Hey, it's me! Nope, not Derek, this guy.
(I apologize in advance for hijacking IgglesBlog, but my login still works. So. There you go.)
I used to work here, and despite my best efforts, I just couldn't let the first season in the post-Andy Reid Eagles era kick off without blathering on and on about what I think is going to happen this year. So. Here we go with my quick-twitch prognosticatin' about the 2013 Eagles.
(I'll warn you in advance that I'm a terrible gambler and tend to be completely delusional about the Eagles. Just wanted to put that out there.)
What I Desperately Hope Is Going To Happen, Presented By The Parts Of My Brain That Thought It Was A Good Idea To Invest In A Season Ticket For A 4-12 Team When I Live 100 Miles Away From The Stadium (tm)
Nobody sees the Chippah coming! He's got a secret offense that will change the game! All the sports science will keep our guys healthier than other teams (except for ACLs, those are exempt)! The young players on defense will mature quickly! Jason Peters and Shady go for 2,000 yards and 18 TDs! The Birds will dominate in the third and fourth quarter due to superior conditioning and magical smoothies! They get some turnover luck and big plays on special teams and steal a couple wins! The rest of the division all has warts, and if the Birds can just make sure the first half of the season isn't a disaster, Chippah will get smarter/ better as the season progresses and they can make a late run!
In that scenario, youse guys can all crash at my place for the Super Bowl.
What I Actually Think Is Going To Happen, Presented By The Part Of Me That Watched The 2011 and 2012 Eagles (tm)
Sign me up for 6-10.
I want to believe, I do. But believing requires a conviction that a magical transformation has already occurred and an Entirely New Team in terms of scheme, talent and tendencies will be wearing midnight green this season.
I don't think that will be the case.
That is, the problem with this team, for me, is that the difference between the 2012 Eagles and the 2013 Eagles is Chip Kelly, but not much more. I'm actually (very) sold on the Chippah, and think he'll be worth a few more wins based on (a) ability to scheme at a level that's evolved enough to make a difference in a 3-4 games, (b) better in-game decision-making and adjustments than the last 7 years of Big Red, and (c) an obvious improvement on special teams.
They still don't have a quarterback. I mean, I desperately want to believe in a Whole New Mike Vick. With all of my soul. And maybe on another team where the plan wasn't to rely on the offense to score 30+ points every week that could happen. I'm just not convinced Vick can protect the ball and stay healthy, and the burden of proof is on him at this point.
The offensive line is a flashing injury risk (we're banking on Peters, Kelce and Herr-Dawg staying healthy?), there isn't depth at wideout, and I'm not convinced at tight end (think Celek is 1.4 vicious shots away from being done; Ertz is too young; Casey is a mystery). I do think the running backs will be a treat to watch, though. All three of them, actually.
And the defense. Oooooooooh, the defense. I can't believe we're at a spot where the defense looks worse on paper than a year ago. And they do. They absolutely do. Your incumbent players don't fit the scheme, and the replacements are mostly replacement-level. Maybe they make up the difference with "grit" or some crap like that, but I'm dreading four months of post-game quotes about "gap discipline," "fit" and "just need to clean a few things up." The defensive line will seem interesting because guys we didn't expect to play much will play a lot and make some plays (maybe Ced Thornton is a starter! look, it's Bennie Logan making a tackle!). Kendricks is a player. But. What else? Oh, the part where I thought the secondary would be untalented but at least likable (because anything had to be more likable than Nnamdi). Dude. I suppose Cary Williams could charm me by destroying RGIII or Peyton Manning over the next month, but he almost feels like he's gunning for the Jason Baboon in-season dismissal at this point.
I desperately want to believe that they Eagles can't be horrendous for a third consecutive year in net takeaways (shouldn't reversion to the mean overpower the part where these guys have been sloppy with the ball two years in a row?), but the burden of proof is on them.
The assistant coaches, to me, seem pathetic. Davis isn't a secret genius; he feels replacement-level at best. And Shurmur seems like a complete stooge -- a guy who got hired because someone told Chippah he needed a staff with NFL experience and, oh yeah, that guy used to work here and he was a head coach. Chippah's calling plays, he's going to design the gameplan and scheme, and I bet he was able to figure out those vaunted NFL Passing Concepts in a few hours of whiteboarding with Shurmur.
The 2012 Eagles were terrible. Seriously bad. They weren't fun to root for, and they weren't fun to watch. I think this year's version will be at least be fun to watch. I'd love to see a team that doesn't commit a ton of penalties, that ambushes a few unsuspecting DCs Shower Room-style (YOU JUST WALKED INTO THE WRONG GODDAM ROOM: The Rock (1996) - Shower Ambush and those games will be awesome), and wins a couple games they're not supposed to.
But it's not happening this year. Too many of the same guys will overpower all the cool new stuff. It's roughly the same story, only with an optimistic spin instead of a literal funeral and then a long farewell.
(That said, I'm all in on a Super Bowl run. Long live the Chippah!)