There are quite a few reasons to expect the Philadelphia Eagles to have a very different season in 2012. First and foremost, 2011 was a definitive "Murphy's Law" season. Every single thing that could have gone wrong, truly did go wrong.
Andy Reid had a division-winning team in need of a defensive overhaul. He decided that the remedy was switching to a wide-nine alignment on the defensive line. Then the next step was to have the defense run by the offensive line coach. And to top it all off, he wanted to do it without quality players at linebacker or safety.
It was a disaster and it may not be that great in 2012, but it has to be significantly better. The defense took a lot of heat for blowing five fourth-quarter leads, but over the course of those five awful quarters, the offense made more than its share of mistakes.
In those five quarters, the Eagles' offense managed to score a total of three points. If they would have managed to convert just one touchdown, the whole season would have been different. It also happens that in four of those five games, the fourth-quarter collapse coincided with a Michael Vick injury.
So yes, the Eagles were horrible last year, but their season in the cellar will be short-lived. Because Michael Vick will be more prepared and more available. Because Juan Castillo will be a little more seasoned. Because the Eagles appear to have a real middle linebacker in DeMeco Ryans. Not to mention, it's impossible to imagine the Eagles blowing another five fourth-quarter leads.
These aren't the only reasons, though. The Eagles will also not be branded as the "Dream Team" in 2012. They should be a more cohesive unit. It also helps that the Eagles share a division with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
But the biggest reason why the Eagles' stay in the NFC East cellar will be short-lived is the most obvious. To anyone not paying attention, the Eagles were out of the cellar before the 2011 season even ended. They finished second in the NFC East and a single game out of the playoffs.
No matter how 2011 turned out, the season was a complete failure, but 2012 won't be. They aren't guaranteed a Super Bowl berth or anything close, but this is a team that is seeking redemption and it is a team that is ready to come together. The Eagles may not win the division, but they will be significantly better than the team that took the field last September.