Eagles regular-season wrap-up

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
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Final Power Ranking: 15
Preseason Power Ranking: 4

[+] EnlargeLeSean McCoy
Dale Zanine/US PresswireLeSean McCoy was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing Eagles season.
Biggest surprise: Michael Vick's step backward. There is a lot of blame to go around for what went wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles this year, and we'll get to it all. But coming off a season in which he ran second in the MVP voting to Tom Brady, and continuing under the tutelage of Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, Vick was expected by many people to continue to build on and develop the brilliance of 2010. Instead, he was shaky and unreliable, turning the ball over way too much during an early-season swoon that knocked the Eagles out of playoff contention almost before they even started. Injuries to Jeremy Maclin and the weird year DeSean Jackson had pouting about his contract situation didn't help, but this isn't on the wide receivers. Vick must come back next season determined to be more responsible with the ball and continue the growth and maturation as a quarterback that he was showing in 2010.

Biggest disappointment: The team's inability to finish games early in the season cost it dearly. Blown fourth-quarter leads in losses to the Falcons, 49ers, Giants, Bears and Cardinals left the Eagles 3-6 after nine games and put them in too deep a hole from which to climb out. The defense took way too long to jell, with all of its new players, new coaches and new schemes. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the prize free agent of the 2011 offseason, showed up on other teams' highlight reels a lot more than he did on Philadelphia's. And the Eagles head into the offseason wondering if the strong finish their defense had under first-year coordinator Juan Castillo and new defensive line coach Jim Washburn was a mirage or a sign of what might have been and what could be to come.

Biggest need: The Eagles need linebackers in the worst way. Washburn's "Wide 9" defensive scheme was very effective at pressuring quarterbacks, and the Eagles led the league with 50 sacks. But they ignored linebacker when they were doing all of their signings last summer, and it showed up. The corps of rookies and young players they used at linebacker was unable to support the defensive line and left the team vulnerable not just to big passing plays but also to the run.

Team MVP: Running back LeSean McCoy. He didn't play in the final week of the season, and he got knocked out early the week before against the Cowboys. But he still ended up fourth in the league with 1,309 rushing yards and had 20 touchdowns, including a league-leading 17 on the ground. McCoy was the Eagles' best, most consistent and most dynamic player on either side of the ball. If anything, they leaned too hard on the pass and didn't use him enough late in games to help salt away those leads.

Front line legit: Two of the biggest free-agent signings were defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, each of whom had outstanding years. Jenkins was a force inside and was even able to move outside and play some end when needed. And Babin, who followed Washburn to Philadelphia from Tennessee, continued to flourish under Washburn's direction. He finished the season ranked third in the league with 18 sacks and now has 30.5 the past two years with Washburn as his position coach.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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