Talk about a smart move last year in letting McNabb go. Coach Andy Reid and GM Howie Roseman can't exactly take credit for it. No one could have predicted the year Michael Vick had. 3018 yards passing, 21 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions resulting in a 100.2 quarterback rating. Are you kidding me? Good for Vick and the Eagles as well.
Yet for all the excitement and explosive power on offense - and boy are the Eagles exciting - Philadelphia is wildly overrated.
To have only won 10 games with a finalist in the MVP voting, a thousand yard rusher and arguably the most electric player in the league in Desean Jackson tells you the Eagles weren't the dynamite team that everyone was labeling them. Save for a 21 point furious comeback against the Giants the Eagles struggled mightily down the stretch.
Youth, nagging injuries to Jackson and a defense that was uncharacteristically mistake-prone prevented the Eagles from being a truly elite team. Ultimately though, with Michael Vick coming back and McCoy, Jackson, Maclin and Celek back in the mix, the Eagles should only soar higher.
Season in Review: Played below their potential
Its almost hard to believe given what an unknown the quarterback position was before the start of the season, but once Vick got going, their potential seemed limitless. Therefore ending the season with three consecutive losses - including to GB in the playoffs - was a hard pill to swallow for Eagles fans who expected so much more and are never afraid to voice their displeasure.
The Eagles did have a couple of standout wins along the way including a very good home win against Atlanta and nice wins against the Colts and Giants in Philly as well. No win will be more remembered, cherished or bragged about than the Eagles' thrilling come-from-behind stunner against the Giants. Had Philly lost that game, their playoff chances would have been obsolete. As it was, the Eagles lost the next three. Nonetheless, Philly fans will remember Desean Jackson's game winning punt return touchdown for decades to come.
Offseason Momentum: Limitless
You have to imagine that Vick won't be quite as good as last season. Still, the Eagles are the most explosive offense in the league and may be the only team that wouldn't be willing to swap receivers with the Colts.
Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant in the slot are downright dangerous. Sinorice Moss is a quality 4th receiver as well.
Add LeSean McCoy to the mix, and Michael Vick may not have to preform at the same level as last season. Even if his game were to dip, the playmaking ability of his receivers and McCoy is more than enough to pick up the slack.
The Eagles are the ultimate Madden team. Every time any one of them touches the ball, he has a chance to take it to the house.
If Vick just chucks it up, there is a good chance that Jackson will come down with it. A screen to McCoy usually means at least 10 yards and if Vick keeps it himself then who knows what incredible moves he might make.
Offseason Anxiety: Can Vick do it again? and what about the defense
The defense was always the strength of the team. Instead, particularly Asante Samuels, the unit has turned into a thuggish underachieving group (in fairness - Samuels falls under the thuggish part of that statement).
The struggles are evidently so bad that coach Juan Castillo who spent his first year leading the offensive line was promoted to defensive coordinator. Uhhh what?
Can you imagine Pete Metzelaars taking over for Larry Coyer? Jim Cadwell might really be in hot water then...
As a unit, the defense finished 15th against both the run and the pass, which aside from being impressively consistent and balanced, will not cut it for an Andy Reid defense.
When your leading tackler is a safety and manages only 88 total tackles, you know you are in trouble (especially when he is a free agent).
A group that since the Jevon Kearse days has prided itself on playing as a collective whole instead played collectively mediocre football.
Another key question mark is the health and production of Mike Vick. By quarterback standards, Vick took a beating. Sacked 34 times (which, given his penchant for dancing around in the pocket and holding the ball for the entirety of a CBS 60 minutes production, is not the offensive lines' fault), Andy Reid needs to do more to protect his now-franchise QB.
It's a fine line. Reel him in too much and you take away Vick's effectiveness and general aura. Let him loose and you risk a devastating injury. Vick showed he can be a pocket quarterback; the question is: is that really in the team's best interest in terms of maximizing his effectiveness?
Draft Desires: A defensive playmaker
The Eagles found their offensive star and have plenty dynamic offensive talent. Now they need to find the same for the defense, hence one of the reasons Sean McDermott was replaced by an offensive line coach, who by the way was in turn replaced by Howard Mudd. A sad, sad, day that was for Colts' fans.
Anyway, back to the Eagles draft needs.
One area in which they must improve is the pass rush. Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson can fill that void. Scouts raved about his combine workout and his athleticism. He is still quite raw, but the upside may more than make up for it. Adrian Clayborn from Iowa is another player who can really get after the quarterback. If the Eagles don't look at defense first, then expect them to take one of Clayborn's main adversaries, Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi.
Whichever position they don't address in the first round, be it offensive tackle or pass rusher, you can bet that the Eagles will hone in on it with their following pick.
Free Agency Farewells: Linebackers, David Akers
One reason linebackers may hold extra value with Philadelphia is the fact that Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan and Ernie Sims are all potential free agents. Don't expect the Eagles to let them all walk. Those 4 guys account for almost all the team's production at that position. At the same time, it's hard to imagine Philadelphia is willing to resign more than 2 of them considering their relatively insignificant contributions.
That is why you can't count out a guy like UCLA's linebacker Akeem Ayers being selected either.
Unfortunately for Eagles' fans, Philadelphia also has to worry about losing starting corner Ellis Hobbes and safety Quintin Mikel and to make matters worse, earlier in the day, long-time Eagles' kicker David Akers refused to sign a one-year tender.
Threat to the Stampede: Low
They beat us this year and rather shamefully torpedoed our super bowl aspirations with a vicious hit on Austin Collie that knocked him out most of the season (the hit wasn't shameful - it was how Samuels jumped around like an idiot after). We know the Eagles are a good team, there is no denying that. The problem for Philly fans is that after a down year the NFC East should once again be the toughest division in football. Sometimes with young teams consistency can be a problem. Even if they do further mature, the schedule is just really that brutal that the Eagles may end up a top 10 team and miss the playoffs entirely.