Okay, so far so good. If you've lost track, fallen asleep for 12 months and just woke up, or if you just didn't give a damn, the eagles are back in the march towards another season. For those of you who have a brain that blocks out the excessively painful memories, 2011 was an off-season of great promise and lousy delivery. We shopped until we couldn't shop anymore, and then we shopped some more. We both everything on the wish list. We got veterans, and rookies. We failed to do just one thing.
We forget about Andy's time management issue. It seems in the course of our feeding frenzy, we forgot that all the new pieces had to be assembled. And Juan was new to the job, so he didn't have a great deal of experience to draw upon.
So we played, we failed, we learned we failed some more.
And here we are in the 2012 off season, with the same "OMG! We are loaded THIS year!" Well, before we get too far into our hot air balloons again, let's face the good, the bad, and the uglee facts. We'll do that after the break:
The good is we didn't let the wrong guys go this year. We actually RE-SIGNED someone?! Yes, and it was our big play making WR Desean Jackson. We had one of the leagues best defensive front 4, and now with two more pieces (plus re-signing ANOTHER guy, Landri), we are even more poised to rock NFL offensive lines and quarterbacks. We resigned yet ANOTHER guy in Mathis, whose return has greatly minimized the devastating loss of Jason Peters at our LT spot. We did act fast and pick up Demetrius Bell, who should do well under the keen eye (and loud booming voice) of Mudd. Our offensive line should shape up into another league leading performance, and that means our guy Shady McCoy will have another 1000 yard season! (tough to remember when we didn't get those from our RB's now, isn't it?)
The bad play of Ronnie Brown, Vince Young, and a host of wannabes is a thing of the past. We allowed another large number of eagles players to contribute elsewhere. In the salary cap world, teams are forced to jettison the players who do not play at or above their contract value. They can and will show up on other rosters, but their contribution was, er... less than hoped for.
The uglee? The uglee was a team that thought it just had to show up and it would win. The team didn't.
So how do we prevent that?
(1) Rely upon the leadership. Cullen Jenkins and Evan Mathis quickly became fan favorites - not only due to their play - but with their heartfelt honesty. They didn't sugar coat the season. They talked to fans as though we know the game of football (many do). We have to rely upon these no nonsense guys to keep the eagles focussed on winning the next game, and less about the pundits and the forecasts that tell them how great they are on paper.
(2) Get Vick back to 2010 form. Let's face it, the most nervous part of any eagles fan thinking right now is - will the real michael vick please stand up? Was it the 2010 can't be stopped version, or the 2011 can't get the offense going in the 4th quarter version? I think it's going to shift back to 2010 for these reasons:
Vick assumed calling the blocking schemes for the first time in 2011 in a short season with a new set of offensive linemen virtually each week. It wasn't until watkins came in that we finally settled in on our starting 5 in the line.
Mudd gets a full offseason to work with Vick. Get out that stopwatch! We need Vick to set his internal clock to toss or pull the ball down and fly in time to avoid so much pressure. Mudd can help by drilling Vick on the timing until it becomes 2nd nature.
The eagles allowed VY to go, and without a clear qb breathing down his neck, Vick has the team all to himself. so there is no sharing the reps with anyone.
(3) Fix that linebacking situation. We cannot and should not annoint the LB positions to anyone before they play for us. Much like Mudd with OL slots, work our linebackers to the point where we are playing our best 3. I expect DeMeco Ryans will anchor that group, and we need him to call the shots - get the kids ready to play. In position. Tackling !
(4) Safety - don't be coy. if all that cap is intended for players on the roster, so be it. Don't be waiting for a guy to meet the ask price to make our team. Yes I think Allen and Coleman will have improved over the offseason. But don't mess with chemistry once we start building it.
(5) If anyone gets too cocky, point them to the 4-8 fiasco from last year and quickly remind them that we fans won't forget.
The eagles have the potential to come out and play some good football. We might just lay an egg tho.
The difference makers will be to look at last year and do more than admit to the press or talk to yourself that we didn't get it right back then.
How are we changing things this year to improve our outcome?