Oh, the Philadelphia Eagles. The only team in the famed NFC East without a Super Bowl on its franchise resume and the only team in the division that finished below .500 in 2012.
In terms of both their broad history and the "What have you done for me lately?" barometer, the Eagles are the division's least accomplished team.
At least they're being proactive this year, what with the new coaching staff, the fresh offensive and defensive schemes, and the significant roster turnover. However, in a highly competitive division—and with so much change to adapt to—the Eagles could be in for at least one more difficult year before they're able to make a fresh run at that first Lombardi Trophy.
I guess I've tipped my hand regarding where we'll predict the Eagles to finish this season, but here are some in-depth prognostications pertaining to the 2013 squad.
Offensive MVP: LeSean McCoy
I don't believe Michael Vick has the ability to make it through an entire season in that offense. He takes too many hits and could take more with all the running he's expected to do—and he isn't consistent enough anyway.
Both could have big years, but if Chip Kelly makes this a run-first offense as expected, the 25-year-old McCoy could be in for a career year.
Defensive MVP: Fletcher Cox
Anyone's guess here. Maybe Trent Cole redeems himself with a big year, but there's a chance all of those pass-rushing linebackers blend together. DeMeco Ryans could have a solid season, but it's tough to tell how that defensive transition will treat him considering it wasn't so smooth for him in Houston.
Cox, though, is an ideal fit as a three-technique end in that new 4-3 under scheme being implemented by defensive coordinator Bill Davis. He had a solid rookie campaign as a 4-3 defensive tackle and should keep blossoming in his second year.
Best Rookie: Bennie Logan
The third-round pick has been rocking out at nose tackle all summer. Lane Johnson is getting all of the attention among this rookie class and tired veteran Isaac Sopoaga remains a starter in the middle of that defensive line, but it might only be a matter of time before Logan takes over.
If/when that happens, look for the versatile LSU product to immediately become a force. His future is very bright.
Most Improved Player: Mychal Kendricks
Going out on a limb here. Really, it's probably Cox, but Kendricks has more room to improve and definitely possesses the ability to become a very solid NFL starter.
I'm expecting Davis and Chip Kelly to get a little more aggressive with him as a 3-4 inside linebacker this year, giving him a chance to spread his wings.
Biggest Disappointment: Cary Williams
He's got a big name because he started for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens last season, but Williams isn't a particularly good NFL starter.
He's feisty and aggressive, which I think Eagles fans will appreciate, but he also gets beaten a lot on short and intermediate comeback-type routes. The former seventh-round pick is a good guy to have on the roster, but ideally not as a No. 1 corner.
Why They Can Win the Super Bowl
Because anybody can in any given year. Maybe Kelly outsmarts everyone and maybe Vick finally puts it all together. They certainly have the talent on both sides of the ball, and these transitions can happen overnight nowadays.
Why They Can't Win the Super Bowl
That defense still looks like it's going to get torn apart, especially early on. The odds are stacked against Kelly in his first year as an NFL coach and Vick might not have any magic left at the age of 33.
Team Predictions: 5-11, 4th Place in NFC East; No Playoffs
Too many question marks in a tough division. I think this Eagles team is on the right track and I'm not ruling out the possibility that Kelly becomes a success story at the NFL level, but I do think it'll take some time.
Mistakes will be made in 2013, and hopefully the entire organization will learn from them.
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