Into The Unknown

Tonight begins the new NFL season.  That’s something I’m usually pretty excited for, but this year there’s something sort of missing.  Every year for the last decade at this time, I’d be looking at the Philadelphia Eagles and deciding whether Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Brian Dawkins could win the division, win the NFC, or even win the Superbowl.  Some years, I was more confident than others, and the Eagles have been good — perennially in the playoffs (8 times in 10 years, with 5 NFC Championship game appearances).  But after being dismissed in successive games by their nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys (who were themselves dismissed by the Vikings a week later), Team Green made a significant overhaul of the squad.

Half the defensive starters have been moved out – with apparently an eye towards increasing last year’s weak pass rush.  But improvements on the defensive line and especially at linebacker seem balanced by a weakening of the secondary – in other words, they’re betting the farm that they can harass an opposing QB before he finds the inevitably open receiver downfield.  That might lead to an ulcer.

However nothing’s more glaring than the trade of Donovan McNabb and the release of Brian Westbrook.  Those guys together accumulated a lot of yards for the Birds and it’s hard to imagine an Eagles team without them.  They’ve been replaced by youngsters LeSean McCoy and Kevin Kolb.   Kolb has looked good-but-not-great in his time as a QB, though Andy Reid says he’s “his guy” – it’s hard to think that he’s an improvement (at least in skill level) over McNabb — now playing for division rival Washington, which still feels all sorts of wrong.

Skinned

A look at their schedule and I just have no idea how good this team is going to be.  Their schedule isn’t terrible, but looking outside the NFC East, I see what ought to be wins in games against DET, JAX, and CHI and likely losses against GB, IND, and MIN.  The other non-divisional games against SF, ATL, TN, and HOU seem to be toss-ups against other middling to hopeful teams and 3-3 against the division seems reasonable.

What’s that mean?  Probably 8-8 and not in the playoffs – though if you told me they were going to be 5-11, I’d be disappointed but not surprised.  The inverse (11-5)?  For the first time in a decade, I don’t really think they can get there.

Who knows — like any season there will be surprises, but this uncertainty is pretty weird.

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11 thoughts on “Into The Unknown

  1. It sounds like the unknown is causing you to have some anxiety. You have spent the past 10-15 years knowing what you were probably going to get. You had McNabb, and Westbrook and usually a pretty good defense.

    Some things:
    1) Kevin Kolb is one of the few QBs in NFL history to have 2 300-yard games in his first two starts. He has shown that he can throw the football.
    2) Andy Reid is a pretty good coach and is a great offensive coach. The players are there on offense to score a lot of points.
    3) Your first game is really tough. I think the Packers are a worthy Super Bowl contender this year. Winning the first game would really help with momentum but it will be a tough game.

    It could be worse, you could have Jay Cutler as your QB. All he cares about is dating Kristen Cavalari from the Hills.

    • Yeah — you know I just have that “change is bad” knee-jerk reaction. I think Kolb will have those sort of games where he looks great, but you know he’s going to do some sort of bone-headed thing to deep-six a game. He’s got a lot of weapons on offense — this team ought to be able to hang some crooked numbers on people. And I agree about the unluckiness of drawing the team that might be the best in the NFC in week 1.

      All the previews I’ve seen predict Da Bears are going to be pretty bad this year. I think Cutler is terrible– and he’s a cancer on the squad.

      What do you think of the new site?

  2. Two things:

    1) *I’m* weirded out about McNabb playing for the ‘Skins. I can only imagine how you feel.

    2) One of the truly awful things about being a Vikings fan is that they tend to lose games that they really should win. So you’ve actually got a pretty good chance there.

    • You know, even though it’s the Redskins, I’m actually hoping McNabb does well. Of all the other NFC East teams, I can stomach Washington’s success much more than the Gmen or the Cowboys.

      The interesting thing about the Vikings-Eagles game is that it’s late in the season, so it will need to be seen who’s playing for the playoffs — and whether Favre can stay upright that late.

  3. Pingback: Face of the Franchise | Stevil

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