December 17, 2007. That's the last day the Eagles had a chance to win the Super Bowl, until now. Back then, the Eagles' playoff hopes were flickering for a full day and then some after beating Dallas. Then Minnesota beat Chicago on Monday night, December 17, and it was time for "wait till next year."
But now we're all back in the game. We've waited until "next year." Next year is here. The chase begins on the field on Tuesday morning when selected veterans and rookies practice at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, Center Of The Eagles' Universe until August 14.
Buckle up the chinstrap!
Hey, I enjoyed the off-season after an agonizing playoff period. We watched as the postseason moved along, capped by the punch-in-the-gut, give-them-a-lot-of-credit Giants' Super Bowl victory. Then the Eagles got into the action very quickly prior to free agency, releasing a couple of veterans and taking care of keeping the players they wanted to keep, kept.
In free agency and the draft, of course, the Eagles were as aggressive as anybody out there. It was an interesting ride to observe, as the front office first bolstered the defense with star power and then added to the offense with hoped-for firepower from some players relatively new to this NFL. In between, the Eagles signed and drafted players to give the roster a more, on paper, robust look to it with 80 men in at Lehigh at week's end.
Now let's see how all the pieces fit together.
This time just couldn't here fast enough for me. I understand what the Eagles think they accomplished in the months of 2008. I love this team, as I visualize how it will all unfold. If the season played out in reality as I have it in my mind now, well, what a great season awaits! A fast, physical, young, ball-hawking, butt-kicking defense will bring fury. Watch a secondary again rise to prominence and watch a kiddie corps at linebacker grow before your very eyes.
The offense? Wait and see. The offense will spread the field and bust defenses with the added speed, with Donovan McNabb giving the ball to Brian Westbrook a lot and with Five spreading the wealth around the rest of the offense, man, bring it on! Blitz the Eagles! Go ahead! Watch McNabb dump it off to Lorenzo Booker or DeSean Jackson and watch these kids run! Eat clock in the second half running the football behind a powerful offensive line.
Stay tuned in for special teams and watch a group that will blossom under coordinator Rory Segrest. That added level of talent at 80 men will translate to a much more successful special teams, everywhere.
I could go on and on, but you know where it's heading. And it's all just in my mind right now, in my daydreams and in my hopes.
Here comes training camp, A Most Glorious Time Of The Year. On Tuesday, the practice fields are going to have deep lines of Eagles fans forming, watching the same practice the team ran at the NovaCare Complex in the spring. And 45 minutes into that practice, that moment I've been waiting for, I'll turn to someone and say, ""I can't wait until they put on the pads.""
And that is when we'll get our next real taste test of the Eagles. The big story in training camp is how this team jells, matures, improves through three-plus weeks of camp and in four preseason games, and then we'll take this 2008 campaign to a whole new level, right?
For now, it's practice and, yeah, practice matters in the NFL. The Eagles have wrinkles to smooth out between now and September 7, as does every team, and we are going to watch the team iron 80 men into 53 men and go roaring into the opening quarter of the regular season.
The position battles and the off-the-field stories don't need any introduction for you. You have your preconceptions, I have mine, Andy Reid has his. What happens on the field, how the players play, is what matters now.
Training camp is here and every day is a new learning experience. The team heads to Lehigh, ready to bunk together, live and get to know each other and to make this football team ready to beat St. Louis in Week 1. It is a miserable, exhilarating, exhausting time.
It is the best time of the year, to now.
It is football season, with Day 1 in sight. I'm out of words. I feel I've done little more than fill space since the spring camps ended and you probably agree if you spend much time here. What is there to say? What I think is what I think. Now, words mean nothing, and performance means everything, the way it should be.
It is time, then, for the Eagles to put up. Put it all up. Lay it all on the table. The season is here, thank goodness.