Can the Eagles win the NFC East In 2016?

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Philadelphia Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie addressed the media on Tuesday, and discussed some of his expectations for the 2016 season. 

Lurie made it clear that he doesn't expect the coming campaign to be a rebuilding effort. Rather, he believes the Eagles should very much be contending for the NFC East title. 

Given how weak the division was in 2015, it is not a stretch to believe that it will once again be there for any team to claim in the coming year. 

But have the Eagles done enough to improve themselves and set themselves apart from the logjam of mediocre teams in the division?

At this point, it's a little hard to tell just how much the Birds have actually improved. Howie Roseman has done a remarkable job shedding a lot of the dead weight and undoing some of the damage that Chip Kelly did a year ago, but most of the team's improvements have been through addition by subtraction. 

There have been some solid, under-the-radar signings that will certainly help out. Brandon Brooks makes the offensive line much better than they were a year ago. Rodney McLeod and Leodis McKelvin will sure up the secondary. But there are still a lot of questions about this roster which makes it impossible for me to view this team as a favorite in the division. 

Is Doug Pederson really fit to be a good head coach in this league? The jury is very much out on that, and I'm sure he'll go through some growing pains in his first season as head coach.

Sam Bradford has been re-signed, but he's still yet to prove he can so much as lead a team to a winning record, let alone compete for a division title. 

The offensive line still has questions, with the wear and tear of offensive tackle Jason Peters being at the top of the list. Can any of the young wide receivers develop into reliable targets? Are the Birds really going to depend on injury-prone Ryan Mathews to be their top option at running back?  

The other elements to consider when evaluating the Eagles' chances to win the East are the status of the rest of their opponents. 

The Dallas Cowboys can't help but be better than what they were a year ago. Tony Romo's health is a major concern, but Dallas has a talented roster that is just one year removed from being a questionable call away from reaching the NFC Championship Game. 

The New York Giants are getting a fresh start now that the Tom Coughlin era has ended. They've spent some big money in free agency to replenish the talent on their defense, and the potent combination of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. can never be taken lightly. 

The Washington Redskins may finally be turning things around. No one wants to give the Redskins any respect, which is understandable given the history of the team under Daniel Snyder, but the fact of the matter is that they were the division's most complete team a year ago, and Kirk Cousins beat the Eagles twice last season, including a critical Week 16 game in Philadelphia.

The lazy narrative says that the Redskins will go back to being the Redskins, but the reality is that they're a more proven and accomplished bunch than the Eagles right now. 

To be clear, I do like the direction that the Eagles have been trending in over the last few months. I think they've made a lot of smart moves, and I'm curious to see what the Draft will bring. 

However, I'm not sure that this is a roster that's going to be ready to set themselves apart from the pack right away. A new head coach with a new system and new players may need time to grow and develop. The Eagles should absolutely be competitive within the NFC East in 2016, but expecting this team to win the division right away may be a bit unfair. 

Denny Basens is a contributing writer to Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @DennyBasens

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