The League

Jason Brewer
Eagles Blogger

Jason Brewer

An economics student at Fordham University who runs Bleeding Green Nation

Steelers For Now


Before I discuss whether I agree with Joe Banner's assertion that the Eagles have the best roster in the NFL, let me first say that his quote doesn't suprise me. Eagles management is simply a positive bunch. They often speak in grandiose terms about their players and organization. Owner Jeff Lurie once famously (or infamously according to the more cynical Eagles fans) proclaimed the Eagles organization as "the gold standard" in the NFL. On several occasions Andy Reid has referred to Donovan McNabb as "the best QB in the NFL." After they engineered the blockbuster trade for Jason Peters this offseason, Reid proclaimed him "the best left tackle in the NFL." Upon signing free agent Asante Samuel a year ago Jeff Lurie said, "We regarded Asante as the number one free agent in football." When he was asked about moving pro bowl guard Shawn Andrews to tackle this offseason, Reid said Andrews was "probably was the finest offensive tackle I'd ever seen come out of college football."

I could go on... but I'll spare you.

My point is that this optimism and grand declarations are fairly common with the Eagles. The question Eagles fans have always asked is whether they really believe what they say, or if they just like positive talk?

All that said, I think Banner has a strong argument to make here. This Eagles team probably has more talent than the one that went to the Super Bowl in 2004. The defense is younger and more athletic. The linebacking corps especially, which doesn't have a member older than 25, is miles better than that 2004 team. The wide receiver position is deeper now than it ever has been in the Reid era. There are very few positions on this Eagles team that a person can point to as an obvious weakness, but there are questions. Questions which start with Brian Westbrook. When healthy, he's one of the most dangerous offensive players in the NFL. I say "when healthy" because currently he's not. Westbrook had two operations this summer, one on his knee and the other on his ankle. Both were minor procedures done to clean up the joints, but any time a running back pushing thirty goes under the knife it's cause for concern. As it stands now, Westbrook won't be back practicing until mid-August and probably won't play in the preseason.

Second year man Quintin Demps will be the guy expected to take over for Brian Dawkins at free safety, he showed flashes of good and bad last year... will he respond as the starter? Is Shawn Andrews' battle with depression over? Will Jeremy Maclin quickly acclimate to the NFL? And of course the question Eagles fans always ask themselves before a season, can Donovan McNabb stay healthy?

If the answers to all those questions is "yes," then I would say that Joe Banner may very well be right. For now though, I'll say the Pittsburgh Steelers have the best roster in the NFL until proven otherwise.

By Jason Brewer  |  July 27, 2009; 9:19 AM ET  | Category:  Philadelphia Eagles , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"The wide receiver position is deeper now than it ever has been in the Reid era."

Now there's a carefully crafted sentence if I ever saw one. Although it is probably true, one could also say, "The receiving corps has been the weak link throughout Reid's tenure with the Eagles and this year they don't seem to suck as much as usual." And that would also be true. But being "not as bad as usual" isn't the same thing as being good.

Posted by: kguy1 | July 27, 2009 10:14 AM

It's worth noting that the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys all have the same problem -- no established number one receiver. Be interesting to see how it plays out. The Redskins, meanwhile, could surprise offensively based on improvement from Jason Campbell.

Talent-wise, the best roster is in Dallas. The Giants and the Pats are second. Philly and Tennessee are perhaps in the top five. But Philly is relying on two new O-linemen, the Giants are without Burress and Derrick Ward, and the Pats weren't the most talented club in the NFL even before Brady got hurt.

Pittsburgh is a club with big holes, particularly on the offensive line. Ben is a terrific QB as long as you're not into consistent performances -- like the young Favre, he'll lose games for you as well as win them.

Posted by: Samson151 | July 28, 2009 12:21 PM

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