NFL Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

Look. Another one!

This Philadelphia Eagles season feels different. Maybe it’s that we’re in a new decade. Maybe it’s that Michael Vick is now a full year removed from prison. Maybe it’s that they actually have a highly respected receiving corps for once. Hmmm, let’s see.

Oh wait, it’s that Donovan McNabb is gone. How could I forget?

Eagles fans, if you’ve got some free time, hunt down every article, video clip and column about the 2008 Green Bay Packers. Examine them closely. This basically will be what the media wants to say about your team this season. If the Eagles fail, everybody will say that they traded McNabb too early and they’re a bunch of morons, all that good stuff. If McNabb beats the Eagles even once this year, it will be that much worse. Basically, if your team flops, not only will you have to deal with your team losing, you’ll also have to read about/listen to/be accosted by people who will tell you McNabb is too good to be traded. I know this isn’t fair, but it’s the sad reality. I feel your potential pain.

That said, the Eagles are in decent shape for the coming year. By trading McNabb and cutting Brian Westbrook, Philly emphatically turned the page on last season’s failures. This is not a bad thing. With LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Jason Avant and the now infamous DeSean Jackson surrounding him, Kevin Kolb’s offense is youthful and positively loaded. His offensive line is pretty good too. And the defense, led by ballhawk Asante Samuel and end Trent Cole, is strong.

So we turn to Kolb, who now holds the hopes of a team on his shoulders. And the good news is by all accounts he looks good. He’s accurate on short passes and is quite comfortable with his receivers, most notably Jackson. Having played on big stages since high school, he’s not at all worried about the pressures of playing in Philadelphia. And he has plenty of winnable games on the schedule. I mean, his first two road games are against Detroit and Jacksonville for goodness sake.

Everything in that above paragraph bodes well for the Eagles. And in a division with the rebuilding Redskins, the suddenly scrutinized Cowboys and the mixed up Giants, the Eagles can win the division if everything falls into place. Kolb has plenty of weapons around him to help make this a possibility.

And if not, it’s ok. In case you didn’t notice, the 2008 Packers failed miserably but bounced back in 2009 to contend for their division. Now they’re considered one of the teams to beat in the NFC. So really, if Eagles fans are concerned about the present, maybe they should just look to the future.

Consider the following. In McCoy, Jackson and Maclin, the Eagles have three dynamic offensive weapons under the age of 25. Kolb is 26 and could have several good years ahead of him. The elder statesman of the receiving corps, the underrated Jason Avant, is 27. Four of five starting lineman are under the age of 30. Bruising fullback Leonard Weaver is 27. The oldest starter on defense is Samuel, 29, who is does not appear ready to slow down. Basically, not only does Philly have a fighter’s chance of winning the division this season, but with so many young impact players, they could be a playoff team for the next several years if they get a few lucky breaks. All they need is for Kevin Kolb to develop as expected, a hope that looks better by the week.

So there you have it Eagles fans. Don’t think of the McNabb trade as the end of an era, but rather the beginning of a new one. The Eagles have gradually overhauled their roster, replacing older players with young ones and reloading for each new season. And based on what I have laid out, the next few years could bring more of the same. And who knows, maybe there’s a Lombardi Trophy somewhere on the horizon. Hope is a beautiful thing, Philly fans.

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