Michael Vick and 7 Philadelphia Eagles in Contention for Pro Bowl Spots in 2011
In 2010, the NFL selected five members of the Philadelphia Eagles to appear in the Pro Bowl: David Akers, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters, Asante Samuel and Michael Vick. While only two players, Vick and Akers, actually participated in the event, the number of players selected showed just how well the team performed that season.
Obviously, it's hard to say which players will be on the 2011 Pro Bowl roster before training camp has even commenced. However, based on past performance and offseason developments, several Eagles could be in the mix for trips to Hawaii this coming season.
Let's take a look at eight players poised to have standout years.
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Not only was Michael Vick a clear first-string Pro Bowl candidate last year, but also a serious contender for MVP. Granted, he eventually lost the battle to Tom Brady, but the race was close nevertheless.
The Eagles' offensive line additions of coach Howard Mudd and first-round pick Danny Watkins should give Vick more time in the pocket and allow him to improve on his 2010 numbers. With the threat of being slammed into the turf reduced, Vick will be able to exploit Andy Reid's pass-heavy offense for all it's worth.
Last season, Vick posted top-five rankings among quarterbacks in QB rating (100.2), fewest interceptions (6), average yards per pass (8.1) and, of course, every rushing category.
With his first complete season as an Eagles starter ahead of him, Vick projects to put up star-studded numbers yet again and to make his second run at the MVP title.
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Although he hasn't yet broken into the top 10 running backs in the NFL in terms of rushing stats, LeSean McCoy has come a long way since the Eagles drafted him in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
In his first full season as a starter, McCoy cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark, also contributing seven touchdowns on the ground.
In the passing game, however, he stood out from the other running backs around the league. Among starting halfbacks, McCoy had the most receptions (78), the second-most receiving yards (592) and the second-highest average receiving yards per game (39.5).
McCoy is the kind of dynamic halfback that finds a way to contribute even in a pass-heavy offense, whether as an underneath option for Michael Vick or an improvised emergency option. If he continues his impressive rise, he might just find himself on a plane to Hawaii next year.
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In his three, short years as an NFL player, DeSean Jackson has managed to make an impact like few players have in the history of the league.
Jackson was selected to both the 2009 and 2010 Pro Bowls, including an appearance as both a wide receiver and punt returner on the 2009 roster. It was the first time a player had ever made the Pro Bowl at two different positions in the same season.
Jackson has also been the recipient of countless other awards and honors, such as being named an All-Pro punt returner and tying the NFL record for most touchdowns over 50 yards in a single season in 2009.
The 2010 campaign was no different, with Jackson winning the GMC "Never Say Never" Award for his historic punt return against the New York Giants in Week 15—the play that Eagles fans worldwide now call "The Miracle at the New Meadowlands."
With the majority of the Eagles' star-studded offensive cast set to return in 2011, there is no reason to believe that Jackson will miss the opportunity to add a third Pro Bowl selection to his resume.
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While DeSean Jackon's flashy plays and blazing speed catch the eye of football fans around the world, the Eagles are fortunate enough to possess a second game-changing wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin.
After a 2010 season in which he led the team with 10 receiving touchdowns (ranking seventh in the league), Maclin appears poised to garner his first Pro Bowl selection in 2011.
However, since Maclin doesn't participate much in the rushing or return games, his performance will be tied to that of Michael Vick's.
As previously mentioned, the improvements to the Eagles' offensive line should help Vick's passing game immensely, so Maclin should also see the benefits.
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One of the unfortunate aspects of the Pro Bowl voting system is that offensive linemen often appear to be voted in based on name recognition. This is evidenced most recently by players like Giants center Shaun O'Hara garnering a Pro Bowl berth despite only playing six games in 2010.
However, while the system may be biased, that bodes well for Jason Peters, who has been voted to the Pro Bowl every season since 2007.
Not to undermine his excess of talent, but little short of a season-ending injury would prevent Peters from appearing in his fifth-consecutive Pro Bowl in 2011.
The Eagles are once again a team in contention for the Super Bowl and will be getting plenty of media attention. In a position where no official stats are kept, all Peters has to do is make sure the refs don't call his name too many times and the roster spot is his for the taking.
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As previously mentioned, the Pro Bowl offensive roster is difficult to crack for an offensive lineman. However, if any Eagle were to accomplish that particular feat, it would be left guard Todd Herremans.
In his six seasons with the team, Herremans has developed a reputation as a nasty player who couples his mauling tactics at guard with a versatility unique among offensive lineman.
Not only can Herremans fill in seamlessly as a tackle in emergency situations, he also presents an excellent surprise end-zone target. Registering as a tackle eligible, Herremans has caught two touchdown passes in his career.
Under the tutelage of legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd, Herremans has the tools and potential to crack the 2011 Pro Bowl roster. He'll have to clear the name-recognition hurdle first, though.
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Although he was only selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl roster as a reserve, Trent Cole appears poised to make a third appearance in Hawaii in 2011.
His 10 sacks last season were good enough to lead the team, but he was overshadowed by NFC sack artists John Abraham and Justin Tuck. He also fell short of his 12.5 sacks total of last year, due largely in part to his apparent misuse by defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
However, with a simpler defensive philosophy scheduled to be implemented by new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, Cole will once again have plenty of opportunities to attack the quarterback.
Look for his name on the Pro Bowl roster in 2011.
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For the past four seasons, Asante Samuel's name has appeared on the Pro Bowl roster, and with good reason. The 30-year-old two-time Super Bowl champion has a knack for coming up with timely interceptions.
Although much maligned by the Philadelphia fans for his lack of tackling polish, Samuel made up for it last season by nabbing seven interceptions. The total was good enough to tie him for second in the league.
With the Eagles' revamped defense, look for the vocal Samuel to continue his leadership and game-changing performance in 2011.