That’s a bold statement, I know, so I’ll back it up.
The Eagles have maintained their 2010 starting offensive roster, and made improvements in the depth chart where necessary. That same 2010 offense, by the way, ranked 3rd in total points scored per game, averaging 27.4, and second in total yards per game, averaging 389.4. The 2010 Eagles also had the most 40+ yard plays in the NFL, with 15 long-ball receptions of 40 yards or more and 6 rushes that broke the 40 yard barrier (league bests in both categories). The 2011 Eagles’ offense has the same homerun hitters, and a few wildcard additions.
Jackson and Vick: NFL’s Most Dangerous Duo
For starters, the Eagles have two of the NFL’s most dangerous big-play threats in Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. Every time each of these guys touches the ball, there’s potential for an ESPN Play of the Week. Jackson accounted for 8 of those 40 yard bombs last season on just 47 receptions, averaging 22.5 yards every time he caught the ball and racking up 33 first downs.
DeSean can score from anywhere on the field, as we saw him backpedaling into the end-zone after a bomb from Vick on his own 12 yard-line in Week 10 last year against Washington. And who could forget Jackson’s 10-yard out-route reception from a pass that Michael Vick threw with his foot on the border of his own end-zone against Dallas in week 14? Need a memory jogger?
You probably remember him sprinting up the left sideline, and then crossing the field to the opposite sideline, outrunning everybody on the field with a bum ankle, and then stopping on a dime and spinning around and falling into the end-zone backwards, capping off a 91-yard touchdown as only Desean Jackson can. The kid is electrifying.
Vick racked up 676 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground last season while maintaining a 62.6% completion ratio, throwing for 3,018 yards, and only giving up 6 picks. Vick ranked 9th in the league in rushing touchdowns, ahead of powerhouse runners such as Darren McFadden, Steven Jackson, and Cedric Benson. Vick also had more 20+ yard gains on the ground than home-run hitting RB’s Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore. His passing and leadership skills have improved dramatically over the past two seasons, and don’t be surprised if he ranks as one of the top passers in the NFL in 2011.
McCoy and Maclin: Moving the Chains
Speaking of home-run hitting RB’s, LeSean McCoy is a star in-the-making. McCoy managed to rush for 1,000+ yards in 2010 on only 207 carries, including 5 carries for 40 yards or more (most in NFL). McCoy was also the Eagles leading receiver with 78 receptions for 592 yards, including a 40 yarder against Houston. Expect McCoy to benefit from the addition of Ronnie Brown. Brown’s 6’0” 230 lb. frame and hard-nosed running will compliment McCoy’s shifty running-style and serve as a change of pace that will benefit not only McCoy, but the Eagles’ offense as a whole.
Jackson, Vick, and McCoy are the headliners of the Eagles’ offense, but that’s not to say that the Eagles don’t have a ton of explosive talent in their arsenal. Jeremy Maclin was Vick’s go-to guy in 2010, and because of the hype surrounding Jackson’s big-play ability, it’s easy for defenses to forget that the Eagles have solid wide receivers across lining up across the field. Maclin’s stats were better than most number one receivers in the league. He caught 70 passes last season for 964 yards and landed himself in the end-zone 10 times. Maclin doesn’t have Jackson’s speed, but he can get open over the middle, making him a threat to move the chains on every play, as he did 40 times last season.
Too Much Talent, Not Enough Credit (or touches) to Go Around
Another Eagles receiver who caught more passes than Jackson last season was Jason Avant, who caught 51 passes for 573 yards last season and has been a consistent contributor to Eagles offense over several seasons. Brent Celek also joins the Eagles’ 500+ receiving yard club, with 42 catches for 511 yards, but look for him to get more receptions this season. Andy Reid’s tight ends usually see the ball at least 4 or 5 times per game, and Celek certainly has the potential to be a playmaking tight end; he caught 76 passes for 971 yards and 8 TD’s in 2009.
Riley Cooper and Ronnie Brown can also catch balls and make plays, and with the wildcard additions of Vince Young and Sinorice Moss, who knows what we’ll see from Andy Reid’s notoriously creative offensive playbook. While Moss hasn’t produced much in the NFL as a receiver, he runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and was a playmaker in college at Miami, so be sure that Andy Reid will find a way to use him productively, other than as a return man. Young’s addition will add a different dynamic to an already incredibly dynamic offense. We’re not going to see the Harlem Globetrotters of the NFL, but two quarterbacks who can run the ball on your squad makes you wonder about the possibilities. You can bet that Andy will put both Vick and Young on the field a handful of times throughout the season.
The only problem with the Eagles’ offense is that there’s too much talent and not enough passes or handoffs to go around. We won’t likely see a Philly receiver with 100 receptions this season, or a running back with 300 carries, so don’t expect an Eagle to lead the league in any statistical categories besides ESPN highlights. What we will see, however, is the greatest passing attack in the league with an extra year of experience playing together under their belt and a superstar running back in-the-making playing against defenses that will already be paranoid and preoccupied with protecting against Vick and the Eagles’ aerial attack. Expect to see a lot of big plays and a lot of points coming from Philadelphia this season.
Eagles Offense: Big Numbers in 2011
My prediction is that we’ll see a 2011 Eagles offense that will average 30+ points per game, break the 400 yards-per-game barrier, and post the most ESPN Top Ten plays. This offense does have a huge target on its back, but with the maturity of Michael Vick and the rest of the talent on this team, they’ll live up to all of the August 2011 hype.
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