Maybe that ... whatever the word that works here ... hunger was missing from a team that collected talented pieces and hoped all of the intangibles, in addition to the on-field chemistry, would come together in time to allow the Eagles a chance to make a playoff run.
Didn't happen. I'm not about to go through the how's and why's and try to figure out where it all went wrong. The page has been turned. We're in 2012 now, and Training Camp, 2012, has gone remarkably smoothly. You've heard it before and we'll see how much impact it really has, but the mood around this team is unlike any in recent years. There is a sense that this team has greatness in it, and that the players want to work hard to scratch out every bit of ability here. The coaches say the players have embraced the concept of training camp, of being physical, of taking the right steps.
Of being hungry.
By all vantage points, these two weeks of training camp have gone as well as could be expected. There has been a smattering of injuries, but none -- as I again knock on wood -- that will linger into the regular season (perhaps Riley Cooper, but maybe not, and there is no update on Mike Patterson). In the big picture, the Eagles have made it through two weeks of intense practice and have come out the other side in good shape.
Head coach Andy Reid had seen his team build chemistry and fondness and, yes, hunger, in a short period of time. Every one of the players on the roster from last year were embarrassed at 4-8 in 2011 before reeling off four straight wins. Reid believes, deep down, that those final four wins kicked off some momentum that continues through training camp.
"It gave everybody a taste of what kind of team we could be," said Reid. "We've just built off of that."
There is still a long way to go in this preseason and nobody is getting too far ahead of the plan. It's a day-by-day proposition for the Eagles.
But the early returns are extremely positive. There is every reason to be encouraged. The Eagles are a team one year later. They have come together.
And it makes all the difference in the world.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- The players are going to benefit from Saturday's washed-out afternoon practice. They instead held a walk-through indoors, a light workout that provided a breather from a week's worth of pounding. Look for one more day, maybe two, of physical practice before tapering down to prepare for Pittsburgh.
- Roster Battle Update: It seems quite clear cut that Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman will start at safety. Jaiquawn Jarrett and Oshiomogho Atogwe are next in line and Tom Nelson and Phillip Thomas have gotten quite a number of reps. There is no word on when Colt Anderson will have a chance to join practice.
- I had an enjoyable interview with Mychal Kendricks the other day. Love the kid. He really gets, quickly, what the NFL is all about. And he looks like he's making the transition to the NFL as smoothly as could be expected. He's in line to gain instant playing time as the starting SAM linebacker. And he had a great quote about the difference between the NFL and college ball. "The offensive linemen here really know how to hold," he said, smiling. "They do it so well. They're great at it. If you show your chest, you're done."
- So, I'm keeping my eye on September 9 and the Browns' defense has suffered some major losses. Tackle Phil Taylor won't play in the game as he recovers from a pectoral injury. Strong side linebacker Chris Gocong, our old friend, is lost for the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon injury. That's tough news for a super young man. And Scott Fujita, another starting linebacker, won't play the first three games because of an NFL suspension.
- Spoke with Mike Quick on Saturday and he wants the Eagles to keep all four of the running backs who are having such fine training camps. "It's going to be hard to do," said Quick, "but if there's any way to do it. This is best group I've seen in a long, long time."