Thursday, May 03, 2007

Eagles have made a couple big moves

By Tim McManus
The Phanatic Magazine

As is the nature of a famished sports town, the offseason is a time to criticize and criticize unmercifully.

Not that the Eagles don't invite it to a large degree. Suggesting that the team doesn't have any weaknesses as Sean Considine mans a key defensive slot, for example, warrants the ire of an intelligent fan base.

While focusing on the selection of Kevin Kolb or the neglect of the secondary, though, a very positive development is going unnoticed -- the Eagles' decision to beef up.

If you can rewind to your wish list at the end of last season (and likely several seasons prior), I'd bet that it included the following:

1) A big, between-the-tackles running back to complement Brian Westbrook;

2) A heavier defensive line that could impose its will and shut down the run; and

3) A bigger, more physical linebacking corps.

Say what you will, but the organization has spent this offseason addressing exactly those issues.

The need for a big back has been the single largest point of contention between fan and regime over recent times. But with the addition of the 6-foot-2, 233-pound Tony Hunt in the third round of the draft, that standoff is over. The Eagles conceded the point, and brought someone in (a Penn State product no less) that will completely change the dynamic of a 3rd-and-1.

“Basically the ‘big back’ role- the role I played my whole college career. That’s what I can do,” Hunt said. “I just go after the yards that other guys kind of don’t want to get.”


Before selecting Hunt, the Eagles drafted Notre Dame defensive end Victor Abiamiri. How his talent translates to the pros is still up for debate, but the game tape shows a stout, physical lineman that is equally adept at stopping the run as he is at getting to the quarterback. In other words, exactly what you asked for.

“I think I have a good combination of size, speed and power that lets me be versatile enough to be an every down defensive end,"Abiamiri said. "I can play the run, pass and you don’t have to take me off the field in any situation.”

And there is no denying that the linebacker position -- ignored for far too long -- was revamped.

Stewart Bradley -- picked by the Eagles in the third-round -- may not be a household name, but is a 6-4, 250-pound 'backer that is known for his strength and tackling ability. And he comes out of Nebraska, which knows a thing or two about facing the run.

Takeo Spikes is also in the fold, and Chris Gocong -- a defensive end in college -- is slated for a starting role. Suddenly, the linebacking corps doesn't seem so undersized and weak, does it?

Check, check and check.

These changes used to be not just suggested but demanded by Eagles' faithful, and now that they have come, there hasn't even been a nod of recognition.

That needs to be given, even if it's while catching your breath between complaints.

Tim appears on this page every Thursday. He can be reached at

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