Eagles offense suddenly has weapons to spare

October 14, 2009 3:11:01 PM PDT
It's a problem the Philadelphia Eagles thought they might never encounter: Too many weapons on offense. Season after season, the Eagles offense came down to Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. As they went, so went the Eagles.

But after a couple of fruitful drafts added talent at the skill positions, players such as Westbrook are suffering the consequences: fewer touches.

"We fought and fought to get more playmakers," the star running back said Wednesday. "Now we have them and one of the drawbacks is everything has to get spread out more."

All of a sudden the Eagles have Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and even fullback Leonard Weaver in the backfield; speedy young receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the outside; and slot receiver Jason Avant and tight end Brent Celek going over the middle.

And just one football to share.

In Sunday's 34-14 pasting of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Maclin was the star with six catches for 142 yards and touchdown grabs of 40 and 51 yards. Weaver, who arrived as a free agent in the offseason, also showed what he could do with a nifty 20-yard catch and run for a touchdown.

Celek leads the team in receiving with 26 receptions for 303 yards. Avant is averaging more than 11 yards per catch.

The Eagles did not miss a beat against the Bucs even though Jackson, who had consecutive 100-yard games against New Orleans and Kansas City, had just one catch for one yard against Tampa Bay. Westbrook touched the ball just eight times: six carries for 18 yards and a touchdown and two receptions for 17 yards.

"This past week there were a lot of plays called for Jeremy," Westbrook said. "In the past weeks there were a lot of plays for DeSean. At some point we're going to have to run the ball. At some point I'm going to get the ball again."

In the win over Tampa Bay, the Eagles' quick-strike offense allowed them to run a total of 48 plays - 21 runs and 27 passes. That's not a lot, especially in an offense where everyone wants the ball.

"We really didn't have the ball that much," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. "I think that was most of it. Brian is one of our best players; of course we want to get him the ball. Same thing goes for DeSean."

Reid said that he would continue to have Westbrook share time in the backfield with McCoy, a rookie second-round draft pick who also had eight touches last week - six carries for 14 yards and two catches for 15 yards.

The key is that each player capitalize on every chance he has to get his hands on the ball, Westbrook said.

"As a playmaker I want the ball more, we're all complaining we want the ball more," Westbrook said. "When we get it, we have to take advantage."

McNabb, who eventually decides who gets the ball, says it's not easy to keep everyone happy, but he'll try to find a way.

"I take pride in spreading it around," McNabb said. "Once the people here know that one week it's your week, the next week it's someone else's week, it's easy. And they know that if they do what they're supposed to do, they will be rewarded with the ball."

The Eagles (3-1) play at Oakland (1-4) on Sunday.

NOTES: Left guard Todd Herremans, out all of preseason and the first four games of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot, did some limited work in practice for the first time.

Herremans has targeted the Monday night game against Washington on Oct. 26 for his return. ... Wide receiver Kevin Curtis (knee) also returned to practice Wednesday ... McNabb said he would continue to wear a flak jacket to protect the broken rib he suffered in the opening game of the season at Carolina.

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