What Defines a Successful 2010 Season for Philadelphia Eagles?
The best part about training camp is that most fans genuinely believe the upcoming season is going to be successful.
The Oakland Raider die-hards will tell you their team can compete for the AFC West title this season. If that happens the season will be a success.
Meanwhile many of the Dallas Cowboys' blowhards will define success through a Super Bowl title.
So this leaves me and the guy above wondering: What defines a successful season for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010?
Is he wearing an Andy Harmon jersey? Sorry, but that crossed my mind too.
Should only a championship satisfy the fans or is it okay for the Eagles to finish 5-11 as long as Kevin Kolb progresses?
It's tough to say.
I had so many thoughts I decided to let my multiple personalities take over, explore the options and allow you to decide.
Super Bowl or Bust
Back when players wore leather helmets and they lined up on both sides of the ball, the Philadelphia Eagles were one of the premier franchises in the league.
Following the 1960 season, which marked the last championship, the Eagles won a dismal five playoff games before the 2000 season.
Needless to say, the Eagles were not the "gold standard."
Then something weird happened: The fans saw the Eagles as winners.
Between 2001 and 2008, the Eagles made it to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.
Forget the record for a minute because it really doesn't matter.
The Eagles were legitimate contenders for a Super Bowl five times and always walked away empty handed.
It left the fans continuously expecting and dying for a parade down Broad Street in Philadelphia.
So why change the expectation now?
Who cares if the Eagles bailed on Donovan McNabb? Wasn't he the one we viewed as being a choke artist? Don't we have a more than capable replacement?
Why should the fans lower expectations after 50 years of pain and suffering.
It will be great for the fan base to take a trip down memory lane when the Eagles honor the 50-year anniversary team before the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Isn't it time new memories were created?
Why not expect and even demand a Super Bowl?
Whether you like it or not, success is determined by one thing and one thing only in Philadelphia: Winning a Super Bowl.
Win a Playoff Game
Losing happens, and sadly it happens more often than winning.
I don't care what franchise you talk about, the season ends without a championship far more frequently than it does.
A Super Bowl or Bust attitude is way out of line. Demanding at least one playoff win is where the fans should draw the line.
If success is measured by making an improvement upon last year, the Eagles must win in the playoffs this year after making a trip to the postseason in 2009.
By going one-and-done in the playoffs the Eagles won't show any true progress, and by failing to reach the playoffs they will show an obvious step in the wrong direction.
Last year the Eagles had notable injuries to the starting middle linebacker, running back, guard, and center.
With a much healthier team this year it should not matter that Kevin Kolb is the starting quarterback and that the defense is young.
This team is in a far better position to win than last year's injury-riddled roster and it is the main reason why a playoff win defines this team's success.
A Playoff Berth is Cause for Celebration
Andy Reid has guided the Eagles to eight playoff berths during his 11-year tenure as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach.
A missed postseason is damaging to the psyche of the players and the organization. Just because Kevin Kolb has little experience in the NFL does not mean we can cut him enough slack to accept missing out on the postseason.
Okay, I admit that a playoff win seems a little too lofty, but a trip to the playoffs is well within reach and accepting anything less than that is a loser's mentality.
The NFC is not exactly loaded with teams, right?
We can pencil in the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and for argument's sake, the San Francisco 49ers.
Don't forget the NFC West is contractually obligated to send some slop-infested team to the playoffs as the divisional winner.
So that leaves the Eagles fighting it out with the Chicago Bears, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons.
Are those teams so great that we can't beat them out?
What do those teams bring to the table that make me believe a playoff berth should not be the measure of success?
Once we make the playoffs then we will likely face a formidable opponent on the road, and a loss would not be devastating considering how young this team is.
The success of this year's Eagles team can't be compared to that of last season because it is a completely different team with younger players who are still unproven, which means expecting a playoff win is way out of line.
Sure, Andy Reid only missed the playoffs three times as the Eagles' head coach, but did you see who his starting quarterbacks were during the years he missed the playoffs?
In 1999 Doug Pederson played in all 16 games and started in nine. Rookie Donovan McNabb started in six games and Koy Detmer got the nod in one game.
The 2005 season marked the second year Reid missed the playoffs. That was due in large part to McNabb missing the final seven games of the season.
Mike McMahon started the remainder of the season and the Eagles went 2-5.
In 2008 Reid lost McNabb in the middle of the season for two games against the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
Both games were winnable, but A.J. Feeley was not able to come through and it cost the Eagles a shot at the postseason.
Fast forward to this year and Reid is left without his boy McNabb.
With Kevin Kolb under center the Eagles are going to go through major growing pains, moments of greatness, and moments of despair.
One week they may look like world beaters and they may even take a game from the Dallas Cowboys, but other weeks they will look lost and could be swept by the Washington Redskins.
In fairness to Kolb and Reid, a .500 season defines success. Expecting a playoff berth is a little too much to ask for right now, but a losing season is also not acceptable.
It's time to ride the fence and not put your set on either side.
Who Cares About Record? Defense Needs to Improve
In Philadelphia we know defense wins championships.
Yes, the offense has been great over the last decade, but that's not who Philadelphia is and that's not how this team is going to make itself a contender once again.
With a young quarterback under center it is up to the defense to emerge as the dominant unit once again in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have a long and rich tradition of great defenders from Chuck Bednarik to Brian Dawkins.
Following the death of defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson and injuries to what seemed like every linebacker on the roster, the defense was not held accountable all of the time even though things got ugly.
Sean McDermott struggled in his first year as the defensive coordinator, the defensive line was inconsistent at creating pressure on the quarterback. There was a carousel at linebacker and the secondary gave up far too many big plays.
A revamped defense can establish the Eagles as a dominant team in the NFC.
Toss the record out the window because it only matters how the new Gang Green plays.
It's All About Kevin Kolb and Not the Team's Record
You don't win championships with defense anymore.
The NFL is built for offenses. Without a good quarterback, you can't succeed.
There are rare moments when guys like Eli Manning pin passes against teammate's helmets and magically win a Super Bowl.
For the most part, you need a great quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Since that is the long-term goal of the franchise and fan base, the progression of Kevin Kolb is the only thing that matters this season.
The Eagles could finish the year 1-15, but if Kolb plays well in the final four weeks and ends the season with a win against the Cowboys, you have to look at the season as a success.
Okay, maybe that's a little bleak and extreme. If the Eagles go 0-15 before finally winning it is likely that Kolb will be on the bench, but you get the point.
So what defines Kolb making progress?
He needs to make smart decisions with the football.
That doesn't just mean cutting down on interceptions. It also means reading coverages and throwing the ball to the correct receiver.
If he heaves up a bomb to DeSean Jackson in triple coverage and it scores a touchdown, it does not mean Kolb is making good decisions. It means he got lucky (see Eli example above).
He needs to find receivers in one-on-one matchups, wait for tight ends to work their way into the soft spot of zones, have touch on his passes when he throws a screen, and hit receivers in stride to allow them to run after the catch.
They're all little things and maybe it won't lead to a great record.
If he can begin to accomplish most of those things and he shows continuous progression throughout the season we have to walk away feeling like it was a successful season.