June has rolled around and that makes us all one month closer to the 2012 NFL season. As the Philadelphia Eagles hold OTAs and continue to prep the team for the full-team mini-camp in two weeks, the events of this offseason will no-doubt help the Eagles in 2012. With Andy Reid on the hot seat and Michael Vick knowingly admitting the days for a Super Bowl are numbered, this year will have to be nothing less than perfect. With the season set to begin on September 9th against the Cleveland Browns, the Eagles have a lot to work for. Here are the 5 keys to the Eagles’ 2012 campaign.
5. Offensive Line
The Eagles currently have 15 active players fighting to be on that starting-5 offensive-line. Everyone knows the scenario with Jason Peters and have come to terms with his indefinite return window, but the Eagles must move on and rebuilt. The Eagles immediately signed Demetress Bell to fill the void and re-signed the giant in King Dunlap. Adding two guys in the draft with Dennis Kelly and Brandon Washington was a great move for the Eagles and now they will all learn under Howard Mudd to be NFL-ready. The reason this comes in at No. 5 is because without a solid and healthy o-line, how can the offense thrive? It is clear that Michael Vick is fragile and he will need all the help he can get in 2012 in order to stay healthy. It starts with these guys. If the guru Mudd is as legendary as they claim, then expect a dangerous group on the line for the Eagles this upcoming season.
4. McCoy Must Stay Healthy, DeSean Better Produce
Last season was a remarkable one for running back LeSean McCoy. With 1,309 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns, McCoy not only set career-best numbers, but he also led the league with most rushing touchdowns amongst any player in the NFL. Now that McCoy has recently signed a new long-term contract for the Eagles, he can play and compete at the top of his game worry-free. Recognized as one of the best young running backs in the league, McCoy needs to keep his level of intensity up and stay on the field. Can you imagine what the season would’ve been like last year if McCoy was hurt? 4-12 at best? No one wants to jinx him and run the risk of him sitting in 2012, but the thought it still out there. If the Eagles want to reach the Super Bowl, McCoy will be the main guy behind that. Next is DeSean Jackson. Last year, Jackson decided to play the role of drama queen and started some bad vibes in the Eagles locker room. With career-low numbers since his rookie season, Jackson had a very terrible season. While he claims he was frustrated for not having the desired contract he wanted, D-Jax can no longer complain. The Eagle re-signed one of the fastest players in the NFL a few months ago and he now has no reason to be under 1,000 yards receiving in 2012. If he can keep his attitude straight, his mindset professional and his game at a Pro-Bowl level, the Eagles will happy knowing the money they gave him wasn’t a waste.
3. Michael Vick
After coming into the 2010 season behind Kevin Kolb as just a wild-cat player, Vick stole the spotlight and the hearts of every hater in the world. With 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns on his back, the man who had not started since 2006 was quickly becoming the face of the franchise. With high hopes for 2011, Vick slightly disappointed many and had seemed to lose his hero-like powers. Vick more than doubled his interceptions from 2010 to 2011 from 6 to 14. After missing 3 full games and sitting the fourth quarter three different times during the year due to injuries sustained during the game, many fans became aggravated as the Eagles would go on to lose. With the lead heading into the fourth quarter against the Falcons and the Giants, Mike Kafka came in and did not get the job done. In 2012, Vick plans to stay healthy and be dominant 24/7. One thing he knew he had to work on was limiting his running game and being smarter with his hits. Every time Vick tucked the ball and ran, people would close their eyes and hope he sat up the next play. If Vick wants to achieve his goal, then sliding safely will be his best friend. Like previously stated, help from the offensive line will be crucial as well. The less hits Vick takes during a game, the better the chances the Eagles have to win. Vick knows his time for a ring is quickly ending, and 2012 will be his chance to make the most of it. Heck, it may be his last chance.
2. Defense, Defense, Defense
Ask any Eagles fan why the birds didn’t have a good season last year and they’ll blame it on the poor play of the defense. Stopping the running game in particular is what killed the Eagles in 2011. Ranked 16th in the league with 112.6 rushing yards against them, the Eagles knew that they needed to focus on their linebacking core and rearrange the scenery. Adding DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker and drafting Mychal Kendricks for the outside was their first step, and it may have been the perfect plan. Not only was boosting the linebackers important, but finding the perfect weapon on the defensive line was on the Eagles list too. As a result, the Eagles traded up in the 2012 NFL draft and took Fletcher Cox, a versatile 300-pound big man who will clog the line and complete the defensive needs. Now that Juan Castillo is in his second full year as defensive-coordinator, he can use the first full offseason with the team to pick up where they left off last year. The Eagles finished the season on a four game winning-streak and that is what ultimately saved his job. Even though it took 12 games for the Eagles defense to come together, those final four games were scary for the opponents. Allowing only 46 points while putting up 125 on offense showed this team was finally where they should be. With playmakers all across the board in Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, it is safe to say the Eagles defense is ready. With the safety positions being the only weak spot on the entire team, we can hope Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen are drinking their protein shakes and watching a lot of Ed Reed film.
1. Offseason and Training Camp
While this may seem like a no-brainer, most people tend to overlook just how important these offseason activities actually are to a team. With the lockout last year effecting many teams, no other team was hurt as badly as the Birds. With a bunch of new faces and talent added last year, the Eagles had little to no time to practice together and build that needed team chemistry in order to thrive in the league. A record of 8-8 was the result, and the Eagles learned from their mistakes. The Eagles have yet again some real talented players to the roster through the draft and free-agency, and these three months will mean more than anything else to the new players. Players such as DeMeco Ryans, Fletcher Cox and already highly praised Mychal Kendricks are easing their way into the NFL scheme and learning under the best. As a whole, the team must take advantage of their first offseason together. Not only is training camp important for players to shake the rust off, but it’s important for the staff to find gems and sign the guys no one knows about. Damaris Johnson is one player the Eagles signed that many people have not heard of, but I assure you he won’t be a secret for long. Let’s just say he’s can pass as D-Jax’s little brother with the blazing speed. I have full faith in the Eagles organization to do what is necessary in oder for the Eagles to be ready to compete in 2012.
There are the 5 key factors for a successful season in 2012. While the rumors and news may seem slow around the league, stay updated with Philly Sports Nut for all your latest Philadelphia Eagles news.