Bold Predictions: Philadelphia Eagles
Posted on 2/17/2012 4:36:11 AM
1) The Eagles will miss the Playoffs
They will be looking up at the Giants and Cowboys once again. The Eagles have made it a yearly ritual to be statistically excellent in every area except where it matters most: turnovers and record. They commit costly turnovers in critical moments and suffer a meltdown in the fourth quarters of too many games. They will not improve in those areas unless there is a change at coach and quarterback. In addition to their own issues, their division is home to the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants and the very talented Cowboys.
2) 2012 will be the last year in Philly for Michael Vick and Andy Reid
If the Eagles fail to go deep into the Playoffs next year, there will be a complete overhaul of the team and coaching staff. With Reid only having two years left on his contract, it is very unlikely the owner Jeff Lurie will bring back Reid on a one-year contract in 2013. In his state of the team address, he said that he is not interested in discussing an extension with Reid at this time. Vick’s contract is much easier to get out of after next year, so if he does not get it done, the ties will be easy to cut. Since they will not make the Playoffs, look for the Eagles to move on from them.
3) DeSean Jackson will not be on the team
He will reportedly be franchised by the Eagles once teams are allowed to apply the tag on February 20. Out of the three options the team has, the most likely scenario is that he will be traded. His numbers have declined for three consecutive years and simply is not worth the money or trouble going forward. The money notwithstanding, he has suffered multiple concussions in the past three years. That might have more to do with his on-field cowardice than his lack of financial security. Whatever the reasons are, the Eagles are prepared to move on without him.
4) Quarterback Michael Vick will play in all 16 games
This is something he has only done once in career. Up until this point, he has been far too reckless and brittle to survive a complete season. The fate of the 2012 season and his NFL career depend on it. His injuries helped torpedo any chance the Eagles had last year of contending. Vince Young showed that any prolonged stint as a starter will certainly end in disaster. If he cannot prove to the Eagles’ Front Office and the rest of the league that he can hold up for an entire campaign, no one will be interested in investing long-term money in him.
5) Trent Cole and Jason Babin will combine for 35 sacks
After leading the league in sacks with 50 in 2011, the Eagles’ pass rush is in prime position to do the same in 2012, led by Cole and Babin. They combined for 29 last year despite Cole missing two games with a calf injury. Circumstances will dictate these gaudy numbers. If the season is going well, the Eagles will be playing from ahead, forcing the opponents to throw the ball, a lot. If the season submarines, there will be a lot of games toward the end of the season in which the pressure is off and players are only worried about their numbers. Having a full offseason and one year of Washburn’s system under their belt will aid these numbers tremendously.
6) Lesean McCoy will win the rushing title
He finished forth in 2011 with 1,309 yards with a 4.8 average, but for the Eagles to have any kind of success in 2012, they must feature their best player more. He emerged last year as the No. 1 playmaker on an offense riddled with talent. DeSean Jackson probably will not be on the team next year, costing them some downfield explosion, so McCoy must be used more to dictate what defenses do. He was underutilized at times in 2011 because Andy Reid had Vince Young throw the ball 114 times in his three starts. He cannot afford to ignore McCoy like that in 2012.
7) Fourth quarters will once again be a nightmare
This team under Reid has not proven to be mentally tough in the last 5 years. Last year, his team set records in fourth quarter ineptitude and next year will be no different. Reid has built a team predicated on speed and finesse, not toughness like the New York Giants. When the pressure ratchets up in the final moments, the Eagles and especially Michael Vick have continually come up short. The fundamental mentality of the team and the skill-set of the quarterback are not conducive to buckling down in the final quarter. Lip service and practice reps will not change that in 2012.
8) Nnamdi Asomugha will lead the league in interceptions
Asomugha often looked lost last year as he adapted to playing more in the slot than he ever did in Oakland. He was beaten in too many one-on-one situations by the kind of receivers he usually shuts down. Victor Cruz, in particular, abused him in their match-up in Philadelphia last year. Asante Samuel probably will not be with the team next year so Asomugha should enjoy more of a defined role playing on the outside. Teams proved last year they were not afraid to throw at him, which will provide him with more opportunities to create turnovers.
9) They will trade up in the Draft for an impact defensive player
Having an extra second round pick they received from the Arizona Cardinals in the Kevin Kolb trade provides them with enough ammunition to trade up for a defensive playmaker in April’s Draft. With three picks in the top 51, they have plenty of flexibility to explore a plethora of options. The Eagles are in desperate need of another linebacker or safety. All their talent on defense exists on the edges, but up the middle, they are very soft. If they are unable to pick up a linebacker or safety, do not rule out another pass rusher or defensive tackle.
10) The Eagles will finally have a winning record at home
They have been deplorable at home since 2009, the last time they were above .500. Last year, they were a comedy of errors in the fourth quarter. They have no home-field advantage anymore. Philadelphia used to be an intimidating place to play, but their impotence at home has removed any fear factor for other teams. However, they will return to their winning ways in 2012 thanks to a fairly easy home schedule with the Baltimore Ravens being their toughest opponent. An easy home schedule might keep them afloat for a while.
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