Sure, the offseason has been filled with free agency triumphs for the Philadelphia Eagles. They made the big splash so many teams were vying for by signing Nnamdi Asomugha. They dealt Kevin Kolb for help in the secondary a la Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and shored up a porous defensive line with Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, and Anthony Hargrove.
Immediately, you could not turn the television on without hearing about the “Dream Team” as newly acquired Vince Young put it. Even later in free agency they landed a talented backup for LeSean McCoy in Ronnie Brown and a sure-handed target in wide receiver Steve Smith for later in the season. If Super Bowls and Division titles were won in the offseason the NFC East crown would be Philadelphia’s.
The main concern for Philly is not a quick fix in free agency. It happens to be the guy all those free agents wanted to play with when they signed with Philly. Michael Vick was outstanding last year, period. Michael Vick has trouble staying on the field, though, period.
A lot is riding on Vick staying healthy to make these dreams become a reality for a team looking for its first Super Bowl victory. Without the centerpiece of the team on the field all these flashy parts via free agency do not amount to an NFC East Champion.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they do not reside in the NFC West. The NFC East is too tough to start Vince Young as your quarterback for five games. The New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and even the Washington Redskin’s backup quarterback Rex Grossman still have an opinion on who will win the NFC East.
The division is among the toughest in football year after year, until the recent emergence of the NFC South it was the only division that could consistently have three teams in the playoff race and sometimes even a fourth. That level of commitment to consistently spend the money to field a winning team by owners Jerry Jones, John Mara, Jeffrey Lurie and Daniel Snyder make it unique and does not bode well for preseason “Dream Teams”. It will always be a grind playing these six divisional games.
The Philadelphia Eagles did win the NFC East last year, and they did get better. That could be a bad sign though, no team has won the NFC East back-to-back seasons since Donovan McNabb’s Eagles were busy going to four straight NFC Championship games and consequently winning the NFC East from 2001-2004. After that installment of Andy Reid’s team peaked and slowly disassembled it has been a rotation of the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles.
Recent history says we can expect the Cowboys or Giants to pony up and win the division this year. Dallas is just a season removed from an 11-5 year and a dominant defense. If Rob Ryan can get the effort out of the defense they would no longer give Wade Phillips, the talent is there. The offensive cupboard is stocked and a healthy Tony Romo will have a lot of fun this year. The Giants have had the long, drawn out offseason to recover from yet another late season meltdown that still ended in a respectable 10-6 record.
If the Giants new punter Steve Weatherford can successfully punt the ball out of bounds when needed late in the game the Giants have as good a shot at keeping the Eagles from the Division Title as they did last December and failed to do.
If the Cowboys can avoid a defensive mutiny and their fullbacks can keep Tony Romo’s collarbone in one piece this year the Cowboys have the same core that beat the Eagles three times in 2009 including the playoffs. If Michael Vick plays in all 16 games for only the second time in his career and upholds last year’s 100.2 QB Rating the Eagles more than likely will start another collection of back to back NFC East Titles.
2011 NFC East Prediction:
New York Giants: 10-6*
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6
Dallas Cowboys: 9-7
Washington Redskins: 5-11
*Giants win tiebreaker over Eagles