"The 8-8 [record] is unacceptable no matter who you have on the team," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "With that being said, [having OTAs is] going to help us more. I think it's going to help us overall."
They will, to be sure, benefit from having a full offseason to work together. But so will Washington and Dallas and the Giants. So will the Packers and Falcons and Saints. Well, maybe not the Saints. They're still trying to figure out what hit them.
There are no advantages or disadvantages in May. There is only the opportunity to start working toward the next season rather than continue reeling from the events of the previous one.
"With the expectations and us not only not meeting our goals but not making the playoffs, we learned a lot," running back LeSean McCoy said. "I think it humbled us. With all the big-time players that we have, we really have to check ourselves and go into the season to prove ourselves. I really think all of the hype is out the window and it's a new year. I think there's a lot of pressure for us as players because we fought hard for our coach and he's back here again. We have to make sure we do the right things."
Last year, the Eagles got a lot of attention and praise for boldly adding new players: Nnamdi Asomugha, Vince Young, Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steve Smith, and so on. This year, the organization got a lot of attention and praise for re-signing a bunch of its own players: McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole, Todd Herremans, and Evan Mathis.
That seems counterintuitive on a couple of levels. If expectations were high because they were aggressive, how does it raise expectations to be less so? And why is it considered such a coup to lock up the men responsible for that 8-8 record, anyway?
But the biggest complaint about the 2011 Eagles was that they were much less, on the field, than the sum of their parts.
"I think we brought so many new guys, who were excellent players, but we didn't jell together, take care of business, and get familiar with each other," McCoy said. "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 onto the field and practice together. I think it's big and very helpful to us."
Those parts can and should add up to much more this year. Once the decision was made to stick with coach Andy Reid, it made perfect sense to give this group of players a chance to be a team.
That, more than anything, was missing last year. That sense of team. Maybe the criticism and humiliation resulting from all those turnovers, the blown fourth-quarter leads, the 4-8 start, the outright lack of effort at times - maybe going through all of that together will help this group bond in a way it couldn't before.
"Absolutely," safety Kurt Coleman said. "What it really does, it builds a lot of character in all of us. We went through a lot of adversity last year, ups and downs, highs and lows, and it really just built us to where we're going to be this year. We know you can't go out and talk and say you're going to win every Sunday. But you can work hard and bring everything you've got every Sunday."
Coleman, who is at the top of the depth chart at safety, said something that was echoed by a couple of teammates:
"Last year, I think we did take things for granted because we had a talented team. We didn't always put it together. We lost our edge. This year, we're not going to talk. We're just going to go out there and work hard. I'm loving that. I love what we're about. I love being around this team."
It will be months before the Eagles have a chance to prove themselves as a team. For now, they are a bunch of guys running around in shorts. It's a start.
Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844, email@example.com, or @Sheridanscribe on Twitter. Read his blog, "Philabuster," at www.philly.com/philabuster
Read his columns at www.philly.com/philsheridan