Gone is Brian Westbrook and his serious, smoldering personality. Traded is Donovan McNabb and his loose-is-better type of leadership. The Eagles are the "young guns," to borrow DeSean Jackson's term, and as the players learn more about each other in the coming weeks and months, what kind of personality will emerge for the 2010 Eagles?
It is a question to consider, and an answer that won't come forth until the team has gone through some highs and lows and leadership asserts itself and the Eagles truly discover who they are and how good they can be. The team isn't even complete, not by a long shot, so to take a stab at wondering the collective "personality" is certainly premature.
But here goes, anyway. What we know about the Eagles as they stand right now is that they are a group of young, talented players, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. They have some obvious questions, yes, and there is work to be done in the weeks ahead. This is a team that certainly has a lot of energy and enthusiasm and high expectations.
And we know there is a collection of some diverse personalities. Jackson, for example, is a leader in his own way at an early stage in his career. Not so much for what he says, but because he has such an obvious love of the game and a work ethic combined with rare talent that has propelled him to a Pro Bowl level. Fellow wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is more of the strong, quiet type, an equally-hard worker with a star-talent level in his game. Tight end Brent Celek is an emotional player on the field, a tireless worker off the field and a leader in his own right. Would the Eagles, then, maybe follow Celek's role more as a fiery force and display that kind of emotion this season?
Kevin Kolb's demeanor has been as a cool, unflappable quarterback in his three seasons, but I'm not sure we have seen enough of him to properly judge. Kolb has a major intensity about him and he has never been afraid to light a fire under his teammates when he deems the time appropriate. His rise to the role of the starter here changes things, of course. This is now Kolb's team. This is his locker room. He has gone a long way in a short time asserting himself by establishing a rapport with his teammates even when McNabb was here. Kolb has always had the respect of his peers. Since the time the off-season program started, Kolb has been in the NovaCare Complex every day -- save the time he has been away attending to the birth of his second daughter -- working alongside his teammates and furthering the chemistry already there.
Kolb is a natural leader, and has been since he began the game. But now that he is in the heat of it, as the guy, Kolb is going to have to be a public face on and off the field. How many times did fans react when they saw McNabb smile after a missed pass? Didn't everybody read into his body language during the good times and the not-as-good times?
It is going to be the same routine with Kolb. We know enough about Kolb to be excited about his abilities, but he hasn't had the full-on scrutiny that playing quarterback in the NFL attracts. Each week we will learn more about Kolb and his demeanor and his relationship with the rest of the team and all of the intangibles he brings to the table.
The defense takes its cue from several players. Trent Cole and Brodrick Bunkley are emotional leaders on the field and extremely hard workers off the field. Mike Patterson is a quiet soldier. Stewart Bradley is a little bit of both, as is Quintin Mikell. Asante Samuel is the one who raises the level of competition during practice and who steps up to the challenge in game situations.
But what is the personality here? Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe it is just a media thing, or a fan thing. For years we always referred to the Eagles as "McNabb's team." The Eagles would go as far, the saying went over and over again, as far as "McNabb would take them."
It's very certain that any player reading this won't give a hoot about the curiosity. And Andy Reid has always arranged his locker room with a great vision and a balance of younger players and older veterans. He still has that mix, but with far few of the "older" side of players. He has plenty of young veterans who know the ropes, though, who know when it is time to step up and lead.
Now is that time. The Eagles have overhauled an NFL's generation of the roster in the past several seasons, and what we have is a fascinating collection of players and personalities that will come together in 2010 in a period of discovery. Does it really matter what the team personality is? Isn't winning the only thing that counts in this league?
Yeah, well, it does matter. We want to like this team. We want to embrace a team of younger players that hopes to do what the Eagles haven't done since 1960, and that is to win an NFL title.
For the first time in a long, long time, the Eagles don't have a singular face of the team. It is an exciting opportunity for a "new" Eagles team to develop. Young guns? Maybe. It is a fresh day for the Eagles. We're going to watch the wins and the losses, of course, but along with that comes a new personality to emerge. Who are these Eagles? Who is the face of the team? Is there one player, or do the Eagles go marching forward as a band of brothers, a collection of personalities as diverse on the field as they are in the locker room?
Questions, questions. The draft is nearly here, and soon another handful of rookies will step in and try to earn their places in the locker room. Jackson's personality, for example, made an immediate impact on and off the field here. Who is to say another rookie or two won't affect the team the same way?
We know that the Eagles have changed a lot on the field and, with that, off the field. Kolb isn't going to clown around for the cameras. None of the offensive linemen sing out loud as they walk down the hallways. The defensive backs don't have that one player for whom the reporters wait and wait and wait after practice each week.
What is here now? We'll learn step by step as the Eagles grow together into a team in 2010.