The Philadelphia Eagles head in to today's match up with the Miami Dolphins with a 4-8 record. That's an abysmal record for a team that backup quarterback Vince Young dubbed the "Dream Team" in the preseason. With all of the talent the Eagles have on their roster, they should be dominating the NFC East, if not the NFL, instead of sitting at the bottom of the division, having lost four of their last five games. But, therein lies the difference between the NFL on paper and the NFL on the field.
I recently asked JasonB of Bleeding Green Nation, SB Nation's Philadelphia Eagles blog, about the slow start, and if it could be contributed to the lockout.
"I don't really buy that excuse for any team to be honest," Jason responded. "Fact is that everyone had the same short offseason, so I don't really see how it's an excuse for some teams and not others. And even if it was valid, the excuse had to run out after week 3 or 4. So I have no doubt that the lack of offseason did affect this team, but we're 12 games into the season at this point. Guys are in shape, they know the system... It's just not an excuse."In the end, I think the reason is a lot more simple. They just weren't as good people thought they were."
I will say, I have to disagree a little with JasonB on this one. While everyone had the same short offseason, and every team had to deal with the same amount of time, I think the lockout affected some teams more than others. I think Philadelphia was affected by it. I think the Dolphins were as well. The Eagles brought in a ton of new players, and threw them together. It was going to take some time to gel.
In Miami, the idea of stars coming together and needing some time to figure each other out is a very easy one to understand. The Miami Heat, to which Young compared his Eagles, got off to a slow start last year as LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the franchise. In Philadelphia, the same problem existed.
And, in Miami, I think it existed. Brian Daboll came in and changed the team's offense - only to not be able to install the offense during a typical mini-camp offseason. The Dolphins changed out their starting two running backs, bringing in Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas as Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown departed. The team cut starting linebacker, and heart of the defense, Channing Crowder, replacing him with Kevin Burnett. It also did not help that players such as Karlos Dansby reported to training camp overweight. And, after spending January to August away from Florida, adjusting to the south Florida heat and humidity took its toll on several of the players.
But, I will agree with JasonB on his statement that the excuse has "run out." While I do not doubt some teams were hit by the lockout differently than others, teams should have figured it out and be on the right path by now. Philadelphia does not appear to be on that path yet. I think they will get there eventually - but it may be 2012 by the time that happens.