Friday, October 9, 2009

Old and Older

Two weeks ago when the Eagles defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 34-14, their starting quarterback was 25 years old, their starting running back 21 and their starting middle linebacker 25. Come Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their starting quarterback will be 32, starting running back 30 and, if this is true, their starting middle linebacker 32:

It could be that the Eagles aren't quite sure, until they evaluate Trotter's first week of practice, exactly how much they can use him Sunday, though Gaither and Trotter both indicated Trotter is scheduled to start.

The Eagles just got older. And they're hoping they'll get better.

The question is, did they? Given the players involved, you have to believe so, at least offensively. Kevin Kolb filled in admirably against the Saints and Chiefs, becoming the first quarterback ever to pass for more than 300 yards in his first two career starts, but he also threw three interceptions against New Orleans and was not tested whatsoever against one of the worst teams in all of football in Kansas City. McNabb is a proven winner, and the Eagles are at their best with No. 5 under center. There's no question about that.

And Brian Westbrook, simply put, is a game-changer. Yes, injuries have slowed him down, but even at half speed late last season, Westbrook was a big-play threat and matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Getting him on the field is always a plus, no matter his age. Maybe he can't do it for 30 plays anymore, but when he's on the field, the defense still has to account for him. And with LeSean McCoy in the fold and looking ready for some big action — provided he takes care of that fumbling problem — it affords the Eagles more opportunity to keep Westbrook fresh and capable of making the impact we've grown accustomed to.

Then there's Jeremiah Trotter. The notion that Trotter is going to start in his first game in almost two years is beyond mind-boggling. Now I know the Eagles aren't thrilled with Omar Gaither's lack of physicality, but if memory serves me correctly, Gaither was the guy the Eagles preferred over Trotter last time around. Why now, at 32 with chronic knee problems, would the Eagles think things have changed for the better? If anything, wouldn't you believe he's lost yet another step, that he'll become an even bigger liability in pass coverage? I just don't understand it. And I really don't understand starting him.

For starters, Gaither is coming off a pretty good game, albeit against the lowly Chiefs. But in that contest, Gaither led the Eagles in tackles and made more plays defensively than probably anyone else. In my opinion, he actually looked good out there. Meanwhile, Trotter hasn't been on a field in ages, and the Eagles are going to start him from the get-go? Why? Why not ease him in, see what he can do before throwing him out there in his old spot? From Comcast SportsNet to starting middle linebacker in two weeks. Seems like an unwise move to me.

Luckily, the Eagles are playing another dreadful team in Tampa Bay, so it's probably a great contest to get Trotter's feet wet. And things don't get much more difficult immediately after that, with trips to Oakland and Washington on the horizon, so Trotter can sort of work his way into game shape without really hurting the team if he's not up to speed (at least we hope). But it just seems like an act of desperation for a 2-1 team that is supposed to have Super Bowl aspirations. Call me pessimistic, but I don't see Trotter helping out all that much.

There's the talk that Trot can still play the first two downs to stuff the run, but how many teams in the league still play a predictable style of offense that routinely runs on first and second down? Certainly not the Eagles. In fact, pretty much no one. I don't see how opposing teams won't just see Trotter on the field and decide to throw the ball, attacking his major weakness. That could cause all sorts of problems for a defense that already has a hard time matching up with pass-catching tight ends and running backs coming out of the backfield.

I love Jeremiah Trotter. I really do. But he was finished two seasons ago. That much was clear. He wasn't the same hard-hitting, game-changing force that made multiple Pro Bowls and help lead this team as close to the Lombardi Trophy as its ever come. And he was worthless in coverage. Now they're asking him to somehow recapture that old Trotter, someone who had long since vanished when he was playing last, after he's spent more than a year-plus at home. I hope he proves me wrong, but I don't see how this will end well. I just don't.

Hopefully, 30 is the new 25. Otherwise, the Eagles may be in more trouble than any of us thought.

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

  1. Trots the Eagles Elton Brand, lost a step, but hasnt seen much or any game action for 2 years so people are hoping hes fresh