PHILADELPHIA is about to repeat as NFC East champions. Fans of other divisions would shrug and say that’s no big deal. It’s just a division title. Fans in THIS division know that’s far from true. In most years, the NFC East doesn’t produce a winner. It produces a survivor. Which is why since the 2004 – 2005 season, no team in the division has won it back-to-back years.
This year however, the Eagles are looking like they’re going to change that.
Signing RB Corey Clement was a subtle move, but by no means was it small. Social distancing policies have prevented all teams from having Organized Team Activities, and mini-camps. Teams use those periods for things like:
*Offseason workouts to help the team bond and develop chemistry.
*Introductory physicals, and on-site physical therapy by renowned experts.
*Retired veterans who come in to talk to rookies about money, agents, balancing life, etc.
*NFLPA sending reps to discuss insurance, union dues, obligations, legal protections.
*Meetings to discuss core concepts of the system, and Q and A about the playbook.
Teams are trying to do some of this OTA and mini-camp stuff, digitally. However, it’s efficacy has no standard by which to reliably measure it, only to compare it. Also, many teams never got an in-person look at most (or in some cases any) of the athletes that they drafted. Yet they have to go right into Training Camp mode, and immediately begin evaluating players to see who stays and who goes.
This process will be harder on the Cowboys, giants, and Redskins, because all of them have new coaches who have to get to know their teams, and install brand new systems on offense and defense. The odds that they could overlook a gem, and leave talent on the cutting-floor is now more likely than not.
The Eagles have the same coach and (mostly) the same systems from last year, so they don’t have to worry about that steep team-wide learning curve. Which is where a simple move like signing Clement (who already has mastery of the system), will pay huge dividends.
Moreover, there have been rumblings in the last week or so, about the Eagles bringing back LT Jason Peters and LB Nigel Bradham. These would be genius level moves. Bradham would immediately erase our hole at LB, and give the young guys a real LB (not a tweener) to learn the trade from. Peters would immediately ease any doubts people have about LT Andre Dillard, by giving him a little more shakedown time, as well as being on-hand to mentor him.
So last year’s champs have a massive head start. Oh yeah, and this can’t be repeated enough: The Eagles went 5 – 1 in the division while running on fumes, and still won the East. This season the team gets back firepower they hardly got to use last year, and then added to it.