Schein's Nine: Eagles finally have WRs

BY foxsports • July 4, 2009

We are a month away from training camp. And just in case you missed it, the proverbial pendulum is swinging madly in the NFL.

  • Is it possible that the Eagles have the best wideouts in the NFC East?

  • Will the Bengals' offense outperform the Steelers this year?

  • Does Year 2 for Matt Ryan make Atlanta's offense better than the Panthers?

  • Are the Bills' receivers superior to the Pats?

  • Can the Jets' defense actually be more dominant than New England?

    Ahh, the classic debate of "mine is better than yours."

    We answer these burning questions and more while giving you strong opinions for answers in the latest SCHEIN 9 ...

    1. The Eagles' receivers are the best in the NFC East

    For all of the question marks at this position through the Donovan McNabb-Andy Reid era, and all of the dropped passes by Todd Pinkston and company, finally Eagles fans can rejoice in the truth of the above statement.

    And actually, it isn't even close.

    While I believe in guys like Cowboys receiver Roy Williams and Giants wideout Steve Smith even more than most, it's Andy Reid's crew that is the deepest and most dynamic group of pass-catchers in this incredible division.

    DeSean Jackson burst on the scene last year with 62 catches and 912 receiving yards. The home-run hitter is only getting better and has a budding rapport with McNabb.

    Reid and company brilliantly traded up to acquire Jeremy Maclin in the April draft. Jackson and Maclin have the same explosive qualities. With his hands, route running, speed and football IQ, Maclin will be an impact player, even as a rookie.

    Kevin Curtis has been underrated for years. He is 100% healthy after sports hernia surgery and I predict Curtis will lead the Eagles in catches this year.

    Jason Avant, with sure hands, will catch 45 passes this year and emerge as a McNabb favorite on third downs and in the red zone.

    Reggie Brown, thought to be the team's No. 1 receiver just 12 months ago, is nothing more than the fifth-best receiver on this year's team, but gives Reid serious depth. And if Hank Baskett is your No. 6 receiver, it shows the sheer strength at the position. You could easily make the case that Brown and Baskett could be third or fourth wideouts on depth charts in Dallas, New York or Washington.

    A key to this argument is watching the development of second-year receivers Devin Thomas and Malcom Kelly behind Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El in Washington. But looking into the crystal ball, I cannot buy into Jason Campbell's weapons.

    2. Take Bills' receivers over Patriots' receivers

    Randy Moss and Wes Welker are a better twosome compared to Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. But when you factor in depth, even with the excellent pickup of Joey Galloway and the draft steal of Brandon Tate, I swing that pendulum towards the Bills.

    You read that correctly.

    T.O. can be a disruptive force, but he is still a tremendous receiver. Look, he had a bad year in 2008 with 69 catches, 10 touchdowns and over 1,000 receiving yards. Geez, what a bad year. And he'll catch even more passes in Buffalo. Lee Evans is a major deep presence and will be a borderline Pro Bowler with T.O. on the other side. Josh Reed has excellent hands. Roscoe Parrish is a sleek weapon.

    Yes, I really did write that. Believe it.

    3. Falcons' offense will be better than Panthers' offense

    Sure, the Atlanta offense doesn't boast a Steve Smith or have a running back combination with the versatility of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

    But Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, the impact of Tony Gonzalez and one of the most underrated offensive lines in the NFL give the Falcons the edge.

    What will "Matty Ice" do for an encore after one of the single greatest rookie seasons at quarterback in NFL history? How about become even more dominant after general manager Thomas Dimitroff didn't rest on his laurels, dealing for one of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history? Ryan tossed 16 touchdowns last year. Having Gonzalez will equal at least 22 touchdowns this season. It will give Ryan the ability to work the middle of the field more. And with safety help rolling in Gonzo's direction, WR Roddy White will score over 10 touchdowns this year after last season's breakout stunning campaign of 88 catches and 1,382 receiving yards. And Gonzo still has at least three years left of playing at a Hall of Fame clip.

    Michael Turner literally ran with his first opportunity to be a bell-cow back, with just under 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns.

    Who needs Michael Vick?

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    4. Bengals' offense over Steelers' offense

    I did a recent video hit on the Pittsburgh offensive line and running attack. The offensive line, while it hit a wonderful stride in the three playoff games, is still weak. Willie Parker slumped last year. And while I believe in Rashard Mendenhall, he has to prove he can be the prototype Steelers' big back.

    The Bengals' line is much better with the drafting of tackle Andre Smith. Cedric Benson finished the season with back-to-back 100-yard games on the ground. I would call the running attacks pretty close to even, with Pittsburgh ahead but downgraded because of its spotty offensive line.

