The 2012 season has offered up much more disappointment for fans of the Philadelphia Eagles than what was expected entering the year, especially after the team roared out of the gate with a 3-1 record.
Losers of four straight—following Monday night's 28-13 road loss to the New Orleans Saints—it is now time for the Eagles to start looking toward 2013.
Though this season hasn't gone as planned, there are a few bright spots for this franchise moving forward.
Here are five things that Eagles fans should be excited about for next season.
With Michael Vick under center, the Philadelphia Eagles' offense is as explosive as any in the entire NFL. Without Vick—if the Eagles decide to hand over the reins to Nick Foles—this team will still feature plenty of offensive firepower for next season.
The Eagles will have wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Brent Celek all back next year—with Maclin playing for his first big free-agent contract.
While Vick is still under contract through 2016, it won't matter who is taking snaps for this team. This offense can come at you from many different angles and is still young—a very scary proposition for opposing defenses.
In some ways, the 2012 season has been just as taxing on this Philadelphia Eagles team than last year was—we all remember the "Dream Team" talk.
Trying to put 2011 in the rearview mirror, the Eagles simply can't get out of their own way. From offseason contract distractions to the team's wildly inconsistent play on the field, Philly has been its own worst enemy this season.
Things can't be this bad next year, though, right?
If the Eagles can escape this season with no lingering negative effects, 2013 will come with a clean slate. Changes on the roster and along the coaching staff are inevitable too, as the front office will use the rest of this season to evaluate the future of this franchise.
Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins and Nnamdi Asomugha are all veterans who will anchor the Philadelphia Eagles defense into next year. However, this unit features a handful of young talent as well.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, linebackers Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will all play huge parts in the continued development of the Eagles defense.
Imagine how productive this unit could be if Vick and Co. protected the football better and didn't put them in such pressurized situations all the time.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been pieced together since Michael Vick's arrival in 2009. While they have largely been competitive, time and patience are key during the development of certain team atmospheres.
While most expected immediate success last season, it was obvious that this group needed time to jell. With this project still coming together in 2012, panic is starting to form in Philadelphia.
If this franchise can stay patient for another season—as these players tally another year together—everyone in and around the organization could benefit greatly starting in 2013.
Jason Peters is arguably the best left tackle in the NFL. His absence, after he tore and had surgery on his Achilles twice this offseason, has had a profoundly negative impact on Michael Vick's ability to do his job.
Through eight games, Vick has been sacked 27 times, has lost nine fumbles and has thrown nine interceptions. Not having Peters to lock down one side of the offensive line has certainly hampered the Eagles' ability to execute.
There is a chance that Peters could return this season. But with hopes fading fast of a trip to the postseason, the smart move for the Eagles might be to make sure he enters 2013 completely healthy.