We’ve already discussed the possibility of Julius Peppers or Jordan Gross being added to the mix next season. Now I want to talk about another guy, one I think will probably be the popular choice among Eagles’ fans: T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
And I’m just gonna come out and say it – I don’t really think he would make this team that much better.
Listen – I know he puts up solid numbers. Actually, really good numbers. Even last year, playing without Carson Palmer for most of the season, he still racked up 904 yards and four TD’s on 92 catches. In the past five seasons, he’s averaged 1,012 yards, 89 catches and 7 TD’s.
Damn good numbers, I admit.
But here’s the rub – the guy on the other side of the formation was Chad Johnson. Which meant that T.J. wasn’t attracting most of the double-teams. He wasn’t really the guy teams were game planning around. Is he a great possession receiver? Yeah. (Editor’s note: Yeah, well, Matt Jones is a possession guy, too). Is he reliable? Most certainly. Is he the kind of big-bodied, game-changing presence that Eagles’ fans yearn for?
Nah. That’s not his game.
Celek and Avant have kind of proven to be possession, safety-valve players for Donovan McNabb. Curtis stretches the field. DeSean Jackson does as well, besides offering you the athleticism to make plays in a number of ways. But none of these guys are going to go up and consistently make the tough catch on the fade. None of these guys are going to bruise through tackles after the catch, or physically brush the jam aside, or even demand the double-team.
And neither will Houshmandzadeh.
But he probably will demand a big contract on the market, and I think the Eagles could spend their money more wisely somewhere else. And yes, I still think that Anquan Boldin would be a great fit for this team, and yes, I would still love to see them swing a deal for him, and no, I don’t think it will actually happen.
Hey, I can dream, right? Because I really think he would be the perfect fit for this offense. Ah, well.
But what if the Eagles go out and sign T.J. to play wide receiver in Philly – am I going to complain? No, most certainly not. I mean, the guy is a football player, and he will instantly be a consistent target for McNabb, along with being a safe bet to catch 80 balls next season. (Editor’s note: There’s a joke hiding in there, but I can’t quite cup my hand around it…) But he won’t really create mismatches for the opposing defense, either. In my humble opinion, he would just be an upgrade to the role Avant and Celek were already playing in this offense during the playoffs.
I’m willing to consider that I’m underestimating Houshmandzadeh’s talents, at least slightly. But honestly – when you think about what the Eagles need offensively, does he fit the bill? I would argue their needs are as follows: offensive tackle and/or line depth, physical and durable running back who can get the tough yards and spell Westbrook, upgrade at tight end, gamebreaker wideout, and alternative QB of the future, in that order.
Yeah, I know what you’re going to focus on from that list, and no, I don’t think they should say goodbye to Donovan just yet. That being said, I’m not a Kevin Kolb enthusiast, either – I just don’t see it. I’ll grant that the oppurtunities to evaluate him have been limited, but in those oppurtunities, he didn’t do it for me. I would not be surprised in the least to see Andy Reid draft another QB with a pick in the first three rounds.
Hell, I doubt I’d even stir.
So, all in all, I just don’t see T.J. Houshmandzadeh being the best fit for this team, and I don’t expect it to happen. Now, if they could get a certain teammate of his to promise he would be a good, silent soldier, I would totally support the Eagles swinging a deal to bring him in. And after his tumultous offseason last year, and a 2008 campaign that saw his numbers drop, Chad Eight Five might just be had at a discounted price…
Stay tuned. (Editor’s note: Oooh, the super cliche “To be continued” finish – why, Mr. Pundit sir, I tremble with anticipation).