What would a Philadelphia Eagles offseason be without having any complaints towards front office decisions, coaching maneuvers and lack of addressing vital needs to help the team improve? One used to be able to go in the dark without following the team for months, yet come out of the woodwork to complain about the lack of a short-yardage back, a dangerous receiving threat or a “how the heck could they let that guy walk and not re-sign him!?” comment and yet still be right.
So what would an offseason be without all of the above to bicker about?
2012 will go down as the offseason where essentially all of the Eagles fanbase can unanimously agree that they finally got it right and actually listened. Now, will that matter when they hit the field in three-and-a-half months is still up in the air. But the fact of the matter is that this is a foreign feeling for anyone who has followed this team for quite some time.
Complaining about a lack of motivation from the head honchos in the front office has become almost as much of a norm as the forward pass. But not this year, and here’s why.
By far, linebacker was the most pressing need for the team once they were eliminated from playoff contention at the end of 2011. The likes of Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle and Akeem Jordan simply weren’t efficient and each had their struggles throughout the year.
However, thanks to Howie Roseman and company making an offseason trade for Houston Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans, they now have a consensus middle linebacker who can take the reins. Ryans struggled in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 game plan, but he has shown that he excels in the middle in a 4-3 linebacker scheme.
With incumbent linebackers like Chaney, Matthews (who has reportedly added an extra 20 pounds of bulk working out with his brother Clay) and Rolle getting an extra year of experience under their short tenures on the team, Ryans should be able to provide some stability to a linebacker core that desperately needs it.
Thanks to primarily two teams who selected above the Eagles in the draft—Kansas City taking Dontari Poe and Carolina going with Luke Kuechly—Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox essentially fell into the Birds’ lap after they traded back in the first round.
Cox, along with Mike Patterson, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon and Cullen Jenkins will serve as a potent rotation for Wide 9 specialist Jim Washburn to interchange.
To add to the team’s defensive depth, they also selected linebacker Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry in the second round. Curry, having played in a similar Wide 9 scheme at Marshall, is looking to give former first-rounder Brandon Graham a run for his money for playing time.
Other notable draft selections: QB Nick Foles, CB Brandon Boykin
Locking up Current Talent
We’ve seen it in the past with the team letting Jeremiah Trotter leave to the Washington Redskins earlier in the decade. The Eagles let a player with significant value walk away at the prime of his career.
However, that wasn’t the case this year as the Eagles locked up DeSean Jackson, Todd Herremans, LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole and Evan Mathis to long-term deals. Both Jackson and McCoy are the cornerstones to the offense and having both Herremans and Mathis locked in provides stability on the offensive line as well.
Even with All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters suffering a season-ending Achilles injury, they didn’t hesitate to address the important need by acquiring Demetress Bell from the Bills. Bell most likely won’t be able to bring the talent and raw physicality that Peters has had, but the urgency was there in filling a much-needed position and not leaving it to a backup like King Dunlap.
It’s an odd and somewhat foreign feeling to not have much or anything to criticize during an Eagles offseason. Not since 2004 when the team brought aboard Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse have I felt a sense of unity and consensus in regards to the draft and free-agency acquisitions.
The biggest difference from this offseason compared to last year is that they didn’t bring in a bunch of All-Stars and force them to gel with limited OTAs and camps due to the lockout last season. Aside from the draft and a couple new faces from trade, for the most part these are players born and bred in the system who were rightfully and deservedly taken care of.
And because of that, there is a reason for optimism.
All we can hope for is that it pans out three-and-a-half months from now.