Coming off their fifth NFC Championship game appearance, and fourth loss, the Philadelphia Eagles know that their window for success may be closing. This year the Eagles are thinking Super Bowl or bust.
That's why head coach Andy Reid and owner Jeffery Lurie made some major changes to an offense that lacked consistency.
Veteran tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan are gone, though Runyan is still available to be re-signed should the team decided to add some depth, having been replaced by Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters. Depth and explosiveness were added through the draft in the form of WR Jeremy Maclin and RB LeSean McCoy.
Add that to an already formidable trio of QB Donovan McNabb, who started to look more like the quarterback that led his team to four straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl at the end of last season, RB Brian Westbrook, arguably the most talented back in the league not named LT, and WR Kevin Curtis, whose return from injury couldn't have come at a better time last year, and this offense looks primed to be one of the best in the NFL.
The NFL's third best defense returns largely entact, minus one glaring hole both on the field and in the locker room.
Emotional leader, team captain, and seven-time Pro Bowl FS Brian Dawkins left Philadelphia after 13 seasons for the Denver Broncos. Dawkins' departure means that someone will have to fill the leadership responsibilities if this unit wants to remain one of the most feared in the league.
The Eagles may also be without defensive coordinator Jim Johnson who is undergoing treatment for a cancerous tumor on his spine. Johnson has said that he hopes to be back with the team this season, though Reid feels that his health is priority one.
Realistically anything short of a return to the playoffs would be an underachievement for this team, and with the questions looming around the other teams in the division, the NFC East title should find its way to Philadelphia for the sixth time this decade.
Many feel that this is the best Eagles team since '04, and that anything short of the Super Bowl would be disappointing.
For another Super Bowl run to happen the Eagles would have to find an answer to their shortcomings, no pun intended, in short-yardage situations, and to avoid their biggest rival in recent years, injuries.
Reid feels that Peters, Andrews, Maclin, and McCoy are the answer to the first problem, and improved play all-around will be the answer to the second. If Philadelphia can convert third-and-short plays, and finally keep McNabb, Westbrook, and company healthy, then a trip to Miami may be on their flight plan.