Monday, September 5, 2011

NFL 32 in 32: Philadelphia Eagles

Here comes the dream team! Or so Vince Young thinks. The Eagles last season surprised many people with the resurgence of Michael Vick, and they won the NFC East. They went on a signing spree in free agency, and many think that this is a team that can outlast many in the league. However, does being the Super Bowl champions of free agency mean that they will become the Super Bowl Champions of 2011?

What's New: This team has more change than possibly any 2 random teams in the NFL combined this offseason, as will be proven with 8 new starters on defense. Of course, the major offseason signing was CB Nnamdi Asomugha from Oakland, and he should form maybe the best trio of corners ever in the NFL with Asante Samuel, and newcomer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who came over in the Kevin Kolb trade. On defense, they also added DE Jason Babin from Tennessee and DE Cullen Jenkins from Green Bay, who should help a very good defensive line get even better this season. And that's only the tip of the iceberg of the defensive changes. Also, they added a slew of players on offense, including WR Steve Smith from the New York Giants, WR Johnnie Lee Higgins from Oakland, RB Ronnie Brown from Miami, QB Vince Young from Tennessee, T Ryan Harris from Denver, TE Donald Lee from Green Bay, G Evan Mathis from Cincinnati... (pants, out of breath, takes deeper breath)... And this doesn't even include the many losses the Eagles had too. So, the amount of changes that this roster underwent were numerous, but it was all for the better and vast improvement of the talent.

Biggest Strength: With Mike Vick's resurgence last season, expectations are incredibly high, especially due to the shiny new 6 year, $100 million contract he just signed. He has a lot of weight on his shoulders to perform well, and it does help that he has great players at the skill positions. RB LeSean McCoy is incredibly explosive, and can create big plays quickly, and he should partner well with newcomer Ronnie Brown, and form an impressive tandem in the backfield. The Eagles also have impressive wideouts like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Steve Smith, etc, and they have a great TE in Brent Celek too. On defense, they have a very impressive pass rush that only got better with the acquisitions. Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, and a host of others should be able to generate a fierce pass rush. The cornerback group may be the best in the league with their group, and it should be able to shut down receivers well.

Biggest Weakness: Their offensive line was a problem last season, and it could be a bigger problem this season. They lost Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles to free agency, and they will replace them with inexperienced, younger players, and the bulk of the new changes are on the right side of the line (Mike Vick's blindside). This has been a major problem in the preseason, and could continue to be one in the regular season. With Vick only having one injury free season in his career, injuries could become a major concern for him. On defense, they are starting a rookie MLB in fourth round pick Casey Matthews, and while he may be related to a certain LB in Green Bay, he is still a rookie, and has to captain and whole new unit and new defense led by new D-Coordinator Juan Castillo. The Eagles historically have also had problems defending the tight end in the past, and a rookie middle linebacker may only hurt that. There are also issues at the safety position, but that might be masked by the presence of great corners.

Outlook: The Eagles should have no problem with winning the NFC East, but they may have some problems beating the best in the NFC such as New Orleans, Green Bay, and Atlanta. They will have to fight through some of the roster deficiencies that they have, but they should be able to. But, their true test comes in the postseason, and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to pass it or not.

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