Yes, I am an Eagles fan. But I can still objectively say that the Eagles not making the playoffs was the biggest shock and surprise of the 2011 NFL season.
Ironically, if I was making this list a year ago, I may have put that the biggest surprise was that they DID make the playoffs.
Indeed, 2010 was supposed to be the year they missed the playoffs. Prior to that season, they traded their franchise quarterback away, said goodbye to their workhorse running back, and they were going to work with three rookies starting on defense. On paper, it looked like a 6- or 7-win transition season and nobody would’ve been that angry about it.
But that didn’t happen. Michael Vick came in and had an MVP-caliber season, LeSean McCoy made everybody forget Brian Westbrook, and the Eagles went 10-6 and won an NFC East title. So when the defending NFC East champions went on a spending spree the following offseason and picked up Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin, most people believed that this would catapult the Eagles from a 10-6 playoff sneak-in to an elite team in the NFC.
Everybody knows what happened next. The Birds started off 1-4 and never really recovered. While the record will show that 2011 was an average 8-8 season for the Eagles, it had the feel of a listless, depressing malaise for most of its duration.
The fact that the Eagles made so much improvement to their team and came up so short makes this the biggest shock of the 2011 NFL season.