Philadelphia Eagles and the Most Disappointing NFL Teams of 2011
Few things in all of professional sports have the power of preseason expectations. The hopes of fans and the predictions of experts can snowball around a team until the hype surrounding them either comes to fruition or breaks them entirely.
In the NFL, parity allows any team in any given year a chance to become the season's hype machine, but when that hype is not met, expectations can turn an otherwise decent campaign into a total failure (Miami Heat anyone?).
Many teams in the league entered this season with lofty goals, and just as many teams failed to meet them.
Here are the 2011 season's biggest let-down squads.
Honorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts
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The Indianapolis Colts probably rank as the MOST disappointing team of 2011 in the minds of many people.
On the other hand, they have always been a shoddy team outside of Peyton Manning. It should come as no great surprise that they didn't win a single game until Week 15 with Manning out for the entire season.
Once the severity of Manning's neck injury came to light during the shortened training camp, any real expectations for the 2011 Colts, with or without him, vanished.
Still, 2-13 after 10 straight years of playoffs is a pretty massive disappointment.
5. St. Louis Rams
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After going from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft to a 7-9 record and barely missing the playoffs, the St. Louis Rams had some high hopes for this year.
Playing in what was supposed to be a very weak NFC West, the new-look Rams seemed poised for a playoff run with Sam Bradford and a beefed-up defensive line.
Instead, the San Fransisco 49ers steamrolled everyone, and the Rams flopped with injuries and a Bradford sophomore slump.
Rather than at least keep up with the 49ers in the playoff race, the Rams are now equal with the Colts at two wins and are just a loss away from having their second No. 1 overall pick in three drafts.
Luckily for St. Louis sports fans, the Cardinals at least won the World Series.
4. Minnesota Vikings
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Despite the loss of the once-great Brett Favre, the Minnesota Vikings weren't looking bad coming into the 2011 season.
With a truncated training camp due to the lockout, Donovan McNabb was supposed to bring a veteran presence under center and help win games while Christian Ponder learned from the bench.
Even without Sidney Rice, their offense was expected to be strong enough to get the points to win games. Their defense has been stout for several seasons and was expected to continue being a solid unit.
None of that happened. McNabb was the biggest veteran bust this side of Albert Haynesworth, and the entire team struggled en route to a 3-12 record. Christian Ponder showed some promise once he took over, but that has been the lone bright spot.
Their offense was dead in the middle of the league at No. 18, and their defense turned out a bottom-10 season. Combine that with a lack of the X-factor to win games, and you have a lost season.
Maybe the playoffs were a longshot for the 2011 Vikings, but nobody in Minnesota was thinking top-three draft pick.
3. San Diego Chargers
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People should really be used to underperforming San Diego Chargers teams, especially since Norv Turner is still head coach.
Last year, their offense and defense both ranked in the top five, yet they missed the playoffs anyway because of a magical season by the Kansas City Chiefs.
That, and Philip Rivers is football's version of LeBron James. Much like James or Tony Romo, Philip Rivers is a fantastic statistical player who completely lacks the "it" factor to help win important games.
The fact that he lost to Tim Tebow should say it all. Not to mention, he gave Carson Palmer his first win as a Raider.
Until Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith are fired, the San Diego Chargers will continue to overpay the Eric Weddles of the world and continue to miss the postseason.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be the biggest disappointment if they had made more noise in the offseason.
Raheem Morris came off his second head coaching season in which his young Bucs won 10 games and barely missed the playoffs in a brutal division, making him a Coach of the Year candidate.
Josh Freeman was looking like the best young quarterback in the NFL with his fourth-quarter heroics, and rookie Mike Williams had a terrific first year.
Even better, they drafted two of the top five defensive ends in Adrian Clayborne and Da'Quan Bowers.
They opened strong in 2011 with victories over the Saints and Falcons, looking like a real playoff contender.
Since then, they have lost 11 straight games, falling to 4-11 and even being swept by the once-lowly Carolina Panthers and rookie sensation Cam Newton.
Josh Freeman has struggled mightily, committing as many turnovers in single games as he did in all of 2010. They have one of the NFL's worst defenses at No. 30 overall.
Morris has gone from potential Coach of the Year to mega hot seat very fast.
The boat is about to get rocked in Tampa. Make no mistake about it.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
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Nobody in sports has been as disappointing in 2011 as the Philadelphia Eagles.
(Calling them disappointing is actually a bit of a misnomer, nobody was happier than me to see Vick and his Eagles flop like fish out of water)
After all the hoopla surrounding the free-agent shopping spree that this team went on, they came out of the gate gunning for the Super Bowl, and instead, fell flat on their faces.
The trade for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signings of Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, and especially Nnamdi Asomugha had everyone pointing to Philadelphia as the second-best team in the NFC.
Obviously, this wasn't the case, as the Eagles learned that you can't do anything on defense with nobody to stop the run.
Asomugha in particular looks like a complete fool, having spurned the San Francisco 49ers by saying he
"wanted to be on a contending team".
Well, the 49ers are a win away from a first round playoff bye, and the Eagles are a meager 7-8 going into the final game.
Nicely done Nnamdi.