Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Reasons They Repeat as NFC East Champions
The Philadelphia Eagles are the 2010 NFC East champs and will continue their reign of supremacy in 2011.
The Eagles are not only the defending champs in the NFC East, they are still the favorites to win it. They have one of the most explosive offenses in the league and with no where to go but up on defense, especially in the red zone, they should be even better in 2011.
Andy Reid will look to win his seventh division title as the Eagles' head coach.
With the successes the Eagles achieved in 2010, winning the NFC East will be the expectation. The 2011 Eagles looked poised for a serious run at the Lombardi Trophy and beating out three teams that didn't make the playoffs last year is a must.
1. The Competition
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Before you can talk about winning your division, you have to consider your competition. The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets were legitimate Superbowl contenders in 2010, but did not win their divisions. The Seattle Seahawks were a mediocre team at best, but won their division. The NFC East isn't quite the AFC East or AFC North but it is certainly a few steps of from the Sun Belt of the NFL, the NFC West.
The New York Giants were the closest team to the Eagles last season. They finished the year at 10-6,same as the Eagles but failed to defeat Philadelphia despite having the lead late in both games. The Eagles outscored the Giants by 25 points in the fourth quarter in 2010. Last season the Giants struggled with turnovers and failed to close out many tight games.
The Giants had a good draft, on paper, but have an aging offensive line and also that whole Osi Umenyiora situation that won't end well. The Giants have lost to the Eagles six straight times and until the can beat the Eagles, they can't be considered as a division favorite.
The Dallas Cowboys had a disastrous 2010 season. Under Wade Phillips, the Cowboys completely fell apart last season, winning just one of their first eight games. Under interim and now current head coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys won five of their final eight games. They Eagles and Cowboys played in one meaningful game in 2010, which the Eagles won.
On paper the Cowboys have a pretty good team. Tony Romo keeps putting up good numbers, Felix Jones is dangerous in the open field, DeMarcus Ware is a beast off the edge and Jason Whitten is still an elite tight end. The problem with the Cowboys is the rest of the team is pretty mediocre. The pass protection was awful in 2010 and the secondary was even worse. Jerry Jones won't have any money to play with in free agency as they are several million over the cap already and they havn't even signed rookies yet. Eight wins would probably be an achievement for this team.
The Washington Redskins are a mess. Their two biggest names and biggest contracts, Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth, had their worst seasons in their careers and will most likely be released within 30 seconds the lockout is lifted. John Beck is projected to be the Redskins starting quarterback, enough said. It's more likely Mike Shanahan gets fired rather than the Skins winning the East.
2. The Offense Has Not Reached Their Peak
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The most explosive offense in the NFL hasn't reached their peak. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are still very young.
All three players are under 25 and all three have shown an elite talent level at an early age. DeSean Jackson is starting to make the jump from just a deep threat to a complete receiver Michael Vick can rely on in every situation.
LeSean McCoy had his first 1,000 yard season as a rusher in 2010. McCoy is starting to make Eagles fans forget about Brian Westbrook after his 1,600 plus total yards last season. He has become one of the best screen back and also has greatly improved his play in pass protection as well.
Jeremy Maclin had a breakout year in just his second in the NFL. He finished the 2010 season with 70 catches for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin has become a red zone target for Michael Vick and still has a ton of room to grow.
This trio of superstar play makers still has plenty of room to grow as a unit. LeSean is capable of putting up Marshall Faulk or Brian Westbrook like numbers while Jackson and Maclin will look to become more complete wide outs in 2011.
4,000 total yards between these three players is not out of the question by any stretch.
The Offensive Line Will Be Greatly Improved
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Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb were sacked a grand total of 49 times in 2010. To put that number in perspective, the 2008 Titans that won 13 games and had a dominant pass rush had 44 sacks.
The left side of the line wasn't really the problem in 2010. Jason Peters is an elite player at left tackle and Todd Herremans is a solid player who isn't dominate but will always get the job done. Jamaal Jackson tore his triceps in Week 1, so Mike McGlynn took over at center for the remainder of the season despite never playing the position before training camp.
Max Jean Gilles and Winston Justice were the problem. Max Jean Gilles struggled to look mediocre at times in 2010 while Winston Justice played through a knee injury that really hindered his play. Winston Justice was pulled during a playoff game against the Packers after being dominated by Clay Matthews.
With the first round draft pick of Danny Watkins, the Eagles looked like they have solved the right guard position. A healthy Winston Justice in 2011 could be the answer at right tackle. King Dunlap played well in a couple starts including his start against the Falcons where he shut down Jon Abraham. The Eagles could also address the right tackle position in free agency with Tyson Clabo.
Bottom line, the offensive line will be greatly improved with the addition of Danny Watkins and the likely departure of Max Jean Gilles.
Dimitri Patterson Won't Be Opposite of Asante Samuel
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The right cornerback position was beyond terrible in 2010, it was atrocious. Ellis Hobbs started the year at right corner but was never fully healthy and got lit up by Kenny Britt in a fourth quarter meltdown. Dimitri Patterson took over after the Tennessee game.
Patterson started off decent but eventually there was enough film on him for receivers to figure out how to exploit him. Patterson is clearly not a starting caliber corner in this league and will most likely be cut.
Just about every starting cornerback on the market has been rumored to have interest from the Eagles. Nnamdi Asomugha is the best player, Jonathon Joseph is close and Ike Taylor is probably the best short term solution in terms of how much he will demand.
Andy Reid says the front office already has a plan in place and with the Eagles being contenders and plenty of money to spend, they are probably the most attractive place for any cornerback on the open market.
Regardless of who they bring in, it will be a major upgrade over the players they had in 2010. The deep coverage will be 10 times better in 2011.
They Are the Defending Champs
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The Eagles won the division last year despite having many holes on defense, and a quarterback who hadn't been a starter since 2006. The 2011 Eagles will be much better.
The Eagles won four out of five meaningful division games in 2010. They have won six straight over the Giants, and blew out the Redskins in record-setting fashion in their last meeting. The Cowboys nearly lost to the Eagles backups in Week 17.
The Eagles own the NFC East, and there is no reason they won't continue that trend in 2011.