The “Dream Team” handle fizzled right about the time the Philadelphia Eagles began the 2011 season 1-4 through five weeks.
They have been overrated by everyone since they made the biggest free-agency splash ever seen in the NFL, and those who rate NFL teams are at it again.
Let’s look at where some have them ranked going into the 2012 season:
Now let’s look at 1) why they are ranked that high and 2) why they are overrated.
Why Are They Ranked That High?
There are a few reasons. We’ll start with the No. 1 reason, and that is their quarterback, Michael Vick. Every season, the expectation is that Vick will light the world on fire with his combination of speed in the run game and newly found passing ability.
Every year those hopes are dashed because of injury.
He missed three games last year after breaking two ribs in a Week 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He has missed games due to injury in nearly every season in which he’s played and averages just over 12 regular-season games played per year.
I highlighted his list of injuries shortly after he signed his most recent contract with the Eagles, and last season’s three-game injury hiatus only adds to the long list.
Another reason they are ranked so high is because of the weapons Vick has at his disposal.
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and company are as solid a group as they come. McCoy, especially. His skill position players are fast, but they are also prone to injury.
Of those mentioned above, only Celek has played in every game the past three seasons (Celek has never missed a game in five seasons).
The potential firepower the Eagles’ offense brings every week causes writers and experts to get excited. On paper, the Philadelphia Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFL.
But that’s the problem. Football games are not played on paper; they are played on grass.
If NFL Network were to do one of their patented “Top-10 list” shows on one of the most overrated teams in NFL history, Philadelphia would be near the top.
Why? Yes, let’s find out why.
Why Are They Overrated?
The Eagles hope to have done enough to improve a defense that generated its fewest amount of turnovers (24) since the 2007 season (19), but that is not enough. They tied for the most sacks with Minnesota last season and still they finished 8-8.
The Eagles traded for DeMeco Ryans to play middle linebacker, and he is switching from a 3-4 the Houston Texans converted him to back to the 4-3, where he flourished.
They traded away disgruntled cornerback Asante Samuel and are now left with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as the starter opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. Just how bad he is in coverage was not seen often last season, and he tackles about as well as a field mouse would a bear.
His hit on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich was not a tackle attempt; it was illegal, so let’s stop that comment before it begins.
The unit as a whole is good. There are weaknesses that can be exploited, but overall, they are a solid bunch.
However, Philadelphia is not overrated because of the defense. They are overrated because of the offense.
Yes, they potentially could lead the league in yards per game and points per game this season. “On paper,” they could.
As discussed above, the season is not played on paper, and on the field Vick does not do enough to lead his team to where they have the talent to go. He already had to leave the first preseason game Philadelphia played because of an injury.
Freak accident or not, injuries find him. It is impossible with the way he plays football to keep him healthy for an entire season.
Rookie Nick Foles is on the verge of overtaking Mike Kafka for the backup quarterback role. It’s only a matter of time before Vick has to miss games with an injury and Foles is forced into live action before he’s ready. Then what?
Then the season will be once again lost because the star $100 million quarterback can’t stay healthy and the young quarterback behind him is unworthy of the starting spot.
Quick proposition: Philadelphia will need a backup quarterback who can fill in because of injury at some point this season. Do you want Kevin Kolb back?