The 2010 Philadelphia Eagles had a lot of uncertainties as they started off their season at home versus Green Bay. Franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb had been traded in the offseason to division rival Washington. Kevin Kolb was given the reigns to Philadelphia's explosive offense, with Michael Vick backing him up.
It was in that game, when Kolb went out with a concussion, that gave Vick his chance to step into the spotlight and take over as the Eagles starting quarterback. His elusive athletic abilities were back to where they had been, as Vick posted career numbers across the board. Compared to his previous stint in the league, Vick has finally become a complete quarterback, no longer looking to run first and pass second, but rather going through his progressions and using his legs only as a last resort.
Vick led the Eagles to a 10-6 record in the NFC East, earning them a Wild Card. They faced the Green Bay Packers at home in the Wild Card round, losing 21-16. It was a sour way to end the season, but it showed a glimpse of what the Eagles can do in the years to come with Vick at the helm.
The 2011 NFL schedules have finally been released. This is a look into how the Eagles will finish with the assumption that there is a season and that the team avoids any major injuries.
Philadelphia kicks off their 2011 campaign in St. Louis to face the up-and-coming Rams, led by Sam Bradford. Under Andy Reid, the Eagles have a 57-30-1 road record since 2000. The Rams will test the Eagles, but in the end, there is too much star power for the Rams defense to contain, even with Steve Spagnuolo's familiarity with the Eagles. A 31-17 victory to start their season 1-0.
The following week, in prime-time on Sunday night, the Eagles head to Atlanta for Vick's first game back as a starting quarterback. It will be an extremely emotional game for Vick, returning to face the team that drafted him number one overall. Despite Philadelphia's recent dominance of the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan and company come out with a 24-23 win, putting the Eagles record back at .500, at 1-1.
The Eagles play their first game at home versus divisional rival New York. The Giants always play Philly tough at the Linc, but the Eagles give their fans a lot to cheer about as they win their home opener 24-20, going to 2-1 overall.
The Eagles, in their second of back-to-back home games, take on the 49ers. A new head coach and still uncertainty on just who is their guy at quarterback, Philly takes control early and doesn't look back. They demolish San Francisco 34-13, pushing their record to 3-1 as they head back on the road for a pair of games.
Philly travels to face the Buffalo Bills for what would seem like an easy win. This could easily be a trap game for the Eagles. While Buffalo continues to struggle, they have the tendency to play the role of spoiler, and while the Eagles may battle some inconsistencies along the way, they will still win this game, taking out the Bills 28-14 and jumping to 4-1 on the season.
Another possible trap game for the Eagles comes on the road at Washington. In this game last season, Vick played probably the best game of his career, going absolutely crazy as the offense was simply unstoppable. The early season roll continues on as they outplay the disaster Mike Shanahan has created, winning 20-13 heading into their bye week at 5-1.
The Philadelphia Eagles are an astounding 12-0 in games after the bye week under Andy Reid. Last year they beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in Philly. This year, the Dallas Cowboys become victim to the streak, this time on Sunday Night Football, where the Eagles defense welcomes back Tony Romo and reintroduces him to the turf of Lincoln Financial. Philly wins 23-17, increasing their win total to six, with only one loss.
For a fourth consecutive season, the Eagles play the Chicago Bears. This time it's on national television on Monday Night Football in front of a raucous crowd in the City of Brotherly Love. Chicago's physical pressure defense puts a hold on the offense and for the first time at home, the Eagles suffer a defeat, losing 21-16 and dropping to 6-2 overall.
It doesn't happen very often, but the Eagles are recipient of a three-game homestand, the last of which comes against the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles overwhelm Arizona's defense and take this one easy, 27-14, making them 7-2.
In what was known as one of the plays of the year in 2010, Philadelphia returns to New York for the first time after the "New Miracle at the Meadowlands", which of course was DeSean Jackson's game-winning punt return as time expired. This time however, the Eagles aren't so lucky. Not forgetting that moment or their early-season defeat to Philly, the Giants get up for this game and beat the Eagles 28-24, putting Philly at 7-3 for the year.
Tom Brady, Bill Belicheck and company make their way to the Linc in what could be a potential Superbowl matchup. Tom Brady does what Tom Brady does best, and that's win. The Eagles struggle to pressure Brady and give him all day to pick apart the defense. This ends up ultimately costing the Eagles the game, with the Pats winning 35-30 and making that two consecutive losses for the first time all season, dropping the Eagles to 7-4.
It's a short week for Philly as they travel to Qwest Field on a Thursday night to take on the Seahawks. Despite adverse conditions, including the "12th man", the Eagles come out with a much-needed victory beating the Seahawks 24-13. They go to 8-4 overall.
From one end of the country to the very opposite end, Seattle to Miami, the Eagles take on the Dolphins in what could easily be another trap game. The Eagles don't fall into that trap this game, pressuring a subpar Dolphins offense into many mistakes and converting them into points on offense. Eagles win 20-10, making them 9-4.
Loud-mouth Rex Ryan comes to town to face the Eagles for the first time in the regular season since taking over the Jets. The Jets defense is good and they will limit the offense's opportunities. However the Eagles are able to continue their "bend but don't break" defensive approach and hold on for a 16-10 victory at home, putting them at 10-4 for the season.
Coming down the homestretch, the Eagles head to "Jerryworld" to face the Cowboys. Unlike last season, the Eagles aren't so lucky and suffer their second divisional defeat. Romo comes to life and has a good game, and the Cowboy defense stifles Vick and company. Dallas wins 27-21. Eagles fall to 10-5.
Philadelphia caps of their season at home versus the Washington Redskins. The 'Skins still don't have it figured out and the Eagles head into the playoffs on a winning note, beating up on the Redskins 28-17. The Eagles finish at 11-5, winning the NFC East and the #3 seed in the playoffs.
It's another successful season for Andy Reid, who enjoys another winning record in his 13th season as head coach of the Eagles. He's accumulated a .624 winning percentage, standing at 118-71-1 heading into the 2011 season. With Philly making the playoffs in '11, this means Andy Reid has guided the Eagles to the playoffs in 10 of his 13 seasons since taking over in 1999 for Ray Rhodes.
Barring any major injuries on both sides of the ball, the Eagles are set up for another run at a Superbowl title. Vick can establish himself alongside some of the great quarterbacks with another superb year and by leading the Eagles to their first title.
It's a very favorable schedule for Philly, with only one true road test outside of their own division (Week 2 at Atlanta). They play Chicago, New England and the New York Jets at home, which always gives them the chance to win.
Juan Castillo has plenty of work to do with this defense, but with a legend taking over the defensive line position, Castillo will have plenty of personnel to play around with and come up with the right schemes and formations to bring this defense back into the top ranks.
The offense can continue to grow and get better, needing better protection for Vick and more consistency in play-calling and execution. Vick has a full offseason to prepare as the team's starting QB and the young core will only get better with another year of experience under their belt.