I'm counting down the hours, just like you. I have that fidgety, can't-get-relaxed feeling right now with training camp one week away. And I've thought at least one thousand times over the last few weeks about the season ahead, about the Eagles might fare. I know that, with the timing of camp around the corner, words mean less and less.
Actions will tell the story, not predictions.
I have time, just one last time, to gaze into the crystal ball. How are the Eagles going to win the Super Bowl? That is the question to be answered in the months ahead. That is the only goal that matters and that is the expectation for the Eagles organization. Win the Super Bowl or bust.
Are the Eagles good enough to win it all? Yeah, I think so. They have a defense that certainly seems to have every piece in place. The line is deep and talented. The linebackers are young and talented. The secondary has superb front-line players and quality depth.
Offensively, the Eagles return all of their pieces from last year's disappointing group, and have added a couple of players they think will aid the cause, running back Lorenzo Booker and wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The quarterback is healthier than he has been in years. The tight end is healthy.
The combination, of the offense and the defense, is as good as any team's in the league, on paper. From this perspective.
Special teams? Jackson is a key player here, expected to provide an immediate boost to a group that needs to be a whole lot better than it was a season ago. Coaching staff? In place. Proven. A winner. Schedule? I like it. You never know how a season is going to go, and many times the teams you think are going to be good turn out to be the ones that struggle, and the ones you look at as "expected" wins are usually nothing of the sort.
A lot of things need to fall into place for the Eagles to win it all, of course. I would think, though, that Eagles fans have the optimism that it can be done if the team plays to its ability and if it stays healthy and if a few breaks go the Eagles' way.
I guess it is the same feeling most teams have right now, and that is why the NFL is what it is: Every team has a shot. A legitimate chance.
In the Eagles' case, the sturdiness of the defense is what provides particularly confident feelings. I simply think this has a chance to be a special, special defense. I love the line, for starters. Trent Cole is a star right end. Mike Patterson is a proven, reliable, solid player at tackle. The rest of the line, I admit, has some how-are-they-going-to-fit-in? elements to it, but the bottom line is that I see a lot of talent and I believe that Jim Johnson and Pete Jenkins are going to make it all work. Instead of having to stretch out players and hope some of the backups can chip in, the Eagles have a deep group that is going to fighting for playing time. Chris Clemons got it done in Oakland last year. He doesn't come here to be a star, just a contributor. Juqua Parker doesn't have to be a starter who plays 55 snaps a game. He can be every bit as productive as he needs to be in 20 or 30 snaps. First draft picks of recent years Brodrick Bunkley (2005) and Trevor Laws (2008) have to be significant contributors, and Bunkley was that last year as he looks to take another step here.
All in all, defensive line is one of the most exciting positions on this team. I can't wait to see the crew line up over the next six weeks to see how it sorts out.
Linebacker? I don't know if I have been this encouraged by the group, as a whole. Ever. I see Omar Gaither fitting in perfectly at WILL, because he has played there in the past and has shown he has the foot speed to play well in coverage, which is always the big test on the weak side. Stewart Bradley, well, I will hold off for now. The guy has a chance to be a really terrific player, which is all I'll say for now. And Chris Gocong is going to be leaps and bounds better than he was a year ago, when he made a good transition to the SAM position.
The secondary? Shoot, it's easy to like what the Eagles have here on paper. Three Pro Bowl-quality cornerbacks, and a fourth, Joselio Hanson, who fits in well as the dime corner. At safety, a lot depends upon Brian Dawkins' health, but he has certainly done the right things in the off-season to get his body right.
When you have a chance to arm Johnson will all that talent and give him time to teach the X's and O's, it is generally a combination that works very well. Last year, in the bridge season for the defense, Johnson was able to keep the points allowed down, but the Eagles didn't have the sacks and the turnovers and the big plays they needed. Adding Clemons, Laws and Asante Samuel will help the cause, right?
Offensively, I think the Eagles are going to be fine. I know they don't have the "No. 1" wide receiver, but they have as good a complement of weapons for Donovan McNabb, top to bottom, as he has ever had. He has one of the best players in the game in Brian Westbrook. He has a good tight end in L.J. Smith. He has a group of receivers who give a different look, each one of them, within the scheme.
There are some ifs, of course. The offensive line has to establish itself, again, as one of the best in the game. Jackson and Booker have to assimilate themselves into the offense right off the bat. McNabb has all kinds of pressure, which goes with the territory. The fullback position doesn't have an answer at the moment.
But doesn't every team have questions? What are yours for the Eagles? How many serious ones do you have? Sure the Eagles have to hit on all the basics, they have to be sound and they have to play with a controlled desperation from Week 1 on. That's the same story around the league, though.
Training camp is one week away, and all of these words will officially mean nothing at all. The countdown to September 7 starts on Monday. Right now, just like you, I'm killing time. Passing the hours. Thinking of what could be.
I like what I've seen, what I've heard. I like what the Eagles did in the off-season, and I like how the pieces they have put into place will potentially fit for the next six months. Super Bowl? Yeah, the Eagles are good enough to win it all. I honestly believe that as training camp races closer, ever closer.