The 2012 NFL season slogged on interminably for Philadelphia Eagles fans after a promising 3-1 start through the end of September. From there, the Eagles dropped eight straight, lowlighted by a four-game stretch of double-digit losses to conference opponents that left them virtually eliminated from division contention by the week before Thanksgiving.
What's to suggest an immediate turnaround for a team that ranked 29th in the league in both points scored and points allowed last season? Those 22 fumbles while jarring loose only five? The 33 passing touchdowns they gave up while forcing only eight interceptions?
For one thing, the Eagles obviously can't be much worse than they were last year. Chip Kelly steps in as their new head coach — much as Andy Reid had done 14 years prior, taking over a rapidly regressing team under Ray Rhodes — with almost nowhere to go but up.
Reid made good on that challenge, improving his club by two wins in his first season and then rattling off five years of aggressive prosperity: 11 wins in 2000 and 2001; 12 wins in 2002 and 2003; and the capstone 13 wins in the Super Bowl campaign of 2004.
Here are three reasons why, when all is said and done, the Philadelphia faithful may look back on 2013 as the year the Eagles regained traction as a competitive force in the NFC East.