Back in late July/early August, as the Eagles were compiling a roster of stars, something was missing. There indeed was a dream, but no sense of team.
Now, even with the Eagles’ dream officially dashed, the 53 players truly have become a team.
A strong sense of togetherness finally enveloped the locker room in the days preceding Sunday’s win over the Cowboys. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the players simply didn’t know each other in the early days of the season, and it took time for them to feel comfortable with each other. They now do, and they had a strong sense of confidence about their chances of success in the postseason.
Thus, despite being eliminated from playoff contention, where the Eagles potentially would have been one of the most dangerous teams in the entire field, the players believe that, with a full season together and a complete offseason to continue to work toward the same goal, they’ll be a much better team in 2012.
Of course, the Dream Team will undergo inevitable changes, from a player and possibly a coaching standpoint. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo may have done enough down the stretch to stay. Then again, maybe that all hinged on making it to the postseason.
From a personnel standpoint, the biggest question mark arises from the status of receiver DeSean Jackson. After Sunday’s win over the Cowboys, he pointed to that sense of team in explaining his desire to stick around.
“Our future is going to be bright,” Jackson said, via CSNPhilly.com. “This is really our first year playing together with the new additions, and it’s a year under our belt, so next year we can come back and keep doing what we’re doing.”
And so the team with the highest expectations since the 2000 Redskins (who also failed to make it to the postseason) already is building excitement and, yes, high expectations for 2012. The difference next year could be that the Eagles will have a much better chance of living up to that standard.