The Eagles' 2nd TE and 4th WR
Who will emerge as the Eagles' fourth wide receiver and second tight end? And how often will those players be on the field in 2010?
The Eagles' 2nd TE and 4th WR
On the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles (barring injuries) are set at their starting skill positions.
When camp opens in 10 days, the competition at running back, wide receiver and tight end will be about depth and roster spots.
For awhile, I've been warning you to not get too carried away about the competition for the fourth wide receiver position (likely between Hank Baskett and Riley Cooper) - mostly because the Eagles don't put four receivers on the field at the same time over the course of a game.
Well, I stand somewhat corrected.
The 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac found that the Eagles went with four receivers on 13 percent of their snaps in 2009. Is that a huge number? No. But it's higher than I expected, and ranked third in the league.
As I mentioned during OTAs, I think that number will likely go down in 2010. Again, assuming everyone stays healthy, the Eagles will have to get creative in finding ways to get guys like Cornelius Ingram and Mike Bell on the field. That could mean lining running backs and tight ends outside or in the slot, instead of a fourth wide receiver.
Speaking of tight ends, the Eagles went with 2-TE formations on 20 percent of their snaps in 2010. That number ranked third-to-last in the NFL. Remember Alex Smith? He was the second tight end in those situations. This year, it'll be Ingram or rookie Clay Harbor joining Brent Celek.
A few more numbers to pass along:
* The Eagles ranked 11th in the league in running play action on 20 percent of their snaps. I thought that number would be higher. Have the Eagles ever called a pass play where they didn't run play action?
* The Eagles had 22 passes tipped at the line of scrimmage on offense, the highest number in the league. They also tipped the most balls (20) at the line of scrimmage on defense. In case you're wondering, Kevin Kolb is listed at 6-3; Donovan McNabb 6-2. Although there's more to it than just height obviously.
As Twitter follower @thinktwice pointed out, the Eagles were tied for 10th in the league in pass attempts. The defense faced 580 attempts. Only three teams saw more.
* The Eagles ranked third in the league in number of running back screens.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
SI.com's Don Banks takes a look at 20 questions around the league going into the 2010 season, including whether Kolb is ready to be in the spotlight for the Eagles:
If you're an Eagles fan, you wish Philadelphia had more of a running game and a stronger defense to help lift some of the burden from Kolb's shoulders, but that's somewhat off-set by the explosive receiving weapons Philly has amassed in recent years. There's no way to replace McNabb's experience all in one season, so Kolb can be expected to make some glaring mistakes as he learns the subtleties of playing the position. But Reid will always show patience and refuse to panic or cave to the talk-show ranting, and my sense is Kolb will reward him with a solid and occasionally spectacular first season on the job.
Michael Lombardi of NFL.com breaks down the NFC based on five categories of contenders. The Eagles fall into the second category of Red-Chip Contenders, or playoff contenders:
With all the attention that the Donovan McNabb trade received in Philadelphia, the issues at quarterback diverted the attention from the real problem, which is Philly's overall defense. The Eagles last year were like the Denver Nuggets of the old ABA -- they can run and gun and score points, but could not keep their opponents from scoring or making plays, especially in the red zone. In the final eight games of the season, the Eagles' defense was 21st in points allowed and they gave up as many touchdown passes -- 27 -- as their offense scored. The Eagles have always wanted their defense to complement their offense, meaning they wanted their defense to be very active rushing the passer in the framework of their blitz scheme. Adding first-round draft pick Brandon Graham will help, as will getting Stewart Bradley back healthy to solidify their middle linebacker position. But the biggest help will be if second-year defensive coordinator Sean McDermott can grow into the job and make the right adjustments. If so, it could move the Eagles into blue-chip territory.
Lombardi only has two NFC teams in his Blue-Chip category: the Saints and the Packers.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is scheduled to visit with the Eagles on Tuesday, Aug. 3. I wonder if he'll get a Michael Vick question or two. What do you think?
The vacation is coming to an end. I'm flying back to Philly Sunday evening for a week there before heading up to Lehigh.
As I mentioned on Twitter, it's been an impressive performance by Portland. They like their coffee and beer here. The weather has probably been the best in the country this week (70s and sunny everyday before dipping a bit lower for tremendous sleeping weather at night). And quite possibly my favorite part of the trip: they make giant, homemade chipwiches. I'm serious. This thing is the size of your head. Two homemade chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream in between.
As for the people, it's gotta be first in the nation in hipster per capita. And I'm pretty sure you have to show proof of a tatoo to become a Portland resident. But overall, a nice place to visit.