Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Reasons 'Dream Team' Will Come to Life in 2012
The Philadelphia Eagles were set up to have a historic 2011 season thanks to a flurry of offseason signings that culminated in a squad that was labeled a "Dream Team." Their dreams were far from coming true last year, but in 2012, those dreams will turn into reality.
Several important differences between 2011 and 2012 will factor into how the Eagles become successful again this season, and here they are.
No Major Coaching Changes
The hiring of Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator raised eyebrows from the start, and the decision to keep him on board for 2012 was highly criticized by fans who saw him turn what seemed to be a great defense into a shadow of what it could have been.
However, that decision will prove to be beneficial, as Eagles defenders will stay in the same system and won't have to learn a new playbook.
Positional coaching changes have been made to bolster individual performance, but as a whole, the Philly D will be better because Castillo is sticking around.
While the 2011 offseason was shortened by the infamous lockout, players and coaches will have a full training camp and much more time to practice in 2012. That will allow new players to acclimate to the system more quickly and let those that tried and failed to learn it last year have an all-important review period.
The combination of a coaching change and the limited practice time really hurt the Eagles' defense last year, but won't be a factor this time around. The great defense on paper will finally be able to produce results on the field and get the ball in the hands of the dynamic offense.
DeSean Jackson's Contract Extension
After years of being underpaid, DeSean Jackson was finally given the multimillion dollar contract he deserves when he signed a five-year, $51 million extension this winter.
The antics won't completely disappear, but the extremely negative ones will.
Jackson was clearly affected by his contract situation in 2011, as he had his lowest yardage and touchdown totals since his rookie year. He was often accused of not giving a full effort on his routes and he was even suspended for a game after sleeping through a mandatory meeting.
The well-paid Jackson will be much better and much more happy than the underpaid Jackson, and Michael Vick and the Eagles offense will immediately see the rewards.
Improvement at End of 2011
It was an incredibly slow start that doomed the Eagles' season last year, and it was an incredibly hot finish that almost saved it for them.
After losing four of the first five games, the Eagles closed out the season with four consecutive victories. In those wins, the efforts of Juan Castillo and his defense appeared to finally start paying off, as opposing teams were held under 20 points in each of the the last four games. In three of those, they were held to two scores or less.
The offense also came together, as it averaged 29 points per game in those four wins. Momentum and hope was built up on both sides of the ball, and that will carry over into 2012.
DeMeco Ryans Trade
The trade for former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans did much more than just fill a gaping hole in the defense—it freed up options for the upcoming draft.
The linebacker from Alabama may now be joined by a fellow member of the Crimson Tide, Dont'a Hightower. All of a sudden, the weakest unit on last year's defense will start to look like a strength.
Or, Andy Reid can keep his tradition going of never drafting a linebacker in the first round and instead look to defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, or perhaps even Dontari Poe, and shore up the middle of the defensive line.
Adding Ryans releases a lot of tension the Eagles and Eagles fans had about the 2012 draft and, most importantly, it takes a huge weakness on the team and turns it into a reliable asset at the very least.