In the math world, that answer is no, it equals 180. However, for the Philadelphia Eagles, the answer very well could be 47…as in, Super Bowl XLVII.
Fittingly, though, the Eagles have to do a 180 if they want to reach 47.
59, 95 and 91 are the jersey numbers of newcomers DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Fletcher Cox. 34, 22 and 9 were the jersey numbers of the recently departed Ronnie Brown, Asante Samuel and Vince Young.
These are the key additions and subtractions that could ultimately be the difference in being a Dream Team or being a team that Eagles fans can dream about.
In DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles have finally added a blue-chip linebacker to man the middle of the defense. I never understood Andy Reid’s apparent aversion to adding a quality player at this position.
A middle linebacker is, after all, the quarterback of the defense. With Reid’s love of quarterbacks, why did he never invest more effort into finding a quality one for his defense?
People might say he “tried”, but how hard you try depends on how much you actually care about something, right?
Anyway, with the help of Howie Roseman, Reid and the Eagles finally got it right for once. Or, at least, it appears that should be the case.
Ryans is a player that has the entire package: physical ability, production, smarts, personality and leadership. Above everything else, he is exactly what the defense needed.
If Ryans is the proverbial cake, then Kendricks is the icing on top. He is already penciled in as the starter at strong side linebacker, which was another big area of concern for the Eagles last year.
All reports out of the Eagles’ OTAs so far have been nothing short of spectacular for Kendricks. He has shown great athleticism and natural ability in pass coverage. He is stoutly built, attacks the ball and if he were two inches taller, he would have been a first round pick in the draft.
When addressing the media, he has been impressive as well and sounds like a man with his head on straight.
Even though he’s a rookie, much is expected of Kendricks this year. He’s going to be thrust into the spotlight and should be a starter from Day 1. He could end up making the biggest impact to the team out of the Eagles’ 2012 draft class.
Unlike the musical chairs at linebacker last year, with sub-packages for sub-packages, Ryans and Kendricks will both be three-down players who rarely come off the field. This will help in not only the talent department, but with continuity and cohesion as well.
Another rookie that will be making his presence felt this season is Fletcher Cox, the Eagles’ first overall pick. Though he may not be a starter from Day 1, he will still get plenty of playing time in the Eagles’ defensive line rotation.
Besides Cullen Jenkins, and to a lesser extent, Derek Landri, the Eagles didn’t get much pressure on opposing QBs from the inside last year. This is what led the team to trade up and take Cox with the 12th pick in the draft.
With Jason Babin and Trent Cole terrorizing QBs off the edges, Cox could be the missing piece to give the Eagles an interior pass-rush presence that will make quarterbacks get happy feet in the pocket.
The additions of Ryans, Kendricks and Cox have the potential to transform the defense into a formidable unit. Each player addresses a sore spot from last season and appears to have turned weak areas into strengths.
On the flip side, the Eagles trimmed the fat off the roster by getting rid of useless players such as Ronnie Brown, Vince Young and Steve Smith. Also gone are Victor Abiamiri, Juqua Parker, Trevor Laws and Asante Samuel.
Samuel is the most heralded of the players no longer here, but his departure was necessary for multiple reasons. First, the Eagles need to see what Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie can do on the outside and that couldn’t happen with Samuel still on the team.
Secondly, Samuel was no longer a scheme-fit and his presence would have actually muddied the waters there a little bit. He was somewhat of a rogue player in that he liked to freelance and play it his way instead of playing within the defense.
I viewed Samuel as a playmaker and I wished there was a way for it to work with him, DRC and Nnamdi Asomugha. However, I knew it couldn’t due to the dramatic style differences of each cornerback and therefore having the ability for all three of them to blend well within the defense.
With Vince Young and Ronnie Brown gone, it opens up opportunities for young guys like Mike Kafka, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. It’s still early and they haven’t put the pads on yet, but given what we saw last season, any of these guys should be an upgrade.
One last addition and subtraction that could help the Eagles make a strong push for Super Bowl XLVII would be Brandon Boykin taking over for Joselio Hanson as the third CB.
Boykin will be given every opportunity to win the position in training camp, and I think he will. Slot cornerbacks play anywhere from 50 – 70 percent of the defensive snaps so assuming he wins the job, he will have a many chances to make his presence known.
Boykin should also upgrade the return game, which is another area where the Eagles need improvement as compared to last season. Last year, the return game was horrible where the Eagles were ranked 30th and 31st in kick and punt return yardage.
Simply put, they need more oomph in that department.
The Eagles made the right moves in not only adding players, but letting others go. So, when you add it all up and then subtract a few, it just may equal 47.