Eagles fans, we have a problem

Santo Caruso

I think I’ve heard enough about the Eagles problems this season.

In Madden 2005 they are ranked 95, second best in the game, and that is good enough for me.

It’s not even the complaints that bother me so much either. It is that everyone says the same things: cornerbacks, injuries, McNabb’s accuracy, letting key veterans go without ever getting anything in return. Based on what I’ve heard from Eagles fans, I would be better off taping a night of WIP and playing it everyday.

Why can’t anyone come up with creative problems? Like the potential need to order a special helmet to contain McNabb’s afro. Or how about Andy Reid getting stuck in a booth at a Chinese Buffet? Or even Mark Simoneau failing to make weight and being forced to drop down to the 106-pound weight class.

In order to separate the real issues, because like every team in the NFL, the Eagles have issues. From the foolish ones, I will present three realistic road blocks and three that are more likely detours.

Popular Complaints from ignorant fans:

1) Young Cornerbacks replacing 23 and 2: Did I miss something? How much did Troy and Bobby Taylor play last year? Here are some numbers-Taylor- 19 tackles, 10 pass deflections. Vincent-57 tackles, eight pass deflections. Lito Sheppard-50 tackles, 18 pass deflections. Sheldon Brown-43 tackles, 11 pass deflections. Doesn’t seem like much drop off to me.

Add in one more year experience, the return of Brian Dawkins at safety (with Michael Lewis beside him giving something almost no other team has: two pro bowlers in the secondary) and a pass rush from Jevon Kearse should help them out a lot.

Taylor and Vincent had their best years when Hugh Douglas was coming off the edge and getting double-digit sacks. The last memory I have of Bobby Taylor is he and Dawkins leaping and missing as Mushin Muhammed catches a touchdown pass in the NFC championship.

2) McNabb’s inaccuracy: We knew by drafting McNabb we were taking a playmaker. Jason Kidd may not make a lot of shots, but he creates them for everyone else on the court. McNabb is the same … or is he?

Drew Bledsoe, another first round pick who is the epitome of a stand in the pocket, rifle-armed quarterback and was once considered a possible hall of famer, has a career completion percentage of 57 percent. McNabb’s career completion percent? Fifty-seven exactly. McNabb has never had a receiver make the pro bowl (besides a few gifts Reid gave Chad Lewis) and he is a perennial MVP candidate.

So, is it safe to say with a big time receiver, that that stat may go up? Added with what he brings to the game with his legs, leadership and toughness, we have a QB as good as anyone else in the league?

3) Letting Key Veterans Go: They are right; we are wrong. They are smart; we are dumb. Somehow, someway these men pay millions every year to study football and know their team and players know more than we, the average fan, do.

I know, this is tough to believe. Every veteran has left, and we have found ourselves better without them. Hugh Douglas leaves and proceeds to have a three sack season. Brian Mitchell leaves and Brian Westbrook is second in the league in return yards. Jeremiah Trotter leaves, gets injured and is cut by the Redskins. Douglas and Trotter come back with their tails between their legs and sign for the veteran minimum.

It looks like the Eagles could use Duce Staley. This much is true, however; there are rumors (and don’t hold me to this) that Bobby Taylor is struggling to hold his spot in Seattle. Staley has yet to prove himself a No. 1 back.

The Real Problems:

1) Mark Simoneau: The guy looks like a tackling dummy might run him over (and outweigh him), yet he is supposed to solidify the Eagles already weak-run defense. He started well last season but wore down.

It is tough to say what will happen this year with the departure of Carlos Emmons, the last veteran Eagle linebacker. Hopefully, the line can keep the blockers off of him, allowing him to use his speed to stop sweeps and run away from big scary running backs.

2) Todd Pinkston: Pinkston should be running free, propelling himself with his broomstick legs into the endzone. He was the Eagles joke of a No. 1 receiver last year and spent most of his time in a heap at the line of scrimmage after a cornerback ran him over.

Terrel Owens and the strict enforcement of the five yard contact rule should help. He has shown no signs of improvement or any potential for the season. Billy McMullen hasn’t blown anyone away either, but Greg Lewis has looked alright.

3) The Offensive Line: Two years ago, the Eagles were the only team whose offensive line played the entire season together.

Last year injuries changed that, and we learned a few things about the backups. Mostly that they cannot play. Hence why the Eagles drafted over 1,000 pounds of lineman in April, including first round pick Shawn Andrews.

Andrews has looked great (possibly better than higher draft pick Robert Gallery who has already been demoted from tackle to guard), but as good as he has been, former first round pick Tra Thomas has looked terrible. After a weak year last season, and a gift pro bowl berth, there are wonders if he can get back to the form of a few seasons ago.

Add in Mayberry’s injury problems, the loss of Welbourne, who supposedly would have started over Thomas had he not forced a trade and that Jon Runyan is built more for run-blocking than passing, and this adds up to a lot of trouble in an area as important as any other on the field.