For Philadelphia Eagles fans, there is nothing more familiar, and frightening, than preseason optimism.
During Andy Reid's tenure, nothing has been more fatal to the proper appreciation of the Philadelphia Eagles' efforts than lofty expectations in the preseason. "This is our year" might be uttered by fans of every team in the NFL except maybe the Vikings this season, but no franchise knows those four words with more conviction, and no franchise has come so tantalizingly close only to fail more often, than the Eagles.
In the past 12 seasons, the Eagles have made the playoffs nine times, ousted in the NFC Championship game four times and lost in the Super Bowl in their one NFC Championship Game victory.
You might recall last year when Vince Young called a team employing him a "Dream Team." It set off a LeBron "Decision"-esque tsunami of media controversy which only washed over and galvanized the Eagles' failures in the early going. By the time the crushing wave had passed, the Eagles had rebounded from multiple injuries and finished with a respectable 8-8 record. They missed the playoffs, but entered the offseason with a knowledge of how to work with one another and a sense of optimism.
The Eagles, or at least Michael Vick, have apparently come out on the other end of that tunnel of optimism with his head in the clouds. In an interview with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, Vick stated that he thought the "[Eagles] have a chance to develop a dynasty." (I can hear the voice of By Saam in my head screaming "Michael, nooooooooooo!")
Eagles fans, break out your prayer beads and your rabbits' feet and knock on wood. In what was surely a statement to pump up his teammates, Vick placed another public-relations hex on the coming season before training camp has even started... or did he?
How far will the Eagles go next season?
Does Vick have a point? I might be marinating my foot for when I eat it later, but humor me just a second. The Eagles have actually had quite the stabilizing offseason.
They got new contracts for Desean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. They locked down the consistent Herremans, fan-favorite Trent Cole and gave an extension to breakout guard Evan Mathis. Despite all this money spent, the Eagles are fifth in the NFL in available adjusted cap space at roughly $16 million available, meaning they have the money to extend a contract or two (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jeremy Maclin come to mind). Of all the projected starters, DRC is the only one whose contract comes off the books this year.
What does this mean? The Eagles have no hold-outs, disgruntled franchise-tagged players and, most importantly, no offseason arrests and drama. Since the players have all been fed and watered (they do play football for a living, after all), there's just one thing the players have to worry about: playing football. It also means that if this team turns out to be a Super Bowl squad, the vast majority of them are slated to return in 2014 for another season.
The additions the Eagles have made thus far this offseason addressed areas of need. They got more sure secondary tackling via O.J. Atogwe. They added All-Pro Demeco Ryans to shore up the middle linebacker position and drafted Fletcher Cox to add him to what's already become a Murderer's Row of defensive linemen.
What's most assuring about Vick's confidence in his teammates is the positive energy that seems to be permeating throughout the optional camps. There appears to be a visible calmness in Vick's demeanor regarding his team. While Vick had similarly high expectations of his squad going into last season, the lockout, a spat of injuries and questions regarding the efficacy of certain defensive schemes under Juan Castillo undermined what was very nearly another playoff season. Ample time to prepare, a freedom from distractions and a seeming answer to all the personnel questions from last season only begs the question:
Could it finally be the Eagles' year this year?