08 September 2011

2011 Philadelphia Eagles Season Preview

Welcome to another *Dun Dun Dun Dun* Football Season. After months of hurt feelings, the lockout finally ended and there was a flurry of activity: Free Agency, training camp, pointless televised pre-season games, and hype. Lots of hype. I can’t remember an off-season where there was this much hype around the Philadelphia Eagles since that guy who ended up setting the record for the most ‘Televised Narcissistic Sit-ups In One’s Own Driveway’ came to the team. This season has whole new reasons for wanting to get your popcorn ready.

Disclaimer: I am not going to debate “off the field” Michael Vick this season. I have no comment on his 6yr-$100M contract extension, or anything else. I will be sticking to “on the field” Michael Vick.
The abbreviated activity of the offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles can be summed up pretty simply by returning DE Jason Babin.

He later clarified that statement by saying “Except we win the final game…” This brings up a big question: is a Super Bowl Victory going to be the only way to declare this as a successful season? For the Miami Heat, it was very clear, Championship or failed season. Is that the same bar set for these Philadelphia Eagles?
 After last season’s unexpected success and then disappointing exit from the postseason, they moved Juan Castillo from Offensive Line Coach to Defensive Coordinator, hired Jim Washburn as Defensive Line Coach and Howard Mudd as Offensive Line Coach. Lot's of people are excited by the intensity and success of Jim Washburn with less than excellent talent. Personally, I am interested to see how the new scheme of Offensive Line Coach Howard Mudd goes. After last year's offensive line failed miserably, we moved him to Defensive Coordinator because his notebooks were backwards, or something. Bringing in Howard Mudd is a step up. He kept Peyton Manning upright for years and was able to effectively coach and train undersized lineman to make them effective in a super pass happy offense. This will be important because Vick has a tendency to get hit hard. Keeping him alive will keep the team's championship hopes alive.

In keeping with the theme of change, they brought in a surprising haul of new players this year. Kevin Kolb was finally given his wish and traded for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie The previously mentioned Jason Babin, along with prized free agent CB Nnamdi Asomugha, and DT Cullen Jenkins signed much to the dismay of other potential suitors. QB Vince Young, WR Steve Smith, and RB Ronnie Brown were also surprise additions. ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook, writer of Tuesday Morning Quarterback, has taken to calling them the Philadelphia Heat and asks, “how long until the locked-out LeBron James decides to suit up?” 

Clearly this is an organization people want to play for, and they will compete at a high level along with having high expectations. The division is theirs for the taking. Washington is not going to compete for the division, and won’t until someone teaches Dan Snyder how to run an NFL Franchise. The New York Giants have taken a step back, but will still be competitive and will surprise a lot of people. Dallas has the talent, but are they going to rally around Jason Garrett in his first full season as coach, or are they going to fold in immature fashion again? Dallas is weak in leadership. Don't expect that to change this season, or in the near future.
The Heat/Eagles will see the NFC West and AFC East. The NFC West was so bad last year none of them would have even qualified for even a BCS bowl game. I’m sure any youth team sharing the name of the Seahawks got more wins than the eventual division champs. New coach in San Francisco Jim Harbaugh is going to wish he stayed at Stanford, or at least had someone better than Alex “I have tiny hands” Smith at QB. In case you’re wondering, QB Kevin Kolb and LB Stewart Bradley lead the Cardinals to Philadelphia on Sunday, November 13. 

The AFC East will feature two popular picks for Super Bowl Contenders: the New York Jets and New England Patriots. These will both be tough contests for the Heat/Eagles, but luckily both will be at home. They play Buffalo on the road, but in October before weather is truly a factor there. Watch out for the game in Miami though. Historically they have trouble playing in the south late in the season, and New England, with all their aura of invincibility, has stumbled in the home of the Bottlenosed Blowholes in the past as well.
Baring the tragic season loss of key players due to injury, the Philadelphia Heat will be in the playoffs, and that’s where the fun begins.

Making the playoffs is not only seen as expected, it’s a foregone conclusion in this city every year. In order to declare this season as a success, Andy Reid will need to improve upon his pedestrian record in postseason play. He is currently 10-9. In my opinion, they must get over the NFC Championship Game hump. Andy Reid has won this game only once. If they lose it again, there won’t be any Sean McDermott’s around to scapegoat. A Super Bowl appearance alone will give the fan base hope, and probably save Andy Reid’s job.

They have the talent to win the NFC this season, and performing at a high level will get them the Lombardi trophy. It will certainly be an entertaining season.

Final prediction – Regular Season Record:12 wins and 4 losses. Win the NFC East division, win the NFC Championship, lose in the Super Bowl and we endure at least one more year of Andy Reid. Joe Banner gets revealed as the Emperor of the Sith.

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