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Morning Extras: How Important is Depth?

Jan 25, 2008, 7:03 AM EDT

DepthHeading into the season, there were a few question marks about the Eagles team that really stuck out. The first was the lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Second was an overabundance of talent at the cornerback position.

In other words, one of the issues that had befallen the Eagles heading into the season at a key position was, in fact, too much depth. The issue with the Eagles perceived depth at that cornerback spot was that for the first time since T.O., the Birds brought in a big ticket item, this time slated to patrol the defensive backfield instead of a player that had been a starter, had been to the Pro Bowl and felt he was warranted a starting spot.

So it wasn’t so much the depth that was an issue, but rather the lack of a defined roll for each of the players. Andy Reid refused to say who the starter would be opposite Asante Samuel, saying rather that it was an open competition and both Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard (sorry, LiTo) will play and could start. It was BS. We knew it, Lito knew it and most importantly, perhaps trouble-brewing superagent Drew Rosenhaus knew it.

Depth was looked at as a problem. That said, the lack of depth at basically every other position on the field, has shown to be a much bigger problem.

The Eagles could be a good team. There is still an off possibility the Eagles can win their last five games and finish the season 10-5-1. Anything can happen in the NFL from week to week. However, it doesn’t seem like the Eagles have been prepared when a player goes down or isn’t performing well and needs to be replaced.

In other words, they lack depth.

The glaring lack of depth had never been more obvious than going into a physical road football contest against a bruising defense with two running backs on your active roster. And, with Brian Westbrook banged up all season and oft-injured Correll Buckhalter as his backup, there had to be an inkling that by the second half, you could have zero healthy running backs on your roster.

Here is the Eagles depth chart. Is there anyone listed on the Second String that you’d feel comfortable stepping into an increased role on the starting squad? DeSean Jackson is still listed as second-string, but he’s the only player at the wide receiver position who seems to have any exceptional skills. Brent Celek had one nice game. Akeem Jordan made some tackles last week. And the aforementioned Sheppard.

But looking down the line, it seems that the most glaring issue is a lack of depth everywhere. Your starting fullback is also your second-string defensive tackle. Your backup fullback was on the scrap heap three weeks ago. You have no backup at left tackle, even though your left tackle is listed on the injury report. You have six linebackers on your roster and only one (your third string weak-side LB who was signed mid-way through the season) has more than three years experience in the league. There are the right number of players on the roster, but how many of them can play to the level they are expected…or needed?