roster will break down) will be the odd man out, but it will definitely be interesting to see where Reggie Brown stands when workouts begin.
I like this group, but I still want to see if one guy steps up at crunch time. That's an area where Donovan McNabb draws a lot of criticism. But I'm of the belief that it's often been a a group letdown when the offense fails to effectively run the two-minute offense. That means Reid, McNabb, the offensive line, and of course, the receivers.
Can DeSean Jackson be that guy to come up with two or three catches on a final drive when the team needs him? Even if his overall numbers don't improve, if he can come up big in those crucial spots and form a comfort level with McNabb, I'll consider his sophomore campaign a success.
On to the ofensive linemen. The poll, as always, is attached. 5 means you're confident. 1 means you're not.
The optimist says...
This group is the single biggest reason the Eagles have Super Bowl expectations. More often than not in the NFL, talent wins out. And there might not be a more talented offensive line in the league. Let's start on the left side. The casual fan rips the Eagles for not "going for it now." The educated fan realizes they targeted one of the best left tackles in the NFL and aggresively went out and got him. A happy Jason Peters has the potential to be the best in the league and will be an upgrade from Tra Thomas protecting McNabb's blind side. Todd Herremans played at a Pro Bowl level last season, and Jamaal Jackson will be fine at center despite what the haters would have you believe. On the right side, you have Shawn Andrews out to prove he can play tackle with his brother by his side. The Eagles will be able to protect McNabb and let their speed take advantage of defenses. And more importantly, what fans will love, is that this group will give the Eagles the ability to run the ball, particularly in short-yardage situations. Worried about turnover with Thomas and Jon Runyan gone? Don't be. Juan Castillo is one of the more underappreciated coaches on Reid's staff. These guys will be playing as one unit by the time they take the field in the opener against Carolina.
The pessimist says...
Success along the offensive line in the NFL is all about continuity. The Eagles had it for years with Runyan and Thomas as the bookends. Now the team's brass and media have convinced you that losing those two warriors is no big deal. I don't get it. You see talent along the offensive line. I see question marks. We can start with Peters. A guy who gave up 11.5 sacks last season. Oh, he was unhappy about his contract? Well... then it's OK. Are you kidding me? Is that the kind of guy you want protecting McNabb's blind side when the game's on the line? A guy who didn't try because he was unhappy with his contract? I'm dumbfounded that something like that flies in this city. Then there are the Andrews brothers. Given the bizarre path we've seen Shawn's career take, I don't know how you can really count on him at this point. Especially now that he's at a new position. And Stacey is battling back from an injury. How do we know he's going to be 100 percent? Herremans is fine, but he certainly doesn't wow me, and Jackson was probably the team's worst lineman last season. Question marks all over the place. So much with this offense rests on the shoulders of McNabb and Brian Westbrook. But if this group isn't effective, forget about it. The Birds won't even sniff the postseason, much less the Super Bowl.