Sunday, September 03, 2006

Eagles Have No Room For Being Sentimental

Eagles coach Andy Reid has always appreciated players who have helped him win, but as he has shown this preseason that the moment he thinks somebody can't aid the effort, that player is gone. And rightly so.
From the 2004 team that won the NFC title before losing to New England in the Super Bowl, the Eagles return just five players on offense who started at least four games. Those back are tackles William Thomas and Jon Runyan, tight end L.J. Smith, who started eight games in 2004, running back Brian Westbrook and quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Gone from that offense are receivers Terrell Owens and Todd Pinkston, guards Artis Hicks and Jermaine Mayberry, center Hank Fraley, tight end Chad Lewis (who started nine games), fullback Josh Parry (who made four starts) and wide receiver Freddie Mitchell (nine starts).
That's a pretty significant turnover for such a short period of time. On defense, most of the unit remains in tact, although defensive linemen Corey Simon and Derrick Burgess and linebackers Mark Simoneau (13 starts) and Nate Wayne (who made seven starts) are gone.
Of all the people who are gone, the only ones who could help the team now are Owens (although he had to leave after pulling the team apart last year) and Burgess, who could never stay healthy for long stretches when he was with the Eagles. Simon has had weight and injury problems with Indianapolis and the feeling persists that his best football was played in Philadelphia.
So Reid has done a good job of turning the roster over, while still producing a team that should be more than competitive in the difficult NFC East.
Teams that fade from contention are often ones that stick with their players too long. One reason the Eagles have been successful (minus last year's 6-10 disappointment) is that Reid has usually known the appropriate time to give a player walking papers.
And now he has made this year's team much younger and it says here better, by getting rid of Fraley, Pinkston, Parry, Koy Detmer and Simoneau just in the last week.
Most of the moves that Reid and general manger Tom Heckert look good on paper. Now of course the Eagles have to go out and prove on the field that this is a playoff team.