Philadelphia Eagles: Why Birds Will Have Best Season of Any Philly Team in 2012
The past year-and-a-half for Philadelphia teams has made it seem like someone really ticked off a higher power in the world of sports.
2011 saw the Phillies, who won a franchise-record 102 games during the regular season, and 76ers fall in the first round of their respective playoff series. Meanwhile, the Flyers were swept in four games in the Eastern Conference semifinals after finishing atop the Atlantic Division standings.
As for the Eagles...well, their season ended with the final game of the regular season.
And so far in 2012, teams haven’t fared much better.
The Sixers advanced past the first round and took the Boston Celtics to a Game 7 before their playoff run ended. However, the team went 15-17 following the All-Star break and allowed nearly four more points per game than they did during the first half of the season.
After racking up 47 wins during the regular season and battling past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs, the Flyers fell short in their postseason run following a series loss to the eventual Eastern Conference champions, the New Jersey Devils.
And as for the Phillies, well…there’s still time.
Which brings up the Eagles, the team that had possibly the most frustrating 2011 campaign of all of Philadelphia’s teams.
After going 8-8 following numerous free-agent signings in a condensed offseason, could the Eagles be on the verge of having the best season of any Philadelphia team in 2012?
The Eagles finished last season by winning their final four games of the regular season. Yes, these four wins came against teams who missed out on the playoffs, but these wins have seemingly transitioned the team into an offseason that has led to optimism towards the 2012 season.
In those four games, quarterback Michael Vick threw for over 1,100 yards and had seven touchdowns to three interceptions. Prior to those final four games, Vick had thrown 11 touchdowns for the entire season.
But Vick’s late-season improvement isn’t the only reason for optimism towards the 2012 season.
The Eagles tied for the second-fewest tackles in the NFC with 971 last year.
Which could explain why four of the team’s first five picks in April’s draft were defensive players.
Rookies Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin join veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans as additions to an Eagles defense that also ranked among the best in the NFL in sack total.
While last offseason saw the Eagles bring in multiple new faces with the hopes that some sort of chemistry could be developed in time for the start of the season, this offseason saw the team take a different approach.
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Rather than spend big on free agents, the Eagles signed LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans to long-term deals, and they re-signed guard Evan Mathis.
These moves may have not only created a level of comfort inside the locker room following an offseason in which very few of the team’s free agents were re-signed, but it also helped improve their standing with the fans.
The same fans that could use something to cheer for right about now.
And this season’s second half of the schedule could lead to a lot of cheering.
Of the Eagles’ final eight games this season, only two are against teams that finished last year with a winning record. The two teams—the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals—finished last season at 9-7.
Of course, question marks still exist for the upcoming season.
For one, will a slow start or another season like last year make the seat under head coach Andy Reid even hotter? With the recent news involving Joe Banner, how much pull does Reid currently have?
Additionally, what kind of factor will Demetress Bell play on the team’s offensive line in the absence of Jason Peters? Can Vick stay healthy for an entire season?
However, it may be the answer to a question left over from last season which could go a long way in determining the Eagles’ chances of being the best Philadelphia team in 2012.
Last season proved that, although numerous skilled players can be brought in to, on paper, bolster a roster, chemistry between these players is not guaranteed.
Prior to the team’s four-game win streak to close out the regular season, the Eagles did not win two consecutive games at any point during the year.
This season, with a full year together under their belt, as well as a full offseason’s worth of training and team activities, any chemistry that was developed at the end of last year has a good chance of continuing and growing.
Following early struggles by the Phillies and playoff exits by the Sixers and Flyers, the Eagles have a chance to improve on last season and have the most success of any Philadelphia team this year.
They already can say that, for as poorly as they played at times last season, they were still able to defeat the eventual Super Bowl champions using Vince Young at quarterback.
With a head coach potentially coaching for his job, numerous players fighting for their first Super Bowl title and a city full of fans hoping for something to cheer for, the Eagles have reason for optimism towards improving on last year.
And having the best season of any Philadelphia team in 2012.
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