Andy Reid wasted no time eliminating a QB controversy by signing Packer reserve Doug Pederson, who knows his system, to start. Koy Detmer did ignite a spark last season, but his poor arm strength and lack of size make him a prime candidate for a backup role in the NFL. Bobby Hoying has more of the tools, but his confidence was shot in '98, and he doesn't look like he has the composure to get the job done. Rodney Pete once again proved unable to produce consistently and will be fighting for a No. 3 spot.
Duce Staley rushed for 1,065 yards and showed some toughness as the starter when Charlie Garner was injured. Staley isn't real flashy in the open field but he has some good power. Garner is an explosive back with enough talent to be a starter in this league, but his inability to stay healthy has the team thinking long and hard about drafting Ricky Williams with the 2nd pick. FB Kevin Turner is average and his marginal blocking ability hurts the teams running attack. Look for impact upgrades at FB/RB in the draft.
Signing Indy's Torrence Small and Pittsburgh's Charles Johnson immediately established the starters and provide an instant upgrade the unit. Irvan Fryar's age finally caught up with him and he retired. Jeff Graham signed with San Diego and Freddie Solomon was lost to Cleveland via expansion. Young players like Dietrich Jells and Kevin McKenzie enter training camp to battle for backup positions. Look for a drafted WR to be added for depth.
Starter Jason Dunn has good size and speed but missed six games with two separate knee injuries and must improve his receiving skills. Andrew Jordan and Chris Fontenot are promising pass catchers that will have to battle in the pre-season for a backup spot. A complete TE addition would tremendously strengthen this unit.
This unit had problems most of the year, but finished the season strong. They allowed 56 sacks, but gave up just four in the last five games after mobile Koy Detmer became the starting QB. LOT Tra Thomas showed tremendous upside and should become a Pro Bowl lineman within the next couple of seasons. George Hegamin is slow-footed, but did an adequate job rotating with Jermaine Mayberry at the left guard position in the last four games. Center Steve Everitt and LOT Richard Cooper need to step their play back up to previous levels. If this unit can return to its end of the season form, the Eagles should feel confident. Expect quality depth to be sought in the draft to shore up a developing offensive line.
Re-signed LDE Mike Mamula was a torrid pass rusher but recent knee surgery might deprive him of a step. RDE Hugh Douglas had 12½ sacks, but didn't get the job done against the run and ultimately will become a pass-rush specialist. Gregg Jefferson was marginal at LDE in the absence of Mamula. Like the incumbent, Jefferson was also ineffective versus the run. RDT Bill Johnson, who was brought in to be the club's primary run stuffer, was a disappointment and must return strong from injury. At LDT Hollis Thomas showed good anchor ability and quickness versus the inside run, but needs to return to his '97 form to improve the defensive front. New England's Mark Wheeler was signed to shore up the Eagles run defense.
Undersized MLB James Willis consistently gave up too many yards up in the middle, making too many tackles down the field. Veteran ROLB William Thomas struggled through his worst season as a pro. LOLB James Darling was lost during free agency creating a void on the outside. Jeremiah Trotter is a young talent but needs to learn the defensive scheme before contributing. This unit needs some athletic players to upgrade the overall effectiveness of the defense.
Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor are solid corners that allow this defense to do a lot of different things. Zordich is 35 and already has played one year too long. Brian Dawkins, a potential Pro Bowler, is a very physical player that puts himself in position to make plays. Clarence Love and Allen Rossum are young talents that add depth and will possibly see significant playing time in nickel and dime situations. In February's expansion draft, the Browns took nickel back Tim McTyer, who played surprisingly well when Vincent and Taylor were injured.
The Eagles didn't waste any time creating competitive situations for next season. Veteran CFL star Tony Martino, who averaged a league-high 48.2 yards for Grey Cup champion Calgary, was brought in to compete with veteran Sean Landeta. Former Redskin David Akers was signed to battle incumbent Chris Boniol after two disappointing seasons since coming over from Dallas.