By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
After what was a disappointing 2011 season for the Philadelphia Eagles, many of the players pointed to the lockout and not having organized team activities and offseason workouts as a major reason the Birds struggled through the season.
“I think we brought so many new guys, who were excellent players, but we didn’t gel together, take care of business and get familiar with each other,” said Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. “Now I think it’s going to work out well for us because we have time to learn in the meeting rooms and come out on the field and practice together.”
Granted, other teams around the league were faced with the same situation and some managed to do well anyway.. For example, the San Francisco 49ers faced a similar situation with a new head coach and new schemes on both sides of the ball and were within an overtime of going to the Super Bowl.
But on the other hand, some teams were affected by not having OTAs more than others. On defense, the Eagles had several highly-regarded free agents and a relatively inexperienced defensive coordinator in Juan Castillo.It took the darn near the entire season for that unit and Castillo to be on the same page.
By the time that happened, the Eagles lost several games in the fourth quarter and were out of the playoff race by the final week of the season.The good thing was that they won their last four games to finish the year at 8-8.
And so the Eagles welcomed the 2012 edition of OTAS or “voluntary” workouts with open arms in hopes that it will be the launching pad of what they hope will be a special season.
“It’s a different feel, everybody’s comfortable,” said Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “We have these times to make the mistakes as opposed to come in the first game of the season and having to learn in games. It’s much better to have it this way than the way it was last year.”
Asomugha said that in addition to the three days they’ve spent during this first round of OTAs, the players on defense have had a chance to spend time with one another both on and off the field. He also said that playing well and winning the last four games of the season gives the defense something to build on.
“It’s not necessarily page one, it’s probably a new chapter,” Asomugha said. “If we’re going to us that metaphor, we’re still in the same book and it’s about building who we are as a team. Us winning those last four games was great, it gave us the confidence to say that we can do it. It’s a completely new year, our goal is building on it and building a great team.”
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Michael Vick is hoping to cut down on his turnovers. Last season, Vick threw 18 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. He also lost three fumbles. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes.
“Obviously, the turnovers because that’s something that can be corrected, and my accuracy,” Vick said. “Slowing down my feet and not getting too anxious and excited. I can do that from time-to-time and I have to work on it. If I do it, I will take my game to another level. I feel like I’m getting there, so I’m going to continue to work hard.”
But even beyond the Xs and O’s, the timing, the physical workouts, the Eagles are hoping to develop a sense of personal chemistry that will carry into the season, especially when times are tough.
“I think the big thing is camaraderie,” said Eagles tight end Brent Celek. “It’s the way you get to know somebody in the offseason because when that happens, no matter what anyone says, you dig a little bit deeper and a little bit harder if you like him.”