Eagles-Redskins: Mathis, DRC, Chaney Among Five Players to Watch


Editor’s note: Staff writer Steve Fini takes a look at five players worth watching during tomorrow’s season finale.

Michael Vick (QB/Eagles) – I’m going in a different direction this week with the “5 players to watch” column. Since this season is over, the focus will be on next season. That starts with Michael Vick. He’s played well since his return from injury a few weeks ago. He’s cut down on turnovers and has made better decisions with the football. But what has impressed me most about Vick is his vocal leadership. He’s done a great job keeping this team motivated despite enduring a nightmare start to the season.

I think part of the reason the Eagles struggled early was because Vick took a back seat. He put a stop to that upon his return and I think this is one thing the Eagles can truly build on heading into next season. With a roster that should remain very much in tact next season, look for a much more smooth transition heading forward.

Evan Mathis (LG/Eagles) – Mathis struggled at times, particularly early in the season, but it started to click once the line started to gel. A case could have been made for Mathis to make the Pro Bowl team. He’s athletic and run block once he gets a head of stea m. There’s no way LeSean McCoy would lead the NFC in rushing without Mathis. Center, right guard, and even right tackle might still be a bit of a concern for this team in 2012, but the left side of the line looks solidified. That is something we haven’t heard in Philly for a long time.

Jamar Chaney (MLB/Eagles) – I was almost positive that Chaney was going to surprise a lot of people this season and be a stud in the middle. It didn’t happen. Now, the Eagles must finally address a glaring need–linebacker. Chaney is a useful player and figures be on the roster next season, but I’m not comfortable with anointing him the starter if this team is serious about winning a championship. He’ll likely be in the mix, but the Eagles need a plan heading into this offseason. Sunday’s game is a good one to zero in on Chaney and see exactly what he can give the Eagles moving forward.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB/Eagles) – Here’s what we know about DRC–he’s not a slot corner. He’s too long and tall to play shorter, quicker receivers. But he played well on the outside. I’m not sure that Cromartie will ever be an elite player, but I think he’s an above average perimeter corner. The Eagles better hope so, particularly if they decide to part ways with Asante Samuel this offseason. The Eagles could elect to draft another corner, but with other areas of need, expect DRC to play opposite of Nnamdi Asomugha next season.

Desean Jackson (WR/Eagles) – There’s probably no player worth watching more than DeSean Jackson. He’s going to be the talk of the Eagles’ offseason. Will he be signed, traded, franchised? Only time will tell.

We do know that Jackson struggled without Vick the lineup for a few games, but realistically, he never got going this season. He didn’t have big games when the Eagles needed him most and really seemed to fit the “one trick pony” designation given by his detractors. Maybe this season helped him realize he should aim a little lower for his next contract. Probably not.

Either way, his fellow receiver Jeremy Maclin seemed to take steps forward this year and looks like a more complete receiver. The Eagles don’t negotiate well with big egos so it’ll be interesting all off-season to see what happens here.