Where are they now: Trent Cole. 11 sacks a year ago, 1.5 to date in 2012. Where are they now: Jason Babin. 18 sacks a year ago, 4.5 through nine games.
Where are they now: Jaiquwan Jarrett. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. Currently camped under the bridge on the NFL streets after failing to grow as the Eagles hoped he would. Where are they now: Michael Vick. Comeback player of the Year in 2010. Now driving the Eagles to ranking 2nd in the league in turnovers. Where are they now: Bobby April. Formerly known as the best special teams coordinator in the league. Now his special teams sits 25th in the league according to Football Outsiders. Surely most NFL fans would agree with that judgement.
Where are they now?
They, accompanied by a plethora of have-nots, have paved the way to a depressing 3-7. The Eagles have crashed down after a 3-1 burst in the first month of the season.
The team must resign to the fact that there will be no steaming stretch run, no NFC East champion merchandise, no Miracle in the Meadowlands number 3 this year. The season is lost beyond hope, and the wait for 2013 has already begun. Sadly, there are still six games to be played, and not much else is left on the to-do list: a list that never got item 1 checked off ever since Andy Reid arrived in 1999 to do so.
The dichotomy of the offensive line haunts the Eagles play after play. One went down, then another, then another, and then another. And then there was one. So bad was the conundrum that recently signed Jake Scott stepped in to start Sunday after practicing four days with his new team. In all likelihood, none of the current starting five linemen will be here next year in significant roles, except Evan Mathis. Luckily, Jason Peters will be healthy for next year, as will Jason Kelce, with their injuries coming early in the year. Danny Watkins’ ankle injury will heal shortly, although questions have arisen over his play, and whether the team made the right move in selecting him in the 1st round of 2011. Todd Heremans will probably be fine for the season opener–oh that seems light years away–and could move back to right guard if the coach, whomever he may be, is not satisfied with Watkins. Subsequently, the Eagles could select a bookend tackle in similar to Tra Thomas in the 2013 draft, and could couple him with Peters for the next few years.
This still fails to answer the million-dollar question: why should we even watch Monday night?
At receiver, Riley Cooper will be given increased playing time again with Jason Avant’s nagging hamstring injury. Cooper has played admirably the past few weeks, and warrants a deeper examination on whether he can become a solid NFL receiver. With Jeremy Maclin’s injury issues and overall lack of production, he may very well be shown the exit door next year. If Cooper is the man for the job, then he can gradually replace Maclin as the teams’ 2nd receiver. Cooper will merit watching on Monday night.
At running back, the future seems bright. LeSean McCoy continues to remain at the top of the food chain among NFL rushers. With his recent concussion, however, the time is right to look at Bryce Brown. The young 7th round pick has shown glimpses of promise consistently throughout 2012, and against Carolina the team will be able to evaluate his play and, hopefully, conclude that he is suitable to back up LeSean McCoy.
Vinny Curry looks to be in line for his NFL debut this week, and with the poor defensive line play he has a chance to prove himself to the coaches, fans, and organization. A unique ability to stuff the run, Curry could be just what the defense needs to cure it’s tackling epidemic. Who knows if Curry plays well, he could open the door to the exit of Jason Babin and possibly Trent Cole after the season.
And finally, Nick Foles will start again with Michael Vick still not at phase 2 of his recovery. As said previously, the Eagles will not pay Vick his $16 million bonus if Foles proves he has the chance to be a great franchise QB. He has the chance to cement his starting role for next season Monday night against a blitz-happy defense. Holes will open up, and it will be Foles’ task to carve through them. The fate of the Eagles rests on it…
These “young guns” will finally march onto the field Monday night as they were promised a few years ago, when Andy Reid went out and relieved the team of it’s older veterans in hopes of establishing long-term chemistry and a new era of Eagles football. For some oblivious reason, that blueprint was lost at the bottom of the pile, the new movement was halted, to be replaced by “prized” free agents who were brought in to no avail. If the youthful Eagles can prove themselves promising football players, they will shape the course of action for 2013 and beyond. Now that’s something worth prime time TV.
Photo:s Onward State blog, PhiladelphiaEagles.com, ESPN