…they can follow the following seven steps.
Michael Vick plays all 16 games (and at his 2010 level of play)
We all know that Michael Vick is the most dynamic and dangerous player in the NFL. His ability to evade defensive lineman, like a gazelle running for his life from a Cheetah, is an unequivocal talent that cannot be taught. He can throw the ball a mile and at times with deadly precision that only a Navy Seal marksman could envy. His highlight film is unparalleled. Unfortunately when it comes to the analytics side of the game Vick has enormous amounts of room to grow. Vick showed flashes of brilliance in 2010, especially on Monday night against the Redskins, but has lacked the consistent steady playmaking of elite quarterbacks such as Brady, Brees, Rogers and I say this with begrudging gut-wrenching despair – Eli Manning. If he can diagnose a play before it happens on a level close to the aforementioned elite for 16 games, Vick will not only have the occasional SportsCenter Top 10 highlight, but the best year of his career.
Demetress Bell is half the player Jason Peters was in 2011
Jason Peters may never even walk again – let alone play football. Your heart has to go out to a guy that went undrafted to All-Pro within 3 years of being in the league. Peters, when healthy was arguably the best left tackle in all of football for the past 3 seasons. Here’s to at least a recovery that lets Peters live a normal life again and hopefully play football too!
However, the 2012 season is about his replacement – free agent acquisition, Demtress Bell. Bell has shown he can be a quality left tackle in this league when he can get on the field, but over the past three seasons has only played in 31 games out of 48. Provided Bell stays healthy for 16 games and plays half as well as Peters did last year, the rest of the offensive line, which is completely intact and had stretches of dominance last season, should be able to pick up the slack, especially when you consider two of the starters were rookies without a true offseason to adjust to the NFL.
DeMeco Ryans is the leader of the defense the Eagles have been missing since Dawkins’ departure
I have not met a Philadelphia Eagles fan that had anything bad to say about the beloved Brian Dawkins. He was an electrifying player to watch, and more importantly THE inspirational leader on defense and one of the finest men off the field to ever play the game. In Dawkins’ day opposing offenses were terrified of playing the Eagles. Since his regrettable departure in 2009 the Eagles have lacked a true identity on defense.
DeMeco Ryans has been dubbed than man to replace that tenacity, or in the recent words of NBA legendary coach Greg Popovich bring the “nasty” back to the Midnight Green. Ryans, before his Achilles injury in 2010, was on the verge of being talked about in the same conversation as Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher who are both first ballot future HOFs. However, his 2010 season was stripped away due to injury. In 2011 Houston switched to a new 3-4 defense, where Ryans struggled to get comfortable. According to reports from just about every Philadelphia Eagles source out there, Ryans has taken to Juan Castillo’s defense and taken control of the huddle which consequently has garnered him immediate respect from everyone – on both sides of the ball. If he can play like he did in 2009, and 2010 before his injury, and provide leadership in a Dawkins-espue way, the Eagles will be astronomically better – and scarier – on defense in 2012.
The first two picks of the 2012 draft class – Fletcher Cox & Mychal Kendricks – play big quality minutes
The Philadelphia Eagles made two clear statements this offseason. First, to take care of their own players. This offseason Eagles management re-signed: RT Todd Herremans, DE Trent Cole, WR DeSean Jackson and RB LeSean McCoy.
Their second statement was that the defense, especially against the run, needed to get better. It was no secret where the weakness of the Eagles defense was last year – right up gut. I’m fairly certain that the 1988 Permian High School Panthers from Friday Night Lights (the movie) could have had a field day running off tackle against the Eagles last season – especially during the first 8 games.
So what did the Eagles do about fixing this? They traded for pro-bowl MLB DeMeco Ryans and their first two draft picks – DT Fletcher Cox and SLB Mychal Kendricks – are expected start and contribute on day 1. Coincidentally, the most important positions to stopping the run are DT, MLB and SLB. On a side note, my final mock draft had the Eagles taking both of those players with their first two picks.
DeSean Jackson lives up to his contract by losing his fear of getting hit
DeSean Jackson is one of the scariest receivers in the NFL for both opposing NFL coaches and Andy Reid. On any given night he can go for 210 yds on just 4 catches and a TD like he did against Dallas in 2010 or he can have 2 catches for 26 yards, with 2 drops including one for a TD, like he did just two games prior to the aforementioned Dallas game. Since his second concussion in 2010 he has just 4 100+ yards receiving and only 7 TD catches in 23 games. Jackson has been accused of giving up and being scared to go across the middle since his most recent concussion and lack of a contract. Fortunately for the Jackson – and hopefully the Eagles – he no longer has contract issues, and according to every report from OTAs he is saying all the right things. Let’s just hope that trend continues when pads go on. If it does he should produce a 70 catch 1200 yard season with 9 touchdowns therefore validating his contract extension.
The starting corners, Nnamdi Asomugha & Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC), play at the Pro-Bowl level they have in the past.
Cornerback was supposed to be a position of strength last year. However, especially early on, the Eagles struggled mightily against the pass. Asomugha – the consensus second best cornerback in the league let then unknown and undrafted Victor Cruz score two TDs against him. That should have never happened.
Both players admitted last year was a difficult transition to Castillo’s defense and were asked to do things – like play zone and slot – that were out of their comfort zone. Both players’ strengths are man to man and are extremely dangerous when in that type of coverage. So good that in 2008 – 2010 Asomugha was selected to the Pro Bowl amd DRC was selected in 2009. Expect both players to have not only a bounce back season, but by season’s end be one of the most feared cornerback duo’s in the entire league.
Side note: Andy Reid and GM Howie Roseman should strongly consider extending DRC’s contract before the season starts to get him at a discounted rate for the next few seasons. If he plays to his potential it will be very difficult to sign him next year after Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan signed $50 million contracts this offseason.
LeSean McCoy has someone to successfully spell him
McCoy was simply a joy to watch last season as he juke defenders like Barry Sanders did throughout the 90′s. His innate talent of making people think he is going to go one way and then go the other actually led me to dub him “Smoke” who is a ninja from Mortal Combat. Smoke’s most potent move (the first 2 seconds of the clip) was to disappear and reappear behind his opponent for a devastating move. This is much like McCoy’s shake and bake move leaving defenders bewildered as to how “Smoke” got into the endzone.
As good as “Smoke” is for the Eagles he needs to stay fresh throughout the entire season. This means he needs a reliable backup to spell him for a series or two each half as well as a few specialty plays throughout the game. If the Philadelphia Eagles can provide the antithesis of what Ronne Brown provided last year, they will be in good shape. The leading candidate is a guy who ironically spelled McCoy at University of Pittsburgh, Dion Lewis. Lewis, has a little Maurice Jones-Drew in him. He is built low to the ground with unbelievable power and quickness for his size. He should offer the ability to spell McCoy with minimal drop off in play.
If the Eagles can hit the nail on the head with the aforementioned points, they should go 12-4 this season. This should lead them to an NFC East regular season title and perhaps a deep playoff run. Let me know if you like, hate or think these points are asinine!