    But the real difference is on the passing attack. Sure, Ben Roethlisberger put himself on another level with his Super Bowl. But a now-healthy Carson Palmer is also in the top five. Pittsburgh has questions at the receiver position after super steady Hines Ward and explosive Santonio Holmes. Limas Sweed doesn't inspire anyone. Shaun McDonald isn't special. On the other side, Laveranues Coles will catch 90 passes from Palmer this year. Chad Johnson vows to bounce back. And the real key is Chris Henry, who has avoided off-field trouble. Henry is the real deep threat with great hands and has a strong connection with Palmer.

    Forget about last year's stats when Palmer was hurt and Ryan Fitzpatrick was 'playing' quarterback.

    Watch for it — Cincy's offense will be better than Pittsburgh's this year.

    5. I like the Cardinals' running attack over the Seahawks' backs

    No Edgerrin James, no problem.

    Polished rookie Chris "Beanie" Wells and Tim Hightower are a better combination than Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett. Hightower is the most physical of the bunch.

    Plus, Zona's offensive line is actually very solid and well-coached under Russ Grimm.

    Forget last year's rankings — with Wells, the Cards will be able to move the chains.

    6. Take Texans' defensive line over Titans' defensive line

    Albert Haynesworth has left the building. And finally, after years of defections on the defensive line where players who left Tennessee were easily replaced, the Titans' unit will dip. Kyle Vanden Bosch is an energizer bunny, but can't do it alone. I'm not sold on the Jason Jones/Tony Brown/Jovan Haye/Sen'Derrick Marks rotation at tackle.

    Meanwhile, Mario Williams is my early pick for Defensive Player of the Year. Houston made a tremendous offseason pickup with Cardinals' playoff hero and defensive end Antonio Smith. Travis Johnson has been a bust, but I will take him over what the Titans have to offer.

    The Texans finally have a defense that can contend.

    7. The best defense in the AFC East? J-E-T-S!

    And if you don't believe me, ask Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, who broadcast that statement to the world on our Sirius NFL Radio show. Actually, he thinks the Jets will have the best defense in the NFL.

    Prediction: Rhodes and David Harris make the Pro Bowl for the first time. Former Eagles CB Lito Sheppard gets back to his Pro Bowl form. The Sheppard-Darrelle Revis cornerback combination proves to be elite. Former Ravens safety Jim Leonhard becomes a household name. Last year's first-round bust Vernon Gholston gets at least eight sacks. That's how good Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will be. And they know how to use Calvin Pace, who was dropping back in coverage for some reason last year. Stud DT Kris Jenkins is healthy. General manager Mike Tannenbaum loaded up this defense with talent. Now he has the head coach to maximize it.

    New England has experience in its front seven, picked up CBs Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs and have the best defensive mind in football coaching the team. The Dolphins added DE Jason Taylor, S Gibril Wilson and re-upped their own key free agents. Buffalo boasts a great defensive line.

    But I'll take the Jets this year with their players, coaching and a brand, new attitude.

    8. Tampa's D is so yesterday, New Orleans' defense is today

    It just looks odd on the screen, doesn't it?

    Long-time Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has left the building. So has future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks. They are changing the scheme. And despite excellent players like future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber and the grossly underrated Barrett Ruud, this defense is in total transition.

    The Saints' defense is going to be much better this year.

    I mean it this time.

    New Orleans has a new attitude with new coordinator Gregg Williams now employing a blitzing scheme. Veteran safety Darren Sharper, first-round CB steal Malcom Jenkins and a healthy Tracy Porter improve the defensive backfield incredibly. When they come back from four-game suspensions, you can bank on DEs Will Smith and Charles Grant bouncing back from subpar seasons. The great Jon Vilma anchors the 'backers.

    Drew Brees with a little defense behind? Scary thought.

    9. Gimme the Niners' no-name offense over the Rams

    St. Louis still has some star quality with RB Steven Jackson and QB Marc Bulger. I loved the Jason Smith draft pick and the Jason Brown signing.

    But that's it.

    I mean literally, that's it.

    I'm not sure if that's a receiver corps or a witness protection program.

    And even with the additions of Smith and Brown on the offensive line, this group is still a relative mess. Tackle Alex Barron committed three penalties as you were reading this.

    San Francisco's Joe Staley will be the best offensive lineman of any of the 10 starters between the teams. I think he's headed to the Pro Bowl this year after the Niners smartly wrapped him up with a new deal. Former Steelers OT Marvel Smith was a good, solid pick-up.

    At running back, give me Frank Gore (too early to predict 1,700 rush yards?) over Jackson. At receiver, I'll take Michael Crabtree, Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, Brandon Jones and Arnaz Battle over Donnie Avery and friends. And while I am a huge Bulger believer, Shaun Hill won more games than the Rams' quarterback last year and will do so again this season.

    Check that: Barron just committed another false start.

    Your emails in response to the SCHEIN's NINE will be read on "video style" in the SCHEIN BOX.

    Adam Schein has joined the Twitter craze. Follow him and get the latest updates on his work at, SNY and Sirius NFL Radio at

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