Michael Vick has to be smiling about the Eagles chances in 2011.
The first weekend of NFL training camp was a whirlwind of free agency signings. While many teams had set their foundations last season, the Philadelphia Eagles have picked up some of the biggest names in the free agent pool. With the new acquisitions, many experts have already put the Eagles in the driver’s seat in the NFC.
Is it too early for fans and players to be making bold predictions?
Just a few different players can improve an NBA team very quickly. We’ve seen this happen in Boston when the Big Three were put together and they went on to win a championship. The current culture of the NBA looks for franchises to build their team through free agency. If NBA teams can pick up just two outstanding players, it can improve a team immensely. The Miami Heat picked up LeBron James and Chris Bosh and then made it to the NBA Finals the same year.
Unlike the NBA, the NFL has many more players on the chessboard and getting the team all on the same page can be harder than having just a 12-man roster.
The biggest chess piece the Eagles picked up was All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha. A standout for the Oakland Raiders, Asomugha basically shutdown his side of the field every week. He is a quiet character guy who won’t give the locker room problems. People argue Asomugha doesn’t have the stats, but it’s hard to put up big numbers when the receiver you are covering is not being thrown to. The last season he had multiple interceptions was in 2006.
Numbers can be deceiving though; the Raiders were ranked second in passing defense in 2010.
Will the Eagles win the NFC
Andy Reid is a special coach. While he hasn’t accumulated rings like Bill Belichick, he is a wizard of the passing game. A Bill Walsh disciple, he revolutionized the West Coast offense. He was a part of the Green Bay Packers and helped Brett Favre make fewer mistakes.
When Michael Vick became the starter in Philly, everybody questioned whether he would use his feet more than his arm. Reid has put him on the right path and he had the best season of his career last year. Even if Vick was passing to running back LeSean McCoy, who had 78 receptions in 2010, he still could juke and get downfield if all else failed.
In an offense that running the ball is substituted for the screen pass, the Eagles can confuse teams with play action and throw deep to the speedy DeSean Jackson.
While the Eagles have picked up the best cornerback, the pass rusher in Jason Babin, kept Trent Cole and have an offense that can put up points, that doesn’t give the Eagles any guarantees. The offensive line was ranked 12th in 2010. Vick took a lot of hits so we have to question if he will play every single snap.
With so much new talent, it will take time to gel as we saw in Miami, but they are in an NFC East that isn’t as competitive as in years past.
The Eagles are officially a target, and being the hunter is different than being the hunted. Confidence is high in Philly, but the team has to stay hungry to stay atop a parity-ridden NFL.
This isn’t the NBA where a team can find themselves late in the season and make a run to the playoffs.