At last, my prayers have been answered. Football season has arrived. Well, sort of. This marked the beginning of 2006 training camp for the Eagles and it could not have come at a better time.

The Phillies are wallowing well below .500 and analyzing why, over and over and over again, is getting played out. For many in the area, the start of training camp unofficially marks the end of the 2006 Phillies season. After all, this is known as an Eagles town first.

With the start of a new season come thoughts of a new beginning and of a hotly renewed rivalry. Are we really seeing the decline of the Eagles, or was last year just a blip in the radar screen? That's what the new season is for, to find the answers to every Birds question you have been pondering since T.O. looked so sad and lonely on his front lawn, apologizing to the masses for being a conceded SOB.

Personally, I believe last season was just a blip on the map; it doesn't represent the current state of the team. There are so many factors that went into destroying last season, most of which I'm sure many of you have played through your minds over and over again. Donovan McNabb wasn't healthy since the opening game of the season, the defensive line got no pressure, the secondary was unusually poor, and Jim Johnson wasn't his usually aggressive self. There are countless more factors, including injuries and T.O., but we don't need to rehash what was a horrible, forgettable season. Let us, instead, focus on the now, on what will happen this season.

Unlike many prognosticators, I believe the Eagles are going to have a strong season and rebound from last year's debacle. Yes, the wide receiving corps is not as strong as it was with T.O. in the mix, but there is plenty of young talent to suffice. Reggie Brown got more playing time than any other rookie wide out under Reid's tenure. He had an impressive rookie campaign and should, barring any setbacks, build on that this season. The return of Todd Pinkston gives McNabb a needed deep option, and Jabar Gaffney, while not a star, can be a solid addition to the crop of receivers.

The defense should be stronger than it was last season, with the addition of Darren Howard at defensive end, and with a solid rotation of tackles, the D-line should get pressure on the quarterback and allow Johnson to call his usual aggressive game.

McNabb is healthy again and can get back to playing the way we have become accustomed to seeing.

All in all, winning the division is not out of the question, in my opinion at least. Last season, aside from the blowout loss to Dallas, the Eagles had a good chance to win the other five division games. That's a five win difference and would have been an 11-5 record instead of a 6-10 record.

Many may think I'm crazy or overly optimistic, but it's a new season, I can be.

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