Philadelphians are passionate about many things, but none more so than their football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.
There have been a lot of changes in the Eagles’ roster, including the loss of vaunted quarterback Donovan McNabb. Many believe that, without the veteran presence and numerous talents of McNabb, the Eagles are doomed to failure in an NFC Eastern Division that has improved around them. An especially poignant fear is that the division rival Washington Redskins, who snatched up McNabb soon after he was released from Philadelphia, are going to overtake the Eagles as division leaders with McNabb at the helm.
But, don’t count the Eagles out yet. Training camp has already started at Lehigh University, and the team will hold a special evening practice on Thursday, August 5, as part of the second annual Eagles Flight Night.
Though some of the faces are new and untested, there is a core group of players ready to lead the team through this rebuilding period and back to the promised land of the playoffs.
On offense, the most obvious debate centers around Kevin Kolb; while he is not a rookie and did well in his role as backup, he has never been a full-time starter in the NFL. He is also not the same type of athlete that Donovan McNabb was. But, with an accurate and fairly powerful arm, he is considered to be on the top tier of young quarterbacks.
The Eagles have also managed to retain several of their talented receivers. DeSean Jackson has established himself as one of the top deep-threat receivers and is considered dangerous due to his explosive speed and electrifying moves. Along with sophomore Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek, Kolb will have plenty of targets to throw the ball to; and, with running backs like Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver and running back LeSean McCoy, the Eagles won’t be short on a talent running game.
While the Eagles’ defense looked foolish on several occasions this past season (especially against their divisional archrivals, the Dallas Cowboys), a new-look Eagles defense hopes to regain the top spot in the NFC East. Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott has full control over the defensive schemes, and with first-round draft pick Brandon Graham ready to make an impact this year, as well as talented veterans like Trent Cole and Asante Samuel preparing to pick where they left off last season, the Eagles hope that they will return to the dominance they once held over the other teams in the league.
While there are still several crucial questions to be answered, such as who will replace veteran corner Sheldon Brown, fans hope that the Eagles defense will rebound this season.
The bottom line for the Eagles this season is this: This year is probably going to be a year for reconstruction, not for Super Bowls. Without the likes of McNabb and Brian Westbrook, the Eagles are going to have to find other ways to inspire their youthful players and raise the intensity level.
The key to this season, without a doubt, is Kevin Kolb. But if Kolb doesn’t immediately take to his role as team leader, then expect the Eagles to be a solid 10-6, simply because they are still a talented team with lots of weapons. But be forewarned: If Kolb underperforms, then it could be a very long year for your Eagles.
You can contact John DeLuca at email@example.com.