As we crawl toward Training Camp ’09 there is a lot of speculation about what the Eagles‘ offense will look like this season. Some believe the additions of two young, mammoth offensive tackles, a legit fullback and another running back means a more balanced, run-oriented attack will be implemented by Reid and Mornhinweg. It makes total sense when you consider how awful the Birds were last year (and previous years) in short-yardage and goal line rushing.
It makes too much sense.
Does anyone really think Reid will balance his run-pass ratio? I for one do not. When I examine what the brain trust has engineered this off-season, I have a sneaking suspicion we may end up seeing a more pass-happy offense than ever. Why, you ask? Well, it’s no secret Reid has had a lasting love affair with the forward pass. I firmly believe Big Red would throw on every down if it was a socially acceptable thing to do in NFL coaching circles. He’s come close to going this route on many occasions in the past. Right?
The additions of a first-round wide receiver from a prolific spread offense, a pass-catching tight end who’s never blocked a day in his life, a running back known for having great hands and a fullback with 59 receptions in the last two seasons tells me the ball will be in the air a lot in ’09. (Not to mention last year’s second-round wide receiver.) Those two brand new lineman and a healthy Shawn Andrews means fewer backs and tight ends having to stay in to block, which translates to more receivers being sent into the pattern. In theory, anyway.
I foresee a bevy of three and four receiver sets with a back and tight end all becoming potential targets. This is very similar to the offense adopted by the 2007 Patriots after they acquired Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. That season the Pats scored an NFL record 589 points, averaged 36.8 points-per-game, attempted 586 passes and tossed an NFL record 50 touchdown passes. Six players had 35 or more catches. The run-pass ratio was 44%-56%. (Blame NFL.com if the stats are incorrect.)
It helps to have Brady, Moss and Welker, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Of course, for all this to come to fruition the offensive line will have to dominate in pass protection and McNabb will have to get the ball out quickly and accurately, which are not his strong suits. However, this has never prevented Reid from chucking the rock early and often over the last ten seasons. He is after all, stubborn as a mule.
JMac came from a spread attack at Mizzou, as did Cornelius Ingram at Florida. I’m sure Reid is wide-eyed at the thought of DJax, Curtis, Avant, Maclin, Brown, Celek, Ingram, B-West and Shady running all sorts of zigs and zags up and down NFL fields and turf. Imagine the possibilities!!
I think this scenario is more plausible than some I-Formation run-and-smash ground assault. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see more basic offensive sets, but I can’t envision a Reid-coached team going in that direction. It’s just not in his X and O vocabulary.
One final thought. If this Patriots-like spread attack does appear at some point in 2009, I would say it’s safe to assume this could be a glimpse into the the future. Need I remind you there is a young signal caller waiting in the wings who excelled in a similar style offense while attending the University of Houston. Fans might not be happy or ready to admit it, but the Kevin Kolb era is coming sooner than later. The pieces are already being assembled. But that’s another topic for another day.