The Philadelphia Eagles are having a great offseason. They added a superb middle linebacker in DeMeco Ryans, extended contracts for a few key veterans and finally made peace with DeSean Jackson. According to many analysts, Philadelphia may have even had the best 2012 draft in the league.
Unfortunately, we've heard this all before—last season. The Eagles had a fantastic offseason and backup quarterback Vince Young deemed them the "Dream Team." It was an epic fail, with the team failing to even make the playoffs.
However, this year will be different. With the leadership of Michael Vick, the Eagles will win the NFC East title.
Vick will enter the 2012 NFL season under more pressure than he's ever felt before. Last year's team was too talented to end the season with an 8-8 record and miss the playoffs. The team did pull it together near the end, closing out with a four-game winning streak that they're confident will carry over to the 2012 season.
While the defensive shortcomings contributed to last season's failures, much of the blame can also be placed on Vick's shoulders. He was plagued by turnovers and injuries in 2011.
The quarterback turned the ball over 14 times during last year's 3-6 start, and finished with 18 total turnovers. In fact, Vick had twice as many turnovers in 2011 than 2010, while starting in one less game. Vick missed three games due to broken ribs last season, not including the two he was knocked out of.
If Vick can take better care of his body by avoiding big hits, there is no reason why the Eagles shouldn't win the NFC East. You can argue that if Vick would have been completely healthy last season, Philadelphia would have beat the New York Giants for the title. In the three games that Young started, he threw twice as many interceptions than touchdowns.
The Eagles need Vick as their quarterback to be a title contender. The offense is built around him and will not succeed with Mike Kafka, Nick Foles or Trent Edwards. However, they don't need Vick to be the electrifying freak-of-nature he was in 2010. Instead, he should pair that God-given talent with good decision-making to lead his team to the level we all know they're capable of reaching. Sometimes, Vick tries to do too much on the field. If he is more responsible about knowing when to take chances and when to play it safe, it will help his health and turnovers.
Vick will play smarter in 2012 to fully utilize the weapons the Eagles surrounded him with. Even though DeSean Jackson put up his lowest numbers in 2011 since his rookie year, he has a new contract and eagerness to win. Now that Jackson knows he's financially secure, he can make big plays without worrying about one big hit costing him his payday. LeSean McCoy will continue to dominate in 2012. McCoy carried the ball 273 times for 1,309 yards and a league-best 17 touchdowns in 2011.
With Jackson, McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and the rest of the offense in his corner, Vick has the pieces he needs to lead the Eagles to the NFC East title. Throw in a budding elite offensive line and it almost seems like a sure thing.
There is a lot riding on the 2012 season for the Eagles, including head coach Andy Reid's job security. Vick is good enough to lead his team to an NFC East title, the playoffs and even the Super Bowl. The difference between 2011's disappointment and 2012's potential success will be Michael Vick's development as more than a talented quarterback, but a smart quarterback.