Are the Eagles Ready to Take Back the NFC East?
It all starts today.
The Philadelphia Eagles begin mini-camp with 44 draft choices, rookie free agents and former practice-squad players participating in a three-day minicamp at the NovaCare Complex today through Monday.
The New York Giants went 9-7 last season, winning the NFC East by a one-game margin over the Dallas Cowboys and the Eagles - going on to win the Super Bowl
What will it take to overtake them as the division's top team?
I like a lot of what the Eagles have done through the NFL draft to improve, but is it enough to challenge in the NFC East and over-take the Giants?
It's one thing to get better and over-take the Giants, but the Eagles goal is to win a Super Bowl this season. To do that, you need to beat the best and the best right now resides in your division - the Giants.
If you can win the division, you get to be one of the top seeds in the playoffs and the advantage of that, playing at home in front of the best football fans in the world is tremendous. The trek to the Super Bowl is much easier with a first-round bye and potentially two home games.
But to do that you must overcome a really good New York Giants team who has been somewhat quite this off-season. They have lost a couple of role players like Brandon Jacobs, Mario Manningham, and Aaron Ross.
But are the Eagles ready to take back the NFC East?
If any team is, it's the Eagles.
The emphasis on the draft this year was defense, one area that needed an upgrade after least season. The Birds brought in first-round pick Fletcher Cox, second round linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry, plus fourth-rounder Brandon Boykin.
These additions have made the Eagles more athletic, deeper and faster on defense.
The Eagles have fared well in their head-to-head battles with New York, but now they need to become more consistent out of the division.
The Eagles do a great job of rushing the passer, which is still a premium in thing to do in this league. They struggles in tackling and coverage last season, two areas they hope this off-season has helped fix.
In are Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and Kendricks to help sure-up the tackling, gone is Asante Samuel who didn't fit the coverage scheme, making Nnamdi Asomugha a much more effective player.
Also added into the mix are Cox and Kendricks who should give the Eagles a boost on defnese. While Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins are solid contributors, the addition of Cox should give the interior of the line some much needed athleticism.
Adding Kendricks should sure up the tackling by the linebacking core. One of the draft's fastest linebackers, Kendricks is believed to be ticketed for the strong side in Philly after playing inside in Cal's 3-4 scheme last year.
Plus don't discount the addition of Vinny Curry. The Eagles had a first-round grade on Curry entering the draft, he was incredibly productive with a relentless motor in college and adds to the depth on the outside of the defensive line.
Brandon Boykin is another draft pick that could contribute right away - in the special teams game. One of the nationals top return men, Boykin was Georgia's all-time leader in kick return yardage and also returned a punt return for a touchdown.
He should provide a upgrade in the kick return game and if he can handle the punts as well, that would help keep DeSean Jackson out of harm's way and be used in only big situations.
While the defense tightened up as the season came to a close, they might show consistency over a full 16-game slate.
Did the additions in the off-season provide that? Today is the day we get our first look.