The Eagles' 2012 season is one fans are eager to forget. And while Philadelphia may be able to move on in time, the sting of a 4-12 campaign won't lessen any time soon for the players. And that's perfectly fine with defensive end Trent Cole.
Going into the offseason, Cole plans on keeping the memories of this disappointing season fresh in his memory. He'll use them as fuel over the next several months.
"After going through a season like this, you can never forget about the season. I'll never forget about it," he said. "I'll take this all the way into the offseason; working out. I know a lot of other players will. And when we come back, we know we're not going to have (a season like) that anymore. That's not Eagles football and we know we're better than that. We're going to try and prevent that from ever happening again and go out there and win ball games."
Very few players on defense had a good year for the Eagles, but Cole's swoon was one of the most surprising. Between becoming a full-time starter in 2006 and 2011, Cole never finished a season with fewer than 75 combined tackles or eight sacks. In 2012, he ended up with 60 total tackles and only three sacks.
That drop in production seemed to be happening at every level on defense. And without an offense that could carry the team, it's little wonder the season ended the way it did.
"It takes a team to win a ball game," Cole said. "Individually, you have to do what you have to do, and you have to come together as a team. You can't go into the game and have turnovers and make mistakes. That's what will make you lose a ball game."
For the Eagles to improve on their four-win season, they will need a new identity. This will come, in large part, from the energy of a new coaching staff and the promise of a brighter future. But will the locker room chemistry change when the team is grinding it out through adversity during the season?
"It's going to have to change," Cole said. "And with a new coach, it's going to change. No matter what we say, it's going to change. That's just the way it is ... We all have to take full responsibility and try to change things around and do what we need to do to win."
With the season over and a new coaching staff to come, Cole is ready for a rebound, both on a personal level and as a team.
"Oh yeah, I'm going to get back there. I just think it's been a rough season on all of us," he said. "I think the season beat us up a little bit. But we'll be alright. We'll be back together again. I'm looking to have a good few years here."
History says not to bet against Cole. After all, he went from being a fifth-round pick in 2005 to an All-Pro and a two-time Pro Bowl selection. After a down season, expect Cole to regain his rightful place among the best defenders in the league next year.
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