Aug 20, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tackle Todd Herremans (79) takes the field with his teammates during the preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Patriots 27-17. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
Just about everything went wrong for the Eagles last season. They were fortunate with the way they played and with the Max Jean-Gilles-size holes in their defense that they finished 8-8.
Clearly, they are hoping for better this season. So is everyone watching and rooting for this team. Nobody wants to to see a train wreck. We'll watch if it happens, but nobody hopes to see something that scary.
The question is: Are the Eagles are actually better? Is their roster vastly improved?
On the surface, we see they lost five Pro Bowl players (Asante Samuel, Jason Peters, Steve Smith, Vince Young and Ronnie Brown). They added zero. So is it possible their Week 1 roster is better this year than last? Let's take a look position by position.
2011: Michael Vick, Vince Young, Mike Kafka
Judgment: Better. Young may have been more proven than Foles is now, but both were in their first year in the Eagles system. Young is no doubt the slower learner of the two. He never grasped the Eagles concepts. Foles looks at home, and honestly can't be much worse than Young was in some of his fill-in starts.
2011: LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown, Dion Lewis
Judgment: Better. Ronnie Brown was shot, even though we didn't know it at the time. Brown and Polk are clearly an upgrade, and will not throw the ball backwards on a goal-line carry.
2012: Stanley Havili
2011: Owen Schmitt
Judgment: Worse. It might not matter since Andy Reid cares for the fullback almost as much as mixed greens. It's possible Havili is not an NFL player. Schmitt was solid.
2011: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Steve Smith
Judgment: Much Better. Maclin didn't have an offseason or training camp due to a mysterious illness last year and Jackson was consumed with getting paid. This year they're ready and in a much better frame of mind.
2011: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor
Judgment: Even. Neither has progressed or declined much in 12 months, although Celek may be a tad bit healthier entering the season.
Judgment: Much Worse. Jason Peters has been replaced by King Dunlap. That's one of the best offensive linemen in the entire NFL being replaced by a guy the Eagles weren't going to re-sign until Peters' Achilles bursted. It doesn't matter how much Watkins and Kelce improve in their second year, the Eagles' line is in much worse shape.
2011: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt
Judgment: Better. Even with Babin entering this season having not payed for a month, this year's group of DE's is stacked after Hunt's growth and Graham's return to health.
Judgment: Even. This year's quartet may have more potential, but Patterson was a proven, reliable starter. The jury is still out on whether Landri can replicate last season with an increased workload and what Cox will contribute as a rookie.
Judgment: Better. Even if Ryans can't play he's better than Matthews as a rookie starting at middle linebacker. Kendricks also could be the Eagles' first playmaking outside linebacker since Shawn Barber.
Judgment: Worse. Say what you want about Rodgers-Cromartie being out of position and Samuel not fitting Juan Castillo's defensive scheme. Last year's crew had more talent with Samuel on the roster.
2011: Jarrad Page, Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, Colt Anderson, Jaiquawn Jarrett
Judgment: Even. It's still unknown whether any of the names on this list are legit NFL starters.
2011: Alex Henery, Chas Henry, Jon Dorenbos
Judgment: Better. Henery and Henry in their second years should improve slightly.
Overall Outlook: The Eagles are worse at three positions (cornerback, offensive line and fullback), better at six (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker and specialists) and even at two (defensive tackle and tight end). The huge dropoff on the offensive line caused by the loss of Peters gets evened out by the huge improvement of the mindset of the Birds' star wide receivers entering Week 1.
The improvements for 2012 clearly outweigh the regressions. The Eagles have an improved roster heading into Week 1 of this season (kudos to GM Howie Roseman). They also can't have any worse karma. Everything that could go wrong, did last season. All signs point to a much better year for the Birds. Just how many more wins it will equate to? We'll just have to wait and see.