It’s time to get excited Eagles fans. It’s that time of the year again. Hopes are high along with the expectations. And I am one Eagles fan that truly believes that big things are in store for this 2012 Philadelphia Eagles team. Now I’m not the type to make predictions. But I am on the edge of guaranteeing that this upcoming season will make 2011 feel like it was 40 years ago. And here’s why.
I think this years rookie class has great potential to build a strong foundation for the Eagles future. Especially on defense.
-LB Mychal Kendricks looks to be a flat out beast. He’s athletic and has that high motor that Eagles fans love to see.
-DT Fletcher Cox who is making strides so far in training camp and beginning to turn some heads. He has been impressive enough that Juan Castillo was comfortable enough to move veteran DT Cullen Jenkins to the left end position.
-DE Vinny Curry, who has a great inside move and is explosive off the edge. I think he will play a key role in this years defense.
-CB Brandon Boykin who is versatile and right now looks to be a strong contender to be the new punt returner for the special teams unit.
The offense seems to have some emerging surprises from this years rookie class as well.
– WR Marvin McNutt is taking advantage of Riley Coopers unfortunate collar bone injury and so far has quieted the Plaxico Burress to Philly talk. He is a big receiver at 6’3, 216lbs. If he keeps up his momentum then I think he stands a chance of being that redzone threat that the offense has been looking for.
– RB Bryce Brown has nothing guaranteed to him. He’s competing with fellow rookie RB Chris Polk for the 3rd RB roster spot. I love this kids motor. He’s a short yardage power back. My favorite kind. I’m looking for Brown to win his spot and improve throughout the season hopefully with his role increasing. I really like this kids game.
2011 Free Agent Class:
I’ve said this time and time again. I think last year’s off season hurt this team the most. Sure, it might not have mattered for some teams like the 49ers. But the thing about that is we aren’t the 49ers, we’re the Eagles. And when a team has the kind of turnover on the roster and coaching staff like we did without mini camps, OTA’s and any form of organized team functions then that stands to be a problem. The lockout was tragedy for the 2011 Eagles.
The 2011 free agent class that is still on the roster are DT Cullen Jenkins, CB Nnamdi Asomugha and DE Jason Babin are the key returners on what was a prized free agent class at the time. Jenkins emerged as a leader on defense while Babin was a sack machine and was an anchor on the d-line opposite Trent Cole. Asomugha was noticeably uncomfortable in his role but gained knowledge of the defense and confidence as the season went on.
One of the bigger topics that was discussed in 2011 was the CB situation with Samuel, Asomugha and DRC (acquired via trade with the Arizona Cardinals for QB Kevin Kolb). All three CB’s were used to being the #1 guy. DRC was played sparingly in the nickle corner spot which is something he struggled with all season long. Now that Asante Samuel is in Atlanta, Nnamdi and DRC are our guys at CB. Both are looking so much more improved from last season so far which excites me to no end.
Gone are RB Ronnie Brown, WR Steve Smith and most notably, QB Vince Young. These three I believe were the ones that gave the naysayers more laughable ammunition against us. Of Course the biggest knucklehead of the three is Vince Young. “Dream Team”. Need I say more? Good riddance to these three.
2011 Coaching Changes:
Out was DC Sean McDermott and in was former offensive line coach Juan Castillo. Wait, what? An offensive line coach being promoted to defensive coordinator? That was also a hot topic in 2011. But that move made it possible to bring coaching legend Howard Mudd to takeover the offensive line along with Jim Washburn as defensive line coach. But lines looked good the entire season because of the new coaches.
Juan Castillo was experiencing a sharp learning curve throughout the season like a lot of his players on defense. During the last four games when the Eagles closed out the season with four straight wins is when Castillo’s defense really began to look like it was legit.
– WR Desean Jackson finally got his contract extension that he wanted. It clearly affected his play and attitude last season. Now he can focus on football and nothing else.
– RB LeSean McCoy signed a 5 year contract extension
– T Todd Herremans signed 3 year contract extension
If you were to pick a down moment to this years offseason then it’s easy to say that losing T Jason Peters for the season is that moment. It’s tough to lose the best tackle in the game. But like many, I believe that the Eagles made a good move by trading for T Demetress Bell. He is not Peters, but he is a very suitable replacement. And so far is looking really good in camp.
My first initial reaction to Michael Vicks dynasty comment was “great, here we go again”. But as I thought about it his comment made more sense. He didn’t guarantee a dynasty. He simply stated that the potential is there with the great young players we have. I wish he wouldn’t have made the comment publicly, but he did. And us as Eagles fans have to live with it. I just say win one Super Bowl then we can talk dynasty.
So with the distractions from last year (Desean Jackson’s contract situation, Vince Young’s Dream Team comment, poor play) being eliminated means the sky is the limit now for 2012.
With all of that being said, I really think that this team has a strong chance to live up to the hype and expectations from 2011. The riff raff’s are gone, the new guys from last year have had an entire offseason together with which to build, improve and work together as one on and off the field. Like I said, I don’t make predictions. But I have high expectations this year.