Will Nnmadi Asomugha be the MVP of the Eagles' defense in 2012-2013?
Why? Because we can only speculate about what will happen to our favorite players and teams in the upcoming season.
One of the best things about sports is inventing story-lines—creating imagined glory for your favorite team and potential heartbreak for each and every team and player you hate.
The Eagles finish the preseason—as they do every year—on Thursday night against the New York Jets. The starters and most of the second string players will rest, while the rest of the team scratches and claws for the remaining roster spots. And after that, there will be two weeks before a rather anti-climatic season opener against the Browns.
The real story-lines of the season won't start until after Week 1, when the Eagles—either 0-1 or 1-0—will welcome the Baltimore Ravens to the Linc in what promises to be a potential Super Bowl matchup.
In honor of that game—sure to be a classic defensive battle—and the tradition of cramming in as many preseason lists as possible, below are the six potential candidates for the Defensive MVP of the 2012-2013 Philadelphia Eagles.
1. Trent Cole
Cole has been the heart and soul of the Eagles' defense since his true breakout season in 2007 when he tallied 12.5 sacks. Since that time, Cole has gone from promising edge rusher to one of the most respected defensive players in the entire league.
Last year, Cole totaled 44 tackles, one forced fumble and 11 sacks.
If Cole is going to be the MVP of a very stacked Eagles defense, he will have to total 45 tackles, 13.5 sacks and—here's the key—five forced fumbles. If Cole is disrupting opposing offenses and causes turnovers, he will be the Eagles' Defensive MVP.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha
It's been well documented that Asomugha's 2011-2012 campaign was not his finest in the NFL.
All Eagles fans are expecting him to have a huge bounce-back year, and no one is more confident that Asomugha will succeed than Nnmadi himself.
The expensive cornerback is going to be motivated, comfortable with his teammates and his system and primed to have perhaps his best season as a pro.
To be the MVP of the defense, Asomugha's numbers will have to look something like 50 tackles, three forced fumbles and six interceptions. By accounting for potentially nine turnovers, chances are that not only will Nnamdi be the Eagles' Defensive MVP, but he will also be starting for the team in the Super Bowl.
3. Cullen Jenkins
Jenkins is one of the defensive captains, and despite his recent spat with Andy Reid, he should be primed to improve on his solid 2011-2012 season. Jenkins contributed 5.5 sacks (the third highest total in his career) and 40 tackles (the second highest total in his career) but no forced fumbles.
Jenkins can make his case as Defensive MVP of the team, but he'll have to have 39-42 total tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles.
4. DeMeco Ryans
One of the Eagles' biggest off-season moves was acquiring middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans.
Ryans has been a solid defensive player and leader in the NFL and was recently named the Eagles' second defensive captain. In seven years in the league, Ryans has averaged 91 tackles per year, even though he was injured and played only six games in 2010 and struggled, as he tried to regain his pre-injury form last season.
Ryans has the confidence of the entire Eagles coaching staff and fills a need the Eagles have been sorely lacking in for years. If Ryans can total 128 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3.5 forced fumbles and one interception, he will be the team's Defensive MVP and might even be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.
5. Mychal Kendricks
This might be a reach, but based on his pre-season performance, Kendricks is high on everyone's list.
Kendricks has shown that he has the speed, size and motor to be a quality NFL linebacker. He still has to show it in the actual regular season, but most Eagles fans would not be surprised if, by the end of the year, the rookie is the team's Defensive MVP.
6. Jason Babin
Babin was a force off the edge in 2011. He led the team with 18 sacks and worked brilliantly with Trent Cole to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Babin's preseason has been hampered by a calf injury, but he should be back to 100% by Week 1. He may find some of his snaps taken by a motivated Brandon Graham, but if Babin performs like he did last season (and he should with opposing teams having to worry about so many pass rushing threats), he is an excellent candidate for Defensive MVP.
There you have it, another riveting preseason list.
Now, digest my arguments and stats, and feel free to call me crazy—we all need something to do until the real NFL storylines start.