During the season, when we do our 10 observations after every game, we also include the optimist/pessimist feature.
If you're an MTC newbie, I attempt to analyze the Birds from the "glass half full" and "glass half empty" perspectives.
Obviously, the rational fan (are there any of you out there?) generally falls somewhere in between the two extremes, but the exercise provides a sort of window into the state of the team.
So I thought we'd bring back the feature, but in a different way, as we approach the start of training camp in Lehigh. Over the next couple weeks, I'll take a stab at the optimistic and pessimistic view for various areas of the Eagles' team.
It will serve as a sort of unconventional way to preview camp.
I'll include a poll with each post to gauge your confidence in the position. The scale goes from 1 to 5. A '1' indicates you are petrified. A '5' indicates you couldn't be more confident.
We will start with the running backs and go from there.
Down at the bottom, I'll include some links, including an all-important follow-up to yesterday's mango discussion.
The optimist says...
Believe me when I say this is the position that will most benefit from the offseason moves. Let's start with Brian Westbrook. While the novice Eagles fan expresses concern about him missing training camp, those of us who are paying attention realize it's the best thing that could have happened to B-West. I hardly think he needs to run through two-a-days in the Bethlehem heat. Let him rest up, recover and get ready for the opener at Carolina. You think he doesn't see or hear everyone doubting him and saying he's done? Westbrook's been dealing with this his whole life. The guy wasn't even projected to be an "efficient" starter in the league, and he's turned in one of the best careers for a running back in franchise history. Behind him you have an absolute talent in LeSean McCoy, who the Eagles stole in the second round. Shady will be able to spell Westbrook all season and make sure he's fresh in November, December and most importantly, the postseason. McCoy can only benefit from practicing with the first team and will provide the perfect complement to Westbrook. And let's not forget Leonard Weaver, or as he refers to himself, "Weave." Finally! A fullback! Short-yardage problems? Good-bye. The front office addressed the offense's biggest weaknesses with one of the best lead blockers in the game. This group will surprise and give the Birds balance and the ability to kill clock in the fourth quarter.
The pessimist says...
Why are we even covering this position? Since when do running backs even matter in Andy Reid's offense? Here are some numbers for you: 4.0, that's Westbrook's average yards per carry last season, tied for the worst of his career. 54 catches for 402 yards. His 2008 receiving stats, and the worst numbers he's posted since 2003. The guy turns 30 in September. Is that when a running back peaks? I don't think so. Westbrook's best days are behind him. It's time to move on. And if you're expecting a rookie to fill the void, keep dreaming. Wait until McCoy fails to pick up a blitz in Week 1 and gets Donovan McNabb killed. He won't see the field again the rest of the season. The Eagles really have a great track record here with Ryan Moats and Tony Hunt. Two years ago, it was no punt returner. Last year, it was no fullback. And this year, it's no insurance at running back. Are you really prepared to count on Lorenzo Booker when Westbrook goes down with an injury and McCoy can't learn the offense? I don't think there's much else to say in terms of this team's dire running back situation.
** Via Twitter, the Eagles are Trent Dilfer's pick to win the Super Bowl.
** The Eagles are up with their training camp practice schedule on the team's Web site.
** Last week we wrote about Andrew Brandt's spending philosophy. This week, he explains the process involved with negotiating rookie contracts. Brandt, a consultant for the Eagles and founder of National Football Post, talks about using escalators, or incentives, as a tool to structure rookie contracts:
Negotiations are all about two things: leverage and risk. The escalator is way to allocate risk in a player contract negotiation, incentivizing the player’s upside while protecting the team’s downside with a fourth year of the contract buying out the vagaries of restricted free agency.
** And lastly, but probably most importantly, I enjoyed the feedback about my statement that the mango is the most underrated fruit. My condolences to the reader who found out he was allergic to them.
And to the reader who said they are good, but hard to slice, you are 100 percent right.
Today's random food thought: Unless you're dealing with some special, homemade recipe, there's no reason to purchase anything other than a Carvel ice cream cake for birthday celebrations. Other options never measure up and are simply foolish and non-sensical at this point. The brown crunchies in between the vanilla and chocolate simply have no match. I dare you to disagree with me.