Coming into this season, I thought the Eagles had a good team, and I was not alone. Prognosticators picked them to win 10 or 11. Vegas liked their odds to reach the Super Bowl. Even some skeptical fans were on board.
Yet here we are with eight games left in 2012, their fate already sealed it would seem. The Eagles are going to miss the playoffs for the second year in a row, and Andy Reid will be out the door as soon as it's over.
How did we get here? Where did it all go wrong?
Did firing Juan Castillo backfire, sending the Eagles into their current tailspin, or hiring him in the first place? Was this season doomed from the start when Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles during the offseason? Or were they never good enough in the first place because Reid hitched his wagon to Michael Vick?
Was it a bad draft or drafts? A chemistry issue stemming from the influx of free agents? Hiring coaches who require scheme-specific personnel? A power struggle in the front office?
Or were we simply fooled into believing this team could be on the verge of taking the next step?
The Eagles were building toward this season for four years. The youth movement began in 2009, and the front office had successfully purged most of the high-priced veterans from the roster one year later. They used that cash to sign a bevy of free agents in the summer of '11, then spent this past offseason adding the remaining missing pieces, or trimming the fat where necessary. All the while, they were drafting every April, just like any other front office in the NFL.
If this is the final result of all that retooling, how could anybody mess this up so bad, and how did so many people buy into what the Eagles were doing in the process?
To borrow a line, ESPN NFC East blogger Dan Graziano calls it a study in miscalculation. From where we are standing today with the Eagles' record at 3-5, it looks like practically every move they made to get to this point has been wrong.
And if that is in fact the case, we are almost forced to admit where it really went wrong was keeping Reid for this long. Unfortunately, it's not simply the last handful of years the Eagles lost on that gamble. In hindsight, Reid's blueprint may have set the organization back for years to come.