Nobody wanted to imagine life without any of the "big three" on offense. Imagining life without Terrell Owens
, Donovan McNabb
and Brian Westbrook
was an impossible vision. In all honesty, it's somewhat surprising that the Eagles have put together the kind of season that they have without those weapons and many others.
Depth is a key to winning in the NFL though and it's something that the Eagles need to consider, because they didn't get a lot of help from their backups when they were needed.
The loss of a top receiver and the starting quarterback is especially tough to swallow. It's hard to judge the young receivers when they don't have an experienced quarterback to get them the ball and it's tough to judge Mike McMahon when he hasn't got the best weapons to throw to. Plus, the absence of a passing game hurt the young backs who were looking to fill in for Westbrook and the absence of a running game further hurt the receivers and quarterback. Even considering that horrible sort of domino effect, let's take a look at what we've found out about the depth of the Eagles at these three key spots.
First, the Eagles have to consider whether Todd Pinkston can become the main man on their receiving corps. Pinkston was among the early injuries when he ruptured an achilles tendon and was lost for the season in early August. Pinkston was figured on to be a nice compliment to Owens, but the jury is still out on whether he can be the top receiver for the Eagles.
Greg Lewis stepped in originally for Pinkston and has found himself as a starter in every game this season. While Lewis has been reliable, he hasn't shown the sort of front-line talents that the Eagles are looking for. Billy McMullen has been unspectacular this season, but has shown some signs of development.
Probably the nicest surprise among the receivers would have to be Reggie Brown. The undrafted free agent out of Illinois has shown that he's willing and able to take a hit and looks to have the talent that could eventually be turned into a pretty good NFL receiver.
The bottom line is that the Eagles have candidates for number two guys and reserves, but nobody that appears to be able to step up right now to be a prime-time player, no matter who the quarterback is.
In the backfield, Ryan Moats has garnered the most attention. Moats has shown the ability to make the occasional big play, but doesn't appear to be able to be the featured back for the Eagles. He's still young (23) and there is a lot to build on with Moats, but whether he can make a difference over the long haul remains to be seen.
Lamont Gordon and Reno Mahe are much like many of the receivers who appear capable of helping, but they don't appear ready to be a featured back and it's not likely that they will be able to do that down the road, either.
The Eagles definitely need to consider their future in regards to the quarterback depth chart. Mike McMahon has done all he could possibly do to win, but the talent just isn't there. McMahon's numbers don't even get himself into the same discussion as the average type of NFL quarterbacks and he seems to be one step behind the action. Andy Reid made the right decision in playing McMahon to find out what is there, but he hasn't been able to respond. It's unfortunate too, because perhaps if the offensive line were able to give him a little more time and if he had more weapons on the receiving corps and with a ground game, McMahon might have been better able to succeed. He's the type of quarterback that might be okay if he has all of his other weapons in place, but not if he has to improvise.
As for Koy Detmer, well, he's Koy Detmer. He's not going to bowl you over with his abilities, but he's not the worst backup in the league. Neither McMahon or Detmer appear to be able to run a team over the long haul if needed, although of the two, McMahon may be better equipped to develop into a more suitable backup.
Depth is a key part of successful teams. Injuries are a part of the NFL and the Eagles will need to improve their depth in key areas. That's something to consider as they look at what lies ahead in the off-season.
It's likely that no team could have withstood losing the likes of Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook among others and still fielded a competitive team. That being said though, the Eagles have to focus on building a deeper team during the off-season.
Team depth is something that the Eagles need to address during the off-season.