All of the so called NFL experts seem to think that the Eagles will fall short of the playoffs this season. After a decade of mostly winning seasons, it's hard to imagine the Eagles not being contenders, But I understand why.
It seems as if the Philadelphia Eagles rebui —I mean, went under a huge cosmetic surgical procedure this off-season (Mustn't say rebuild ). They are almost a completely different team from last year, with one big (perhaps fat ) exception.
Some think that getting rid of McNabb and Westbrook in the same year is a mistake. I can assure you that even if the McNabb trade was premeditated, cutting Westbrook was unplanned. I mean, who plans for career ending injuries? With the Eagles, it was much more then two players. But everyone will tell you, a team losing their two biggest play makers would devastate any NFL team.
What if Peyton Manning and Joseph Addai left the same year? Would the Colts be favorites to hit the playoffs? How about the Ravens without Flacco and Rice? Here’s a good one, Viks without Favre and Peterson? What makes the question any different about the Eagles?
Andy Reid’s system?
This is a great opportunity to see if the Andy Reid version of the “West Coast System” (The Andy Reid Philosophy) is the correct way to run this team.
I know what you are thinking, If the Kolb experience is not a great one, we can run Andy out of town and blame him for all the missed championshipsm, right? I don’t think so.
When Andy took over after a horrible 3-13 season in 1998, He made a “huge impact” by restructuring the team. Andy brought a super-star cast of coaches including the late (Great) Jim Johnson, Brad Childress, John Harbaugh, and even Steve Spagnuolo. He drafted McNabb (who became the starter that year) and began to implement his scheme. After that season, the Eagles only went a miraculous 5-11. The “new team” only managed two more wins then the previous year. There were signs of hope, but the fans were devastated. This was the beginning of the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb era. Sound Familiar?
Now that I have shown you doubt, let me show you some hope.
That was Donovan’s first year as an NFL quarterback. He was not used to the speed of the game, thus why he only played half the season. The offense had a huge hole on the right side of the line only to be filled a year later by Jon Runyan who Andy brought over from the Oilers. McNabb was a run first player in Andy’s pass first offense. The 1999 Eagles were a pure plug-and-play with a lack of talented players. One season later, when the system was not only established but accepted, the team went 11-5 and won a playoff game.
As of now, Kevin Kolb already has three seasons under his belt to get the bugs out. He, as well as all the playmakers, are already familiar with running Andy’s system. With Kolb's accuracy and quick release, he is perfect for a west coast offense. He has a plethora of skill at his disposal in Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy, and Leonard Weaver. (whew, that was a mouthful)
The offensive line took a hit. It is not perfect, but a sturdy line full of experience. The offence will most likely look more like a quick strike, pass and YAC, quick play team. Not like the big strike big play team from the past few years.
As far as the defense?
Wow, where to begin? Last year, Stewart Bradley, the Eagles starting middle linebacker, went out with a knee injury before the start of the season. This was the start of an injury-plagued year for the Eagles defense. By the middle of the season the Eagles were asking fans to fill in as linebacker. (kidding...)
All joking aside, things were looking bad.
Quinton Mikell could play one heck of a strong-safety but could not fill the shoes of Dawkins at free-safety. Without that intimidation over the top, the occasional Asante Samuel gamble became a serious vulnerability. The durable hammer, Sheldon Brown played hurt most of the season and looked slow. Needless to say, there were holes the size of “Dallas, Texas” in the defense by the end of the year.
People tend to realize that the Eagles have more question marks on the Defensive side of the ball. Will Stew Bradley play back to his form? (Due to the Injury of Marlin Jackson) Will the Rookie, Nate Allen succeed in replacing Brian Dawkins? Is Ellis Hobbs a viable replacement for Sheldon Brown? Will Sean McDermott have a better instinct of opposing offensive plays in his second year as defensive coordinator?
In all of this light, I am sure that the Eagles offense will play hard, play fast, and play as tough as they can to win.
The defense is a squad that is full of youth and speed. Will they gel as a unit, or will they play immature and cause stupid mistakes?
Only time will tell.
But the biggest question of them all is:
Are you ready for some Eagles football?