At this point, without much talk about the Philadelphia Eagles and their mini-camps, there has been talk about the Philadelphia Eagles wanting to sign Plaxico Burress once free agency is open. Burress will be released on in another week on June 6, and he already has teams intending on signing him. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that veteran wide receiver Plaxico Burress will be reinstated and can play this season whenever the work stoppage is resolved. I have to disagree with head coach Andy Reid‘s decision, as Plaxico Burress is more of an indulgence than a necessity into this upcoming season (if it starts). Statistically, the Philadelphia Eagles already have potent wideouts, and adding another, even as reserve, can be best filled with another player on defense or the offensive line.
The Philadelphia Eagles were ranked 9th overall in yards passing during the 2010 season. DeSean Jackson, Eagles primary wideout, was ranked 15th overall in terms of total receiving yardage, and Jeremy Maclin was ranked 19th in terms of total receiving yardage. DeSean Jackson did lead in one stunning statistic during the 2010 regular season. He led the league with an average of 22.5 yards per reception. According to Football Outsiders, the Philadelphia Eagles were ranked 14th overall in touchdowns per red zone appearance in the 2010 season and had an 18.5 percent touchdown conversion percentage.
This may not entirely be the wideouts’ responsibilities however. Several pertinent issues hung on the Philadelphia Eagles offense during the regular season. First, although Michael Vick improved compared to his tenure as an Atlanta Falcon, his quarterback ability declined from week 13 against the Houston Texans with a 1o3.4 quarterback rating on 2 touchdowns, an interception and 302 passing yards. It could be debated that his decline started earlier after the dominance of the Washington Redskins in week 10 with a 150.7 quarterback rating on 4 touchdowns and 333 passing yards. He ultimately collapsed significantly with a 79.9 quarterback rating when the Philadelphia Eagles fell the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wild Card game. Partially it was from defenses catching onto Michael Vick, partially it was from Michael Vick carrying the entire team himself when there was no need, and partially it was from Michael Vick’s tendency to rush in the latter part of the season. Second, the Eagles became one-dimensional as Michael Vick often rushed as often if not more than running back LeSean McCoy. With Michael Vick as the helm, if the teams covered the wideouts in a Cover 2 shell, the defenses forced Michael Vick to throw into traffic or rush out of a collapsing pocket. Vick often chose the latter since he did not often lean on his running back or his tight end Brent Celek too often. Overall, the Eagles offense could have been considered a one-trick pony, and a one-trick pony doesn’t usually win Super Bowls.
Adding Plaxico Burress, he has been out of football since 2008, and he will require adaptation to the strenuous training and physicality involved. Discounting his 2008 season with the New York Giants, he had an above-average 2006 and 2007 seasons. In his 2006 season, he had 988 receiving yards (which was ranked 20th overall), 10 touchdowns and averaged 15.7 yards per reception. Compared to his 2006 season, he had a slightly better 2007. In 2007, he had a 1,027 receiving yards (which was ranked 21st overall), 12 touchdowns and 14.6 yards per reception. Granted Plaxico Burress had Eli Manning as his quarterback and under the run-heavy offense of New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, even with the change in scenery with the Philadelphia Eagles, he might show small signs of improvement, but his talent pales in comparison to either DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin even in his prime.
However, this may be Andy Reid’s test of Plaxico Burress’ worth in free agency more than anything else. However delusional the “personnel” may be towards Plaxico Burress, Burress’ talents would be better spent on another team, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Seattle Seahawks for sake of argument. Or quite possibly Burress is another gamble for Andy Reid, like he did with Michael Vick. If this is Reid dipping again into the redemption pot, lightning might not strike twice. And it may hurt the Philadelphia Eagles team than benefit them.