Now that the nightmare that was the 2011 season is over, we can finally start the healing process. Thankfully the team saved us from any more pain in the last 4 weeks, now we just need our wounds to be healed.
This year hurt a lot more than any other season, because the expectations were so high after how we played last year and the additions we made to our defense. But unfortunately, this lockout shortened off-season along with too many changes and unhappy player(s) caused the perfect storm for this meltdown.
I'd just like to move on from this year and start fresh. Almost like it never happened. Get ready for free agency and the draft along with a brand new d-coordinator. We can say that the addition of both Mudd and Washburn were positives this past year along with the additions of Babin, Jenkins, Nnamdi and DRC. I expect a lot more from Nnamdi, but to be fair, there was a lot thrown at him early in a brand new defense and team. Looking for a lot more from him this upcoming season. And I think we were all encouraged by what we saw out of DRC today against the Redskins, so looking forward to seeing him play a full season at LCB next year.
If Andy Reid wasn't on notice before, I'm sure he's been put on notice after this year, that anything less than a deep run in the playoffs next year won't fly. And Andy knows the weaknesses on his team and I'm sure Roseman and Andy will address that this off-season thru their picks and hopefully free agency as well. Gone will be Vince Young, Ronnie Brown and Steve Smith (hopefully), along with Asante Samuel (owed $9.5 mill in 2012), Winston Justice (owed $4.25 mill in 2012) and Juqua Parker (with Graham expected to be full strength).
The two biggest needs are at LB and Safety. I just don't feel comfortable going with the status quo at safety, although all 3 safeties are supposed to be better next year. I think with Kurt Coleman what we see is what we get. Nate Allen (due to injury) and Jaiquan Jarrett (due to inexperience) are still unknowns. I would like an addition thru free agency, someone who is starting caliber and can contribute right away, I'm not sure who fits that mold or if the Eagles will be just happy coming back with what they have at that position, you would think they would address a need there.
The LB position is the MAJOR need here, with this Jim Washburn scheme, let's get LB's that can fit the mold to succeed in this defense. With the right LB's this defense can be that much more potent. Not sure what the Eagles will do here. If we draft a LB high, will he be ready to play this year and contribute at a high level ? I think they will also go the free agency route and make sure they are set at LB for next year. I don't think they want to go through the same fiasco at that position that they had to go through this year. So draft a LB high and get a top LB through free agency, and that should be enough. We know at least Chaney, Rolle and Matthews will be back, but other than that, it should be open competition for the other 3 spots to fill the approximate 6 LB's they would keep on the roster. Stephen Tulloch, who they should have added this year, should be available again through free agency, not sure how he did this year, but he's a LB that's played in the wide-9 scheme with the Titans and would be a nice fit if he's still performing at a high level, but I'm sure there are other options out there as well. In terms of draft, there have been some names thrown out there like Kuechly, Burflict, etc. Let's see if the Eagles invest a high round pick on a LB this year, that's the great unknown. Out of all the years, this might be the year the Eagles might start valuing the LB position and draft high, let's hope so.
If they come out of the off-season addressing the LB and S positions, than our defense will be that much more sound next year. I'm sure they'll address other needs as well, as they should, but these two positions seem to be high priority. I have a feeling they might also get a Qb high in the draft again, someone to groom for the future, not sure if Mike Kafka is the answer at backup Qb now, or the future Qb of this team. It would be nice to have a really good backup with Vick's style of play and chances of getting hurt, I think they'll address this as well at some point here. Other than that, there are no urgent needs, Evan Mathis should be re-signed, fortifying our o-line, and I'm sure they'll continue to add depth and build for the future with the draft. Believe it or not, this team is in good shape in terms of the talent level and the depth that we're building here. I'm looking forward to seeing that continue this off-season.
Can't wait for the free agency and draft to come around. After the horrible wait we had to go through last year, it will be nice to see everything happen timely this year. With a full set of ota's, mini camps, training camp and pre-season, this team should be ready to go for next season.
I think Andy Reid realized the mistake he made with Castillo, he'll never admit it publicly, but he'll prove it by not bringing him back next year as the d-coordinator (we can only hope and pray). DeSean Jackson should be back for at least one more year with the tag and we'll go from there, I guess. Although 2011 was a downer, I think this team has a bright future ahead of them. They went out and got a lot of good players in free agency, and sometimes things don't gel right away, especially with the lack of time this team had together before the season started. I know we're all down about this year, but the best thing to do is put this behind us and move on to the next season. So let the Mock Drafts begin (I know they already started like half way into the season but it's hard to really focus on them in the middle of a season) and let's have some fun with this off-season. Until September rolls around again, and the real games begin, there's not much else we can do. Here's to a great off-season and a chance to redeem ourselves this year. Andy, you're still in charge of this ship, get us to our destination, we can't take much more of this....