The Philadelphia Eagles are primed to begin their Super Bowl quest for the 2011 season. With all the big moves they’ve made, are they guaranteed at least a spot in the playoffs? There are several reasons to like Michael Vick and the Eagles’ chances this year.
I recently wrote an article outlining my main concern with this Eagles team (the offensive line). It had somewhat of a gloomy feel to it because, well, it’s a legitimate concern at this time.
However, I’m prepared to offer a more optimistic viewpoint as well. Therefore, I’ll give you six reasons as to why the Eagles will be playing football after the first week of January.
1. Michael Vick is on a mission.
Vick truly seems like a changed man since his days with Atlanta. And I’m not even referring to any “life lessons” he may have learned from his stint in prison.
I’m strictly talking about Vick, the NFL quarterback. He has embraced his role as a leader on this team. Everything he says and does, he says and does with confidence. His teammates look up to and admire him.
He is a “feel good story” with many players around the league and some have flocked to Philadelphia (or wanted to) just to be a part of what they believe he is going to do.
Players want to play for, and with, Michael Vick.
He has matured in many ways and has a tremendous work ethic. He has earned the admiration and respect of the Eagles’ organization as evidenced by the humongous contract extension he just signed.
He is beginning to become a student of the game rather than just a guy that goes out and makes plays. Once a player with his physical skill can be combined with a good grasp of the mental part of the game, the sky is truly the limit.
Best of all, Vick wants a championship. He believes that would be his place in NFL history and complete his storybook comeback in life.
He is also honestly motivated to give his all to the team and city that took him in under their wings and provided him with this opportunity. Winning a championship is the best way he can say “thanks.”
2. The Eagles have explosive playmakers at their offensive skill positions.
Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin would make for one heck of a starting fantasy football lineup. And if he’s not kept in to block all the time, Brent Celek has proven he can be part of that “fantasy team” as well.
Then, when you sprinkle in the likes of Ronnie Brown, Jason Avant, Steve Smith and Riley Cooper…who can stop them?
The Eagles should try running their version of the “run and shoot” offense and just send four wide receivers out every play. That would leave LeSean McCoy open all day out of the backfield.
If you can’t hit one of the receivers, dump it to McCoy and gain 20 yards. In reality, I know this can’t happen but when you think about the talent the Eagles have, it just makes you giddy!
3. The defense should be vastly improved.
Last year, the pass defense and red zone defense were downright horrible. So how do you fix such a problem? Make moves for good players, that’s how.
They brought in two pro bowl cornerbacks in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. They’ll combine with Asante Samuel to form what promises to be the best CB trio the NFL has ever seen.
Pass coverage improved, check!
But they didn’t stop there. They also brought in the best defensive tackle on the market in Cullen Jenkins as well as a top-two defensive end (on the market) in Jason Babin.
And as an added bonus, it appears that little-known defensive end Phillip Hunt is a player that will contribute this season. He just may surprise some people, including me.
Pass rush improved, check!
I’ve written before about the sad shape our linebacking corps are perpetually in under the Andy Reid regime. But you know what? Apparently it doesn’t really matter for this team.
Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Moises Fokou and Keenan Clayton will be “good enough” to accomplish their goals this season. Maybe they’ll even make a few plays and surprise us.
With a defensive coordinator who is making things less complicated and a defensive line coach renowned for getting the best out of players, this defense could be fearsome.
4. The Eagles have a team that can hang with the Packers and Saints.
Green Bay and New Orleans seem to be everyone’s favorite pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year. The funny thing is, since neither of those teams won their division last year the Eagles don’t have to face them in the regular season.
The Packers and Saints are known more for their power-house offenses, although the Pack get some acknowledgement for their defensive play as well.
But neither team has a dominating defense so these match-ups will boil down to an offensive war. The Eagles have an offense that can score a ton of points and do so in a hurry.
Now the Eagles are also are sporting a shiny new defense that should be able to wreak some havoc on the mighty offenses of the Saints and Packers. If they were to match-up in the post-season, at the very least it would be even.
And while the Packers and Saints have their own star QBs, they’ve both won a Super Bowl. Vick has not and that makes him more hungry. Vick has the eye of the tiger, baby.
5. The Eagles are simply the best team in the NFC East.
This is perhaps the biggest reason why the Eagles are almost guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Obviously, the division winner will get in.
The Eagles won the division last year and have since made major improvements. Conversely, the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins have either remained the same or have gotten worse.
Recently, the Giants are getting ravaged by injuries to starting players on their defense and have lost two key players on their offense (Steve Smith and Kevin Boss).
And on their offensive side, Eli Manning has struggled during the preseason. Will that carry over into the season? He’s a hot and cold QB as it is.
As for Dallas, some people like their chances this year because last season was seen as an aberration. The team appeared to improve once Jason Garrett took over head coaching duties.
But the cap-strapped Cowboys couldn’t make any moves in free agency other than get rid of players.
Addition by subtraction? Nah, just plain subtraction.
Don’t get me wrong, Dallas does have some good talent on their roster and now have Rob Ryan directing the defense. They should certainly compete this year.
But at this point in time, I don’t see how anyone can honestly think they’re on the Eagles’ level. We’ll see once the games are played but at this juncture, the Eagles have a clear edge on Dallas.
Lastly, the Redskins. Or is it the Deadskins? They enter into year two of the Mike Shanahan project. But they just simply do not have the offensive talent that is anywhere near playoff worthy.
The easiest thing to point out with Washington is that they don’t have a QB. Rex Grossman doesn’t scare anybody. Jabar Gaffney? Santana Moss? Please.
They might have some fight like an angry chihuahua, but the Eagles will put them back on the porch because they can’t run with the big dogs.
6. The Eagles will make the playoffs because ESPN says so!
Okay, I’m mainly joking here but 11 out of 12 of the so-called ESPN “experts” picked the Eagles to win the NFC East.
Although the lone dissenter, Adam Schefter, actually picks the Eagles as a wild-card team. So actually, that’s 12 for 12 there.
Then over at Fox Sports, six out of seven of their experts predict the Eagles as the division winner.
As the saying goes: “It must be true if everyone is saying it.”