Welcome to the NFC East, which looks as wide open as can be.
It is early in the offseason, of course, but when you look around the NFC East, you see four teams with a lot of work to do. The Eagles brought up the bottom of the division in 2012 with a 4-12, and just one win in the East, so clearly Philadelphia has the longest path to the top of the ladder.
But take a look around the NFC East and tell me that it’s like climbing Mount Everest? It’s not. No way.
Not when the Washington Redskins, who won the division in 2012, face an offseason and part of the regular season (maybe) and perhaps even the entire regular season ahead without the services of star quarterback Robert Griffin III, who suffered two torn knee ligaments in Sunday’s playoff loss to Seattle and then underwent surgery on Wednesday. His timetable for recovery is 6-8 months, and that is perhaps an optimistic view. Certainly, the Redskins are going to be without their starting quarterback for at least the entire offseason and maybe quite a bit longer.
Not when Dallas has a major change after another disappointing season and fires its defensive coordinator and has back-to-back 8-8 seasons and has missed the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.
Not when the Giants have some major questions along their defensive front four and throughout a defense that has some age and performance issues to discuss in the months ahead.
I’m not suggesting that the Eagles are going to magically rise to the top of the NFC East and control it as they did for much of the early 2000s, because we know that this franchise has a ton of work ahead from hiring the right head coach to improving the roster in several key areas to making the players who are here better in 2013.
But the gap may not be as significant as we thought going through the tough times of 2012. In the latter stages of November and December, as the Eagles struggled to the finish line of the season with 11 losses in their final 12 games, it seemed at times as if there were miles of distance between the top and the bottom of the division.
And maybe there is. I don’t know. I look at the NFC East and see no team remaining in the postseason. I see an NFC East that has major flaws in every city. The Eagles have more than the other three teams and there is no denying that by virtue of a 4-12 season, but we’ve seen how quickly things turn around in this wild, wacky and wonderful league.
I know that we’re immersed in following the Eagles’ search for a new head coach. It’s been a week and a half since the tenure of Andy Reid ended, and the Eagles are steadfastly working their way through a well-prepared list of candidates.
Sometime, and perhaps even soon, the Eagles will have a new head coach, a new coaching staff and will then turn their attention to the roster and we will start to see how this 2013 team takes shape. It’s not going to be long before we’re in March and in the midst of free agency, followed by the draft and the opportunity to get some immediate-impact players around whom to build for the future.
And where will the Eagles stand then, as we look at the rosters on paper and imagine wins and losses? My guess is that you, each and nearly every one of you, will agree that the NFC East is not as daunting as it seemed in October and November and December, and that if the Eagles play their hand right, they can vault right back into contention in the East.