A Step-by-Step Guide to Rebuilding the Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia's 2012 season may have been over for quite some time now, but at least the team has a sense of direction moving forward. After the thrilling win over Tampa Bay, Nick Foles seems to have the tools to be a franchise quarterback.
And even with all of the holes on the roster, the team still has enough talent to bounce back within a few seasons. Of course, the team is clearly going to enter a rebuilding mode now. But rebuilding does not have to take a decade.
If the Eagles play their cards right, they can find themselves back in playoff contention by following these five steps...
1. Select Either the Best Defensive Player or the Best O-Lineman
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The way to build teams is to assemble talent. And you get the best talent by not locking onto need.
Such a strategy makes sense this year for the Eagles. The team seems poised to get the 3rd or 4th overall pick and Geno Smith is most likely going to go first overall to Kansas City.
In that case, the Eagles could have the chance to take Notre Dame's Manti Te'o or perhaps Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel.
Some say defense wins championships, in which case Te'o could give the Eagles one of the NFL's best linebacker corps. Others say it all starts with the O-Line, in which finding an upgrade over Todd Herremans and/or the injured Jason Peters could take priority.
Both areas are huge needs for the Eagles, but making the right choice here could have drastic repercussions for the next decade.
2. Appoint Bill Cowher as the New Head Coach
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The biggest problem facing the Eagles currently is a lack of discipline. The team starts well, loses focus, and gives away games.
Last game was a pleasant exception, but the trend is clear: the team needs a coach that will immediately command respect.
It doesn't have to be a Super Bowl winner, but it does need to be someone with a great deal of success. Bill Cowher seems like a logical choice. Oregon's Chip Kelly could also make sense, having gotten it done at the collegiate level.
Hiring someone like Jon Gruden would be a mistake. Gruden may have won a Super Bowl, but that season proved to be his most successful by far.
The Eagles need a coach that can consistently guide teams to postseason wins.
Cowher has advanced his teams to six AFC Championships, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl win. He will also change the culture of the Eagles from a big-play offense to a run-oriented, defensive team, which will greatly help a young and inexperienced Nick Foles.
If anyone out there could resurrect this franchise, it's Cowher.
3. Sign Ron Rivera as Defensive Coordinator
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Unless your team has talent at every position on defense, blitzing is how you win games and frustrate opposing offenses. Jim Johnson understood this and passed down his knowledge to a few others. Steve Spagnuolo was one, Ron Rivera was another.
Rivera may be struggling as a head coach, but he is one of the best when it comes to defensive coaching. Making use of Johnson's aggressive philosophy, Rivera's defense helped lead the 2006 Bears to the Super Bowl. In San Diego, he made the normally offensive-minded Chargers a defensive force to he reckoned with.
If he were given the reigns of the Eagles' defense, he could make it a defense to be feared once again, something not seen in Philadelphia since the passing of Jim Johnson.
4. Trade Nnamdi Asomugha, Michael Vick, and Cullen Jenkins
The Eagles should keep many of their current players, but some of them are getting too old and have contracts that are too large. Unless they agree to significant pay cuts they should hit the road.
Nnamdi Asomugha, unfortunately, will likely return a seventh-round pick at best due to his age and poor play. Jenkins, however, can likely be traded for at least a fifth-round pick.
There will also be a great deal of interest in Vick. Despite all his struggles, Vick is as talented as anyone. There are teams that could use him, such as Buffalo, which has a great deal of talent built to win now.
It may seem foolish to trade so many talented players, but a rebuilding effort will take at least a couple of years. It is important that the Eagles amass as many draft picks as possible. The best way to do this is to get rid of some old players while they still can.
5. Find Nick Foles a Go-to Receiver
J. Meric/Getty Images
Donovan McNabb never had a go-to receiver, and he led the Eagles to five NFC Championships and a Super Bowl appearance. Nick Foles is also greatly talented, but the Eagles cannot make the same mistake they made with McNabb.
While DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are better than the likes of Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell, Foles still lacks a consistent possession receiver. The closest he has to one is Jason Avant, but Avant lacks the speed to consistently make big catches.
Having a go-to guy in the red zone would do wonders for the Eagles offense. They could sign a free agent, such as Dwayne Bowe, or they could find someone in the draft.
But a consistent big target, granted the O-Line improves, could make the Eagles once again a top five offense.