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Friday, May 25, 2012
Eagles: Dream/nightmare scenario

By Dan Graziano

AFC Scenarios: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Eagles in 2012.

Dream scenario (13-3): The Eagles believed they'd assembled a team last year that could be among the very best in the NFL, and they believe it still. They will need to play defense better, but new middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and that the year the rest of the players have now spent in the new defensive scheme should help them do that. Michael Vick will need to commit fewer turnovers, but his words in December and so far this offseason indicate a better understanding of his own level of responsibility. In the Eagles' dream scenario, Vick plays safer than he did in 2010 and smarter than he did in 2011, and the meet-in-the-middle result is one of the league's most productive quarterbacks. With DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy around him, as well as his own ability, he has no excuse not to be. The Eagles' dream scenario also has them leading the league in sacks again but covering receivers better this time, especially in the middle of the field. And it has Demetress Bell serving as a surprisingly good replacement for injured left tackle Jason Peters. If these things all come to pass, the Eagles will be capable of beating anyone on their schedule.

Nightmare scenario (7-9): Yeah, as bad as they were last year, they still managed to finish 8-8, and Andy Reid has had only one sub-.500 season since the turn of the century. In the Eagles' nightmare scenario, though, the turnover problem doesn't get fixed, the downgrade from Peters to Bell at left tackle messes with the entire offensive line dynamic, Vick gets hurt again and someone like Mike Kafka or Nick Foles has to start a half-dozen games. In the nightmare scenario, 2011 turns out not to have been just one down year for Nnamdi Asomugha but rather the start of a decline. Maclin can't regain his 2010 form the way he's expected to now that he's fully healthy, and Jackson remains a deep downfield decoy who keeps the safeties back and limits Vick's offense to smaller chunks of yardage instead of backbreaking big plays. The nightmare scenario, in which the Eagles finish under .500 in Year 2 of this big plan, sees the end of the Reid and Vick eras in Philadelphia and leads into a 2013 offseason of great change and upheaval in an organization that prizes continuity as one of its better traits.