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Are The Eagles Really "Fine" at Receiver?

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 18:  Wide receiver DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles sits on the bench at the end of the NFC championship game against the Arizona Cardinals on January 18, 2009 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 32-25 to advance to the Super Bowl.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Patrick WallCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2009

By now, fans know the drill.

It happens every offseason. Once the ruckus of free agency dies down, right before the draft, a reporter asks head coach Andy Reid what he thinks about the team’s wide receivers.

Every year, it’s the same answer: “We’re fine at receiver.”

The ritual has become a joke for Eagles fans. Not since 2004 has the team had a true superstar receiver, and that was the year the team made it to the Super Bowl.

So far this offseason, the team has been linked to receivers like Torry Holt, Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin. Fans are salivating at the thought of Reid bringing a veteran receiver to the City of Brotherly Love.

But is a team’s passing attack really so important to winning a Super Bowl? For this, history will be the judge.

Since 2004, most Super Bowl winning offenses have been mediocre. Only one, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, has ranked in the top five of total yards.

The old adage of “defense wins championships” seems to have some validity. The average ranking of Super Bowl winning defenses since 2004 is eighth.

And in truth, the defense was the best unit for the Eagles last season. The team was ranked first in the NFC in total defense, and the unit was largely responsible for Philly’s postseason success.

Of course, it was also responsible for the no-show it gave during the title game in Arizona.

With Brian Dawkins gone, there are legitimate questions about how well the defense will play without its leader. While the veteran players dismiss the possibility of a letdown, results are shown on the field, not through the media.

Reid’s specialty has always been offense. His first-ever draft pick was a quarterback named Donovan McNabb. He has been responsible for creating one of the most explosive and consistent offenses of the past decade.

But the unit will have to step it up next season. Wideout DeSean Jackson has shown promise, and will have to continue that success. Kevin Curtis had an injury-plagued year in 2008, but had 1,000 yards receiving in 2007.

The team added a receiving threat in free agency with the addition of fullback Leonard Weaver. He is known more for his receiving skills than his lead blocking, a skill likely to be utilized next season.

The draft will likely answer some of the questions on offense, as the team has two first round picks. Given Reid’s draft history, it’s unlikely that the team will hang on to both. This has led to rampant Internet speculation about trades. Browns receiver Braylon Edwards and Arizona’s Anquan Boldin are the top choices among fans.

Ultimately, though, it will most likely be the Dawkins-less defense that makes or breaks the team next season. Added help for McNabb certainly wouldn’t hurt, though.

 

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