In what has become a busy week for the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense has become arguably the best in the NFL. Contract extensions were given to all pro Left Tackle Jason Peters, Center Jason Kelce, and Receivers Jermey Maclin and Riley Cooper. These off season moves have put the Eagles one step closer to their ultimate goal, winning a Super Bowl. And are now set on one side of the football. Now it’s time for the team to direct their focus to the other side of the ball, the defense. This free agency period and upcoming draft should be used to bolster their defense.
The defense around this time last year was surrounded by uncertainty. New coaching staff and new scheme, switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4, put this defense in a transition period. Some players, as a result, were let go and many new players were brought in to fit the scheme. Many new faces were plugged in and gave the Eagles a whole new look to their defense. Everyone knew the defense would go through growing pains and would also hold the Eagles back. This was new to Eagles fans. The fans had to accept the fact that gone are the days of late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins. The team had to start from scratch and rebuild.
At the start of last season the Eagles defense was terrible, and ranked one of the worst defenses in the league. Giving up ridiculous numbers to teams like the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and under performing to an overrated Kansas City Chiefs team. The Eagles went 1-3 during that stretch and could’ve easily turned that record around if the defense were at least average. But as the team got comfortable down the stretch the defense turned the corner and played as well as they could’ve. The defense even put up a 9 game strecth of allowing 21 points or less. But the defense still had glaring holes and at times still cost the Eagles games. (Playoff game vs. the New Orleans Saints). This offseason the Eagles need to address the defense if the team really wants to take the next step into turning into a contender.
The Safety position is a huge need for the Eagles. Since the departure of Brian Dawkins, the team has had an almost laughable amount of players who have tried but failed at the Safety spot. This coming draft and free agency period should be used to finally stop the years of torment and plug this position. Players like T.J Ward from Cleveland and Jairus Byrd from Buffalo will be the top targets in free agency. And in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, players like Calvin Pryor and Haha Clinton-Dix should be taken if available. And depth at the Corner position is a big concern as well. This will surely be addressed through the draft. Not to mention the lack of a consistent pass rush the Eagles need to fill this void as well. At first glance this seems to be a long to-do list, but there is hope, and salary cap space, that the Eagles organization can get this done. The team doesn’t need to break the bank like they did in the 2011 offseason, but rather sign and draft players that fit, work hard and want to win a championship.
The Philadelphia Eagles have made all the right moves thus far, but they now need to get the defense in a position to succeed under Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis. If the team can accomplish this goal to upgrade the defense, the Eagles will look formidable come the regular season. There’s a special feeling in the team and fan base. This team can contend for a championship if the right focus and moves are made to make the Eagles a more complete team.