When a preseason favorite goes down hard, fans rejoice in collective mirth at that team's expense.
What better example of that was there than the Miami Heat this year? After superstars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh all took smaller contracts so they could play on the same team and win a championship, then failed to perform in the NBA Finals, losing a 4-2 series to the Dallas Mavericks, basketball fans could not help but take pleasure in the team's defeat.
In a way, the same is happening with the Philadelphia Eagles. While it is not the same situation (the Eagles are nowhere near the Lombardi Trophy at this point), it draws many parallels.
You have the controversial, yet highly dynamic, player in Michael Vick. You sign a who's who list of players from Ronnie Brown to Nnamdi Asomugha to Vince Young. This team was as hyped as the Heat were going into their season, both being expected to steamroll their division and claim the title that was theirs.
Then, the struggles set in.
The Eagles have lost three straight, with their only win coming by the way of the winless St. Louis Rams. Note that these are games that have been extremely competitive, but often are not the result of the other team outplaying the Eagles. They are the result of the Eagles completely self-destructing. Last week was the perfect example. The Eagles were up 20-0 going into halftime against a so-far unimpressive team in San Francisco. Yet the 49ers were able to mount the comeback, winning the game 24-23.
Normally, after these types of losses, it is pretty easy to write off a team as a contender. But is that the right thing to do? After all, the talent is there. There is a high-powered offense with Vick, McCoy, Jackson and Maclin. The defense sports some of the best cornerbacks in the league in Asomugha, Samuel and Rodgers-Cromartie. But there is a lot of room for improvement. The offensive line has been terrible, allowing pressure in the backfield almost every play (just ask Mike Vick). There is an almost inability to stop the rush on defense and just an overall ability to put a game away.
Personally, in a division where the Redskins are currently top dog, I would not count out the Eagles as a postseason contender. The division has appeared weak for a while, and it will not take much to get back to the top. Obviously, the line is where it begins and ends on both sides of the ball, and that is where the Eagles must improve. But they will. The offensive line is going to feel the pressure everyone has put on them and make a push to be at least serviceable. And with such a talented secondary, this defense will only get better. If you want an example, just look at the Indianapolis Colts (not this season obviously, but in past years). The high-powered offense of Peyton Manning was able to mask the problems on defense by putting up points and forcing the other team to play catch up. They had a horrible run defense, but they were still able to win games. If the Eagles want to save their season, they must take this mentality and make their offense the best defense it can be.
With such talent, I feel like there is almost no chance that the Eagles can continue this slump. They can still regain that magic they had last season and make a strong case for the Lombardi the rest of this season. Heck, the Heat, like them or not, managed to do it, and almost succeeded in winning it all.
Then again, I could be wrong. Vick could get hurt (again), and the team could have to rely on Vince Young. Other teams may run all over them. Maybe they end up even below five hundred. If they keep playing the way they have, especially later in the game, then they have no shot.
But I'm optimistic about their chances.
And if I'm wrong?
Well, then all you readers get to flame me, don't you?