August 29, 2012

Back to football.

Roughly 11 months ago, I wrote a post about leaving the Philadelphia Eagles behind.

To put it mildly, I was frustrated. I was enjoying football less and appreciating other sports more. Sunday afternoons no longer had the same all-encompassing allure of years past, and the underachieving Eagles certainly weren't helping matters.

So, with the 2012 NFL season just about to start, how am I feeling about my footballs?

Well, I'd certainly rather live in a world with the sport than one without it, that's for sure.

As for the Eagles, I feel surprisingly hopeful. It might sound crazy, but I think that karma might be on their side. They didn't bring any new shitheads onboard, and they made good with some of their key veterans. If you value things like "chemistry" and "continuity," this year's team should have both in spades.

I like what Andy Reid and Howie Roseman did in the offseason. After one of the most disappointing 8-8 seasons in recent league history, it took some guts to run it back. This team was probably too talented to dismantle, but to try again with virtually the same roster -- not including picks and/or injuries -- is bold. And potentially stupid.

On paper, though, it's hard to argue with any of it. Talented players were resigned or extended. Promising rookies were snagged in what seems like a very impressive draft.

And the next in a long line of beloved backup quarterbacks has arrived.

The offensive line will be greatly weakened without Jason Peters; I wouldn't be surprised to see LeSean McCoy "regress" from All-Pro to Pro Bowler. At the very least, expecting 17 rushing touchdowns again is foolish.

It's also very unlikely that Michael Vick will play all 16 regular season games, which makes Nick Foles that much more valuable/prone to arouse controversy. But even if some people clamor for Nick "Mick" Foles-y, we all know that the team's going nowhere without Vick.

Which is fine; how many teams have two Super Bowl-caliber quarterbacks? Even with a "fragile" quarterback like Vick, it's asking a lot to stash another guy who can do more than just fill in.

Either way, we can say with almost near certainty that someone with a name (first or last) that ends in -ick will be at QB for most of 2012. Sorry, Trent Edwards.

It's a very talented team. Maybe among the best in football. But that and two bucks will buy you a bowl of soup; can Reid, Juan Castillo and Marty Mornhinweg turn these lovable scamps into a contender?

Obviously, Juan raises the most eyebrows. But at the end of last December, right before the finale of a very stirring football-themed post, I wrote this:
"Give Andy and Juan ... one more season to show what they've got."
And I'm glad I said that, because I still feel the same today. (That's the best/worst part about having a blog: Your opinions are retained forever, or as long as the Internet exists.)

Although a quick read through the terrific Eagles Almanac (summary: the team would've been better off playing a painfully simple base defense all year than struggling to adopt Juan's unnecessarily complicated schemes) threw cold water on some of that end-of-2011 optimism, I believe that Castillo will have learned from at least some of his mistakes. I think a full offseason, a slightly recalibrated secondary and a remarkably deep defensive line will bring forth an above-average defense, and the team can reenact the original 2011 strategy of "outscore the other team early and pound the shit out of their QB late."

Frankly, I'm still more concerned about the possible disappearance of NHL games than I am about the inevitable reappearance of NFL games. But that doesn't mean I won't be rooting for my Eagles, watching games (mostly theirs, but occasionally others) every Sunday and hoping that the luck of the Irish shines Philadelphia's way. It's nearly impossible to escape football in America; you have to be a hermit or an unrepentant dick to get away. And since I'm (mostly) neither, I won't even bother.

But I reserve the right, if need be, to write 2,000 more words about how much they totally suck come November.

No comments: