The Eagles lost 11 of their final 12 games of 2012, including Sunday's embarrassing 42-7 defeat to the Giants. New York scored touchdowns on its first four offensive possessions after the Eagles opened the game with a successful onsides kick, and then Eli Manning and Co. played in cruise control the rest of the way.
Philadelphia's defense couldn't get off the field until the game was out of hand as Manning sat comfortably in the pocket and picked his passing targets with ease. It was something very similar to the blowout loss to Atlanta in the post-bye week game, the first with Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator.
It didn't matter much this year what changes the Eagles made on defense, and they made plenty. They switched out the coordinator. The fired the line coach. They moved personnel in and out of the starting lineup.
And it just didn't matter much at all, as evidenced by the way the failed to create pressure on the front end at the line of scrimmage and in the back end in the form of takeaways.
Now it's over and I'm going to try everything I can to not look back on the train wreck of a 4-12 season. Let's look ahead, instead, with optimism. There are going to be significant changes ahead, of course, and those are to be determined by those far above my pay grade.
What I want to do here is talk about this roster and hope, and certainly expect, the Eagles to look very critically at what they have to work with. As the Giants moved at will up and down the field on the Eagles, and as quarterback Michael Vick was chased in, out and all around the pocket, it was certainly clear that the talent gap between the teams was significant.
Simply put, the Eagles have to challenge every part of this roster. Who do you fall in love with on this team? The Eagles placed zero players on the Pro Bowl roster for the first time since 1998, and they cleaned house on the roster after that year.
So why not do the same here? The Eagles have plenty of assets with which to work -- room within the salary cap, a high draft pick (No. 4 in the first round, prior to the Oakland-San Diego game) and the willingness to wheel and deal.
Who are the must-have players here for next year? The Eagles like their draft class from 2012 a lot, and understandably so. Nick Foles may or may not be the quarterback of the future, but the Eagles need to challenge that position as much as they can. Do they use a first-round draft pick on a quarterback? Is there a franchise quarterback in the draft?
Really, on offense, other than LeSean McCoy, who would you consider an untouchable player? Evan Mathis is a fine left guard and Jason Peters, when healthy, is a Pro Bowl left tackle. Anybody else? I like Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson very much, and it would take a huge talent to overtake them, but still ...
The rest of the offense is up for grabs. Upgrade everywhere. Do what you can to improve the line of scrimmage and the playmakers and the depth. The Eagles just didn't score enough points this season and the red-zone issues have been on the conversation table for years.
As for the defense, it's time the Eagles get it right. They tried the free-agency band aid and it didn't work. There are a couple of pieces in place here with Fletcher Cox at defensive tackle and Mychal Kendricks at linebacker, but the Eagles have holes everywhere else. The defensive line isn't close to being dominating enough. The linebackers have been in and out for years. The secondary was a mess this season.
Blow it up? It's hard to do it in a single offseason, but the Eagles have to overhaul this side of the football in a big way and become more physical, get more playmakers and find a leader or two or three. The Eagles didn't make nearly enough plays behind the line of scrimmage and quarterbacks found it easy pickings against this D: The cumulative passer rating of opposing quarterbacks this season was a whopping 99.6, with 33 touchdown passes. The Eagles allowed 444 total points -- 49 directly on returns off of turnovers -- so the defense allowed 395 points. Do the math.
This season was a nightmare all the way around. The Eagles thought they had a good formula for a playoff-contending team, but the truth is that the Eagles were 180 degrees wrong. That 3-1 start snowballed the other way very quickly. Turnovers remained a killer -- the Eagles finished at minus-24 for the season -- and the red-zone offense wasn't nearly effective enough.
Leadership has to be a huge question mark after watching this team repeatedly miss opportunities to seize momentum during the course of games. The Eagles lost 11 of their final 12 games. They hadn't had a skid that bad since the woeful 1968 season.
The Eagles must be honest with themselves, starting immediately. The future of head coach Andy Reid is the leading question mark and he knows it. He acknowledged it after the game on Sunday, saying he would meet with Owner Jeffrey Lurie to discuss the future and that he felt confident that Lurie would "make the right decision for the franchise."
Beyond the head coach, of course, is the roster. General manager Howie Roseman has a massive job ahead. Everyone does. Four wins and 12 losses. Who woulda thunk it back in August? Or at the end of September following the win over the Giants?
But that's where the Eagles are right now. They have a roster to overhaul, and they have to be very careful to do it the right way.