Overall, the Eagles have been one of the few consistently successful NFL teams over the past decade. They are joined by the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers, and I suppose you could throw the Ravens in there. However, there’s always room for improvement and it gets a lot tougher to continue success through two decades than one. Give the Eagles credit for turning over their roster. This is not a team dependent on one player, as we see the team continue to make the playoffs despite the absence of stars like Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Dawkins, and Sheldon Brown. I have come up with five good ways for the Eagles to plan for the future.
1. Trade Kevin Kolb: It has to be done. Although Kolb is a valuable backup, he’s worth much more to other teams than he is to the Eagles. Think of it this way; would you trade a first round pick (and possibly more) for a quality backup passer when you have Michael Vick? Of course not, so why would you hesitate when the deal is presented the other way around? If Kolb was under contract for a long time, I would feel differently, but since he’s out after this season anyway, the Eagles might as well cash in on him. Either Arizona or Seattle would be willing to give up a first and third round pick for him. So, heading into 2012, the Eagles will have seven picks in the first four rounds.
2. Hire a game manager: Andy Reid is an elite head coach in this league because of his ability to develop offensive talent and because he is great at finding players that fit his scheme. However, he has his weaknesses. The Eagles could have come away with some key wins if Andy Reid knew how to manage the clock in the two minute drill or when to throw the red hankie. Find somebody who can teach Michael Vick how to master the clock and be in the upstairs booth telling Big Red when to pull out the challenge flag. Having a key behind-the-scenes man could be the difference between a win and a loss in the playoffs.
3. Stockpile DBs: With a franchise quarterback, explosive receivers, talented pass rushers, and the two best positional coaches on each line, the Eagles are missing only one component required to become Super Bowl favorites. They need defensive backs. To go through teams like New Orleans, Atlanta, and Green Bay in the playoffs, the Eagles will need to be at least seven or eight deep in the secondary. Without a coaching genius like Howard Mudd or Jim Washburn back there, the Eagles will have to do it with talent. If Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins declares for the supplemental draft, I would be willing to spend a second round pick on him. If he doesn’t, I would go out and get Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Joseph, Antonio Cromartie, or Ike Taylor and let Trevard Lindley and Curtis Marsh continue to develop behind them. My two first round picks in 2011 would ideally go towards Tennessee safety Janzen Jackson and South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, Stephon Gilmore, Trevard Lindley, Janzen Jackson, Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, and Kurt Coleman make up a secondary that will be capable of carrying the team.
4. Trade DeSean Jackson: Yes, I said it. Keep in mind that I would only consider a trade if a team were willing to give up the farm for him. The trade would have to fetch a lot more than the Broncos got for Brandon Marshall (two second rounders). I would demand two first rounders. If anybody bites, the Eagles will be in great shape for 2012, as they would have three first round picks and two more in 2013, which is 2000 Jets-esque (they took Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Chad Pennington, and Anthony Becht in the first round). Jackson just disappears for too long and is afraid to run across the middle. He has his place in the league, but he is overrated.
5. Hire a top defensive coordinator: Juan Castillo might get the job done, but assuming he’s not Jim Jonhnson, which nobody expects him to be, the Eagles should try to get an upgrade. It’s easier said than done, but the Eagle defense won’t be what it once was without a Jim Johnson or Steve Spagnuolo at the helm.