Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles were considered to be a lock for the playoffs and odds-on Super Bowl favorites after making the biggest free-agency splash in recent memory.
Their defensive line was littered with dominant pass-rushers, their secondary was by far the most talented in the league, their explosive offense was still largely intact and expectations were through the roof.
As most of you know, the Eagles failed to meet those lofty expectations, going 8-8 for the season and rarely showing that they can mesh together as a team.
Now it's 2012, the expectations that come with being coined the Dream Team are gone, and the Eagles have continued to stockpile good players on their already incredibly talented roster.
The question is, will their strides be enough to get the Eagles back in contention?
The Eagles' flaws last year were pretty apparent if you watched them play. Their linebacking corps were weak, they were inconsistent on defense, they couldn't figure out how to get their best talent out on the field at the same time and they simply did not mesh well as a team.
The Eagles hope to have solved the linebacker problem by trading for former Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans and drafting incredibly gifted linebacker Mychal Kendricks in the second round of the NFL draft.
Adding linemen Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox should only help those two in their efforts to improve on the 4.4 yards per carry the Eagles defense allowed in 2011, while simultaneously adding to an already elite pass rush.
The Eagles solved their logjam at cornerback when they traded Asante Samuel to the Atlanta Falcons for a seventh-round pick earlier this offseason. Now talented young corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can slide into his more natural position after being out of place in the nickel last season.
The lack of chemistry will be the biggest obstacle the Eagles will have to overcome if they want to be a playoff team in 2012. From contract squabbles to the me-first attitude most of the team seemed to carry throughout last season, the Eagles just came off more as a group of talented players than a single unit.
Taking care of DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy should quell dips in player morale, while the benefit of having an offseason will finally give the team time to develop the chemistry necessary to succeed in the NFL.
The Eagles, on paper, are even more talented as a team than they were in 2011. They plugged up most of their holes, while keeping their squad intact, and will now have a chance to work together as a team in the offseason.
As most Eagles fans know, however, looking good on paper means nothing if you don't play up to your potential. The Eagles have a very good chance of making a deep playoff run, but it will be on them to go out and get it done.
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