The Eagles and their fans want to rework the magic of last season, and hope for it to have a much better ending this time.
Last year's camp started off with a feeling of security, almost bordering on cockiness. Both us, the fans, and the team itself knew it would be destined for greatness. As it happened, the season turned out much different than expected, with the ending being the biggest surprise. Deflated doesn't even begin to describe the feeling that enveloped the team, the city, and all of it's fans.
Fast foward 7 months, to July. It's time to report to the Big Redhead at Lehigh University's grounds, in hopes of beginning a new season of magic.
Hope. That's the key word here.
The off-season was tumultuous, to say the least. Many people at the heart departed the team, including some of the greatest ever at their humble positions, kick/punt returner Brian Mitchell and punter Sean Landeta. Sure, they were old, but the signs of aging just weren't apparant enough.
Of course, the most significant departure was the heart of the heart of the team, Hugh Douglas, leaving. It's a compelling argument as to whether or not his departure is actually that detrimental to the defensive line, but i'm not focusing on that, here. The fact is, he was the emotional catalyst of that team, and ever since injury and personal problems ceased for him in 2000, has been one of the biggest influences in their turn for the better. Emotion runs a football team, moreso than talent. You have to speculate how the team will be effected emotionally by his absence. Can Donovan take over as the emotional leader? Will it be a defensive player, being how defensive-oriented/powered they are? Will their passion run as high and far as Hugh's?
No significant members were added through free agency, although we had an incredible draft. Jerome McDougle, the biggest pull, has a last name similar to Douglas, so until we see how he thrives at the big leagues, at least we have that much. Other than that, it's a bunch of unknown denominations, considering nobody can gauge college athletes and unknown free agents. We can only hope that the scouts are doing their job well.
Just as we can only hope for the emotion to still be there. And we can only hope that there are no major voids to be filled. And we can only hope that Donovan finally is fulfilling 75% or more of his potential. And we can only hope our secondary continues to be the best in the league. And we can only hope that the Duceman is back for good. And we can only hope that we continue to have the most powerful special teams unit in the NFL. And we can only hope that the new digs suit the team well. And we can only hope that the magic took a temporary hiatus for that hideous game in January, and will return for the rest of this season.
We're in for a long season of hoping.