If you haven't heard the news, the Philadelphia eagles are loaded with questionmarks. Quarterback, Defense, scheme. And the national media, so often eager to find some "anti-Eagles
" angle, has jumped on the eagles lack of star power on the defense and pretty much put us in the "nothing worth talking about" pile. That's fair.
After all, we were the team that went on perceived spending sprees in the last years of Andy Reid. We picked up Nnamdi Asomugha
, Cullen Jenkins
, Jason Babin
, Ronnie Brown
, DRC. Even Vince Young
came amidst optimism and controversy. And just a few years later, they are gone, leaving only the bitter taste of a few catch phrases hurled our way by the ever watchful trolls.
And this year, we had a chance to repeat that process. We had so many begging us to keep Nnamdi, and bring Revis in, and we'd be fixed! Just one more star, just one more signing, just one more story for the national media. But in the midst of all of this, someone got wiser. Was it Howie, who saw his name frequently associated with that of Monty Hall - the "let's make a deal" host? Was it Jeff Lurie, who'd had his fill of the "fool's gold" and wanted a change of strategy? Was it newly arriving Chip Kelly, who has a penchant for preparedness and customizing the strategy to suit the strength of the players at hand? Whatever the reason, we are not chasing the stars anymore. And that, reads ESPN, NFL Network, and SI, is why this eagles defense will fail miserably. If Nnamdi and DRC cannot make a go of it here... what chance do no names like Williams, Fletcher, Marsh, Hughes, Boykins, and Poyer have?
The season is not yet begun, and yet I feel pretty optimistic that the sky is not falling on Philly this year. Why?
Stars bring certain expectations. They like to do things that keeps them in the spotlight looking like a star. Asante like to jump routes, but was a sucker for the double fake. Nnamdi liked to hand off to a safety - whether or not the safety was in position to pick up coverage. DRC simply was outclassed by an orange pylon in tackling ability.
They are all "stars". They are all darlings of ESPN, NFL, and SI. Yet they simply did what they wanted to do, and no more.
With 2013, the eagles go with no stars. But this may be the first time in many years that the players will play the scheme as it is coached, as it is drawn up. Many cite the eagles DBs from history under Andy Reid as pro bowlers... but they grew up in this system. They played the way it was coached. In short, none had "other ideas" of how things should go. They all played as a cohesive unit.
This year we will see what the eagles can do as a cohesive unit. There are few reconizable names, and fewer standouts. But I am confident in this bunch. We may not be a top ten defense this year, but I do not expect any moments where I will need to avert my eyes from the TV screeen because it is too ugly to watch. I am looking forward to this bunch of nonames taking the field in an eagles uniform. They will have only each other to rely upon. In a time when sports have taken on a singular and individual taste, I think this group will prove to the NFL why it's a team sport.