What has to happen for the Philadelphia Eagles to make a Super Bowl run next season? The answer to that question may have been different two years ago.
In fact, many people probably thought the question had been answered after one of the biggest free-agency hauls in recent NFL history.
After the sad realization that being good on paper has no correlation to being good on the field, the Eagles organization is back to square one. Since the team is far from a "project," the pieces are in place for a quick turnaround.
Turnarounds don't happen by magic, of course, and without these moves from the Eagles, one may not happen at all.
This step for the Eagles organization would require them to tighten the leash on General Manager Howie Roseman. With the hiring of Chip Kelly, it's absolutely necessary for owner Jeffrey Lurie to give him the decision-making power needed to do his job.
Roseman may already have a bit of a reputation for overstepping his boundaries. Whether it's true or not, it can't happen. If the Eagles want to be Super Bowl bound, Kelly must be able to shape and mold the team around his plans and expectations as a coach, not Roseman's as a GM.
How many times in the NFL do you see a new coach hired and fired within the span of a couple years? Of course, there are a ton of different factors and causes for that, but more than likely a majority of them come from a coach not having enough control over what has to be done.
Coach Kelly is the Eagles' current long-term solution. Because of that, he has to have the ability to develop his long-term plan and goals. Without it, he will either fail or find a place that allows him to do so.
Working with Roseman will be key, but it has to be a supportive relationship rather than a conflicting one.
Webster's definition of "feared" is "an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger."
The first reaction when you see the phrase "a feared defense" may be to assume a playmaking defense. This is a defense that causes a lot of turnovers. This is a defense that can stop the run.
That's not the kind of fear that should be a priority for Philadelphia.
Offenses should come in to a matchup against the Eagles knowing that they're going to need an extra ice bath on the following day. Every Eagles opponent should give a postgame press conference talking about how the previous three hours were a "war."
This mentality has nothing to do with physical skill. It's a characteristic that can be developed in every player. Once it is, the transformation that follows can be incredible.
When you are tougher than the opponent, you want it more. It can be demoralizing and fatiguing for an opponent. Because of that, plays are made.
The defensive line begins to win more battles. When the defensive line wins more battles, the secondary benefits from a pressured quarterback. The list can go on and on.
By introducing a mentality of physicality like no one has ever seen, the Eagles can raise their level of play without even changing personnel (hopefully, they will do both).
Take it from the two teams competing for this year's Super Bowl; defense wins championships.
This step does not mean that the Eagles need to mortgage the future in order to trade up for Joeckel. In fact, quite the opposite.
Joeckel is the only player in this draft worthy of a first round value pick. If he falls to the Eagles at their fourth overall spot, that's perfect. However, if he doesn't, it would be time to get creative.
Since the Eagles do have so many needs to fill before next season, it would make too much sense to trade down for more picks. Joeckel is a guy I believe can contribute at a veteran level instantly next year. While there will be obvious draftees who can do the same, nobody else has his level of guarantee.
If the Eagles can get a guy of his caliber, it will no doubt jump start their path to the Super Bowl. Alternatively, if he isn't available, filling holes with more draft picks could be equally beneficial.
Both last year and this year, the San Francisco 49ers were a solid pick to reach the Super Bowl. All of this was, of course, while Alex Smith was at the helm.
The fact that San Francisco is in the Super Bowl without him does nothing to diminish his quality as a quarterback. In fact, the only thing Smith did wrong this season was admit he had a concussion.
Nobody is arguing that Smith is a Brady, Manning or Rodgers. However, a well-built team with Smith under center can undeniably be a Super Bowl contender.
When evaluating Smith's potential with the Eagles, you have to do so relative to the other options. Foles is a project. The Eagles will not win a Super Bowl in 2013 with Nick Foles starting for 16 games. Mike Vick has quickly become a wild card, and an expensive one at that.
Why should the Eagles waste anymore time experimenting with quarterbacks when the man who took the current Super Bowl bound 49ers to a 6-2 start could be in midnight green?
It's safe to say that the majority of fans who have seen Ponder play would consider him a low-tier starter. That's a nice way of saying he isn't that good. With that being said, the Vikings found themselves winning a playoff race in to the postseason.
The Eagles need to follow suit and eliminate the stigma that quarterbacks are always the foundation of the offense. Adrian Peterson and the Vikings proved that theory otherwise. The Eagles have an elite, franchise running back in McCoy. It's time to start utilizing him as one.
With the introduction, hopefully the days of 50 pass attempts in a game is long gone. If he puts the team on the back of its best player, McCoy may have a chance to carry them to the 2014 Super Bowl.