In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles assembled a team with many prestigious players, splashing the cash to get the best players they could in free agency.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown and the former Giant, Steve Smith were all brought to Philadelphia in an attempt to win it all “here and now”.
Expectations were sky-high, and Young didn’t hesitate to call the Birds the NFL’s “Dream Team.” Unfortunately, things didn’t go the right away: The team missed the playoffs and Young’s words were a good reason for rivals to laugh at the Eagles.
When something goes wrong, everyone wants to know the reason why, and a lot of different views about who was to blame were heard.
The majority blamed Andy Reid and his defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo. Truth is, Reid had a lot to do with last year’s slump and his best days as a head coach appear to be gone. However, Jeff Lurie decided to give him one more chance to re-establish the franchise as one of the best in the league.
Castillo made numerous mistakes, mainly in the first half the season, but he did a relatively good job in his first year as a defensive coordinator. He was spared the axe (and rightfully so), but he has to show he can provide Philadelphia with a solid, hard-fighting defense.
Others blamed the players; their abilities and their will to give everything they had. Missed tackles and blown assignments plagued the defense throughout the 2011 NFL season, with ball-carriers running roughshod all over the field, while drops and turnovers on offense showed a lack of focus.
While none of the above is wrong, there is one more factor that played a major role in the Eagles’ 2011 campaign—the lockout and the short offseason. The teams had no OTA’s in 2011 and hardly a normal training camp.
A lot would think that wasn’t a problem only for the Eagles, but remember: Philadelphia had a lot of new players, new offensive and defensive line coaches and a rookie defensive coordinator. That made it even harder for the Eagles to get in sync.
This is the reason why the 2012 training camp is crucial for the franchise. After keeping the playing core and vast majority of the training staff together, the Eagles have a chance to build on what they started last year. In the final four games of the season, Philly was a very strong team and their aim should be to pick up where they left off.
That demands hard work in training camp—not only from the players, but from Reid and his staff too.
For the Eagles, the season does not begin in September. It begins next Sunday, July 22. That’s when they will kick off their camp in Lehigh, where they’ve been holding every training camp since 1996.