EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- The Eagles and their fans have spent much of this season asking the same burning question: "What went wrong this season?"
From the outset, the Eagles looked like a team with the talent to go the distance. But it didn't take long for the season to go awry, and the team closed out its season on this chilly Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, losing to the Giants by a score of 42-7.
When asked after the game for his thoughts on any potential changes this offseason, wide receiver Jason Avant was frank – all the changes in the world won't matter if the players aren't held accountable.
"I'm not a GM, so I don't know (what will happen)," he said. "But one thing I do know is that we need guys who will buy into a system, no matter if it's Coach (Andy) Reid's system or anything else. I'm hoping and praying it's Coach Reid. But if that's not the case, we're still going to (need to) have the players to be responsible and also accountable and not to allow the amenities of the NFL to distract them from what the game is really about, which is playing hard for the team; playing hard for the City of Philadelphia. I think that was part of the distraction."
These are strong words from Avant, though he is certainly qualified to say them. He's one of the leaders in the locker room and has built a reputation a player who consistently backs up his talk. As a receiver, he is as sure-handed as they come. And as a professional he is willing to do the dirty work that doesn't garner headlines but is still critical to an offense's success.
Avant was asked to compare the locker room of the 2012 Eagles to that of his earlier days in Philadelphia. As a rookie in 2005, Avant was surrounded by some of the greatest Eagles in franchise history. Those players, Avant said, were a critical part of the foundation for the Eagles' success over the last decade and a half.
"But you have to think about it. We had (Brian) Dawkins and (Brian) Westbrook and (Jeremiah) Trotter and different guys like that," Avant said. "I think you had a more mature team (then), and I think that this team will be better than that, but the young players have to mature as well."
To Avant, being in the NFL goes beyond collecting a paycheck and playing hard in big moments. Successful organizations are built by the players who have pride in what they do. Giving up, Avant said, doesn't translate into wins. For the team to be successful moving forward, everyone will have to be on the same page.
"When people don't go as hard as they ought to or they lay down or different things like that, it's a reflection of the players and the type of individuals that you have out there," Avant said. "I think it's one of those things that has to be corrected for next year. I think that has to be a total buying in by the players for the coaching staff."
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