Year after year, the City of Brotherly Love watches one team hoist the Lombardi Trophy as NFL champions. For 50 years—unfortunately for the Eagles—it's never been them.
Now we enter 2011, where the media have already declared the Eagles as Super Bowl favorites.
This season, it's Super Bowl or bust.
With the 2011 NFL season beginning Thursday, don't plan the victory parade just yet. It's going to be an exciting NFL season, but for this team, it's going to be a disappointing one that ends in heartbreak yet again.
Trust me on this one.
After 12 seasons, nine postseason appearances, six division titles, five conference championship game appearances and one loss in Super Bowl XXXIX to the New England Patriots, Andy Reid is still the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Last year, the Eagles recorded the third-best rushing attack of any single-season team from 1993–2010, but Reid opted to get away from the running game in the playoffs.
And season after season, the Eagles have seen Reid make costly in-game decisions, none more evident than last year’s decision to only run LeSean McCoy 12 times during a loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wild Card round after McCoy averaged 5.2 yards per carry during the season.
During Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia, he’s seen one franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb, get traded to Washington, and another franchise quarterback, Kevin Kolb, was supposed to be the next face of the Eagles, but is now in Arizona.
And a man no one expected to become an elite quarterback again—Michael Vick—has become the man under center.
Year after year, Reid gets out-coached and his teams get outplayed during the most important games of the season. Many thought the Eagles were Super Bowl contenders last season. Many believe they definitely are this year.
Although 2011 is a different year, the Eagles' season is going to end the same way—with a loss in the postseason. As long as Reid is on the sidelines coaching the Eagles, don’t expect a championship in Philadelphia any time soon.
Now that David Akers is in San Francisco, the Philadelphia Eagles will be looking for a replacement to fill the void left by the greatest kicker in Eagles history.
Called upon to replace Akers is fourth-round draft pick Alex Henery. The rookie from Nebraska made 18 of 19 field goal attempts last year, and his only miss was blocked. He went 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards and 8-for-8 from 40-49 yards en route to setting an NCAA record for making 89.5 percent of his attempted field goals in his college football career.
A member of the NFL's 2000s All-Decade team, Akers’ career as an Eagle is over. After selecting Henery in the fourth round, expectations for the kid are that he comes in and starts right away.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a 24-year-old. It’ll be interesting to see if he can handle it.
So let's see...
The most experienced starting linebacker is Moise Fokou, who is entering just his third season. And even though he is at a new position, he's also moving to the weak-side from the strong-side.
The starting middle linebacker is a fourth-round rookie, and two seventh-round draft picks are starting on the outside.
Can you name them?
Don't be surprised if you said no, because without Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims in 2011, the Eagles' inexperienced linebacking corps will be the worst in the league.
With the hiring of offensive line coach Juan Castillo, the Philadelphia Eagles found their replacement for the late Jim Johnson and the short-tenured Sean McDermott, who was fired after just two short seasons as the defensive coordinator.
Offensive line coach. Really?
A coach with the Eagles since 1996, Castillo takes over a defense that has depth on the defensive line and at cornerback, but is still going with a young, unproven trio of linebackers, plus the Eagles have multiple questions at safety.
Sorry to say, but the Eagles' disastrous defensive performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers during their second preseason game—giving up 21 points and 262 yards in the first half—is a sign of things to come for this defensive unit.
After one solid defensive performance in the preseason, don't believe all is well in Philadelphia. While Castillo's guys looked a lot better, faster and more physical, let me remind you their opponent was the Cleveland Browns—not a Super Bowl contender.
With no veteran linebacker and a newly-formed triple-threat at cornerback still learning how to play together, it could be a long season in Philadelphia.
Well, at least on the defensive side of the ball.
Despite all their flashy free-agency signings over this past offseason, the offensive line is still a major weakness for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Starting this season, the Eagles will be looking to a first-round pick—guard Danny Watkins—to improve an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks last season, the fourth most in the NFL. And even with the elusive Vick playing in 11 full games, don't expect much from the rookie or to see an improvement.
Rookie Jason Kelce will start at center over longtime starter Jamaal Jackson. Todd Herremans has been moved from guard to starting right tackle, and Evan Mathis has been inserted into the starting lineup at guard.
The Eagles only have one starter in the same spot as a year ago in their new defensive system—this is not the ideal way to enter a season. A bad offensive line means the fragile Vick will likely take a beating that once again might lead to a season-ending injury.
The Eagles might be the "Dream Team" on paper, but it might be a nightmarish season come Week 17.
Both 30 years old, Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel aren’t exactly entering the prime of their careers.
Well, age-wise, at least.
Each with nine NFL seasons under their belts, don't expect both of these players to perform at a high level this season. The number of elite cornerbacks in NFL history who are over 30 and still elite are few and far between.
I’m not saying they won’t be good, because the odds are they will be. Then again, the Eagles paid a lot for Asomugha, so he better still be the Pro-Bowler they signed him to be.
At the same time, strong passing attacks should be able to move the ball effectively against the Eagles' secondary. That's something Philadelphia fans don’t want to hear, but unfortunately, will have to get used to.
The last time the Eagles won the Super Bowl:
- Cassius Clay won his first professional fight after having won the gold medal in the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.
- The New York Yankees' Bobby Richardson became the only World Series MVP ever to be selected from the losing team after the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Yankees 4-3 in the 1960 World Series.
- The Detroit Red Wings' Gordie Howe won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player.
- Rod Laver won the Australian Open.
- Wilma Rudolph was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year.
If you already think it's been a long time, it's going to be one year longer after 2011.
Year after year, fans and media alike declare NFL teams Super Bowl champions before the year even starts. Rarely are the "paper" winners the teams hoisting the Lombardi Trophy come season's end.
Last year everyone thought the Dallas Cowboys were headed to the Super Bowl, and they ended up going 6-10. And let's not forget about the Jets, who were expected to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl the last two seasons. Although a loss in the AFC Championship is nothing to get upset about, they still were unable to live up to the hype.
The Eagles will be a solid team this year and, in all likelihood, they will win the NFC East, earning a trip to the playoffs.
But playing in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl?
Don't expect that from a team with more problems and more competition than many people realize.
When Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was asked about analysts picking teams other than the Packers to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl—especially the Eagles and the Saints—Finley said, "I ain’t worrying about all that. Like I said, all that talk with the Eagles and Saints if you want, that will come to a halt, I guarantee you."
Take a look, Eagles fans.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this one is PRICELESS.
And even if the Eagles are the NFC representative in the Super Bowl, they're not getting past Brady and the Patriots.
In 2007, they saw a perfect season go by the wayside, but this year the Patriots will return to football glory as Super Bowl Champions.
You can take that one to the bank.