Sunday, July 31, 2011

Are The Philadelphia Eagles Really A "Dream Team?"

Recently acquired backup quarterback Vince Young made some noise when he proclaimed that the 2011 Eagles were a "Dream Team" after their off-season of free agent acquisitions.
“From Nnamdi [Asomugha] to [Dominique Rodgers-] Cromartie, to Jason [Babin] to myself,“ Young continued, “I know they are going to do some more things…It’s just beautiful to see where we’re trying to go.”
Way to temper expectations in what is probably the most difficult city in the NFL to play for, Vince!  Also, quite cocky to toss yourself into the mix of what makes the Eagles a "Dream Team."

But are the Eagles a Super Bowl contender? Probably, as much as anyone can be at this point.  Post-season expectations can turn on a dime with an injury or poor locker room chemistry or simply bad luck.  Here are some things that need to happen for the Eagles to make it to the Super Bowl this year:

  • Michael Vick MUST stay healthy. This is obviously a no-brainer, but Young seems to think that his presence makes a big difference.  So far Young's career has been a disappointment, and his attitude and heart were severely questioned last year. Now he thinks he's a member of a Dream Team. Which brings me to my second point:
  • Locker room chemistry must be focused on winning and team first.  There will be temptation to admire the amount of talent that they acquired, but I'm trying to think of a single NFL team in recent history that won a Super Bowl because they added a bunch of top-level free agents.  Teams that routinely do this, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, have done nothing in the post-season in recent years.  What happens if/when the team starts to lose and the Eagles fans turn on them? 
  • Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie were brought in to help make the Eagles a dominant defense.  Early tests against the Rams (yes, the Rams; Bradford is wicked smart about where to throw and Josh McDaniels has experience game-planning against Asomugah) and the Falcons will be an indication on just how effective their presence will be.
  • Have they seen their pre-season schedule?? They are playing the Ravens, Steelers, and Jets in pre-season.  Coach Andy Reid will have to balance getting his guys enough playing time to begin to gel with saving them for the actual season.  Nothing will kill a buzz faster than under-performing and struggling in pre-season, but nothing derails your season like a couple of your top guys going down for significant time during meaningless pre-season games.
  • The balance of power in recent years has been with the AFC, but now is seems to be shifting back to the NFC.  However, the NFC East is playing the AFC East this year.  Games against the Patriots and Jets are not good news for an Eagles team that will need every victory it can acquire in order to wrap up a top seed (or, honestly, even a playoff berth).  

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