PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ike Reese is putting the pressure on this year’s Philadelphia Eagles for many years to come.
Reese, who now is a co-host on the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Birds in 1998 and entering his second season in ’99. It was the first season for head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb.
This season, the Eagles have a similar situation with first-year head coach Doug Pederson and rookie No. 2 overall pick QB Carson Wentz.
Reese, who is optimistic about the upcoming season following the Sam Bradford trade, says the 2016 team is better than his 1999 Eagles.
“They brought in DGB [Dorial Green-Beckham],” Reese said on Wednesday. “I think [linebacker] Stephen Tulloch is going to play a significant role before the season is over with, so I like the defense. Love our front-four, arguably the best in the league — certainly a top-five in the league. They’re gonna show that this year under [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz. Secondary has to hold up, receivers have to catch the ball. That certainly has to happen. Receivers have to catch the ball.
“Here’s the thing and I’ve said this time and time again,” Reese continued. “This team is better than the team I played on in 1999. It is.”
The 1999 Eagles started the season 0-4 and finished 5-11. McNabb, as a rookie, played in 12 games, but made just six starts. He threw for 948 yards, 8 TD’s, and 7 INT’s while rushing for another 313 yards.
Duce Staley, the Eagles’ starting running back in ’99, rushed for 1,273 yards and four touchdowns on 325 carries starting all 16 games. He also caught 41 balls for 294 yards and two scores.
The Eagles’ leading receiver was Torrance Small who caught just 49 balls for 655 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Chad Lewis played just six games in 1999, catching seven balls.
Defensively, the Eagles’ were stout with Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor at corner, Brian Dawkins at safety, Hugh Douglas at defensive end, Jeremiah Trotter as the middle linebacker, Hollis Thomas at defensive tackle, and of course Reese himself dominating on special teams (he recorded two forced fumbles in ’99).
This year, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz gets the starting nod right from the beginning. Bovada LV set his passing yards per game mark at 235 yards and his games started at 12.5.
Not only do the Eagles have a more talented and physically gifted lead back than Duce Staley in Ryan Mathews, they have a third-down explosive back and return man in Darren Sproles. And while the receiving unit is certainly a weakness for this year’s team, Jordan Matthews and Dorian Green-Beckham are significantly better than Small and Charles Johnson.
Zach Ertz, entering his fourth-season, with veteran leader Brent Celek backing him up, forms a strong tight end unit for this year’s Birds.
The Eagles are certainly weaker at corner and potentially linebacker, but at safety and defensive line the 2016 Eagles should be as strong — if not stronger — than the 1999 team.