Category Archives: Eagles

Twitter

Shoulder Pad GuyAt the behest of @FanSince09, I am documenting the twitter meltdown that occurred on November 28, 2012. Gather round as I recount this glorious night.

If you are an Eagles fan, you probably recognize the man on the right. He’s been seen booing the selection of Donovan McNabb on ESPN, he’s been on TV crying when Brian Dawkins left Philadelphia and he gets a pretty decent amount of face time simply because of how absurd he is. But what you probably didn’t realize was that this crazed, attention starved man didn’t have a twitter so someone took the liberty of making a parody account that mocks Shaun (that’s his name).

It all started at approximately 8:48 EST on November 27th as some unknown genius created an account named “@ShoulderPadsGuy”. Little did this unnamed person know, he would set off a twitter fire storm that ended up involving Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas, a slew of Philadelphia fans and a lot of hilarity.

https://twitter.com/ShoulderPadsGuy/status/273604238968500225

The account toiled in twitter irrelevance for about day and @FanSince09 was peddling the parody account around twitter when suddenly, @ShoulderPadsGuy got a retweet from Brian Dawkins:

And then, things blew up as Brian Dawkins learned the account was fake and he had been duped.

It is time for Foles.

Alright Sunshine, I hope you’re ready.

Let me repeat: It is time for Foles. It’s time.

Before the season, I was as steadfast a Vick supporter as you would find. I told myself that Michael Vick would improve because he finally had a full off-season within the offense. I told myself that Michael Vick would finally command this offense mentally. I thought this would be the year if finally came together for Michael Vick. Little did I know, this would be the year everything fell apart.

I started having doubts in the pre-season. I knew something wasn’t right, I felt it in my gut. But I ignored my instincts to go along with groupthink. I talked with some fellow Eagles fans and they convinced me: everything would be fine. I had concerns but I forced myself to be hopeful. Week one came and all my worst fears regarding Vick came to fruition and outside of a great performance against a horrible Baltimore defense, it hasn’t been fixed. We’re missing plays that we make in 2010 or 2011. Vick’s accuracy is horrible. His passing against blitzes is subpar. He’s getting the ball out late and holding onto the ball entirely too long. And his pocket skills are as bad as ever, if not worse. He’s completely melted down. Completely.

Let me paint you a picture with some numbers:

The Angle I’m Taking

I decided before the season that I wasn’t going to bail on the Eagles. I decided that I was on this train until we were officially out of it and despite the issues facing this team, I’m sticking with that. But after watching the team choke away their seventh fourth quarter lead in two seasons, I said something had to change.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/IgglesNest/status/257591057129279488"]

Two days into the bye week, Andy made a change: Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo, the chokiest of chokers that ever choked as an Eagles coordinator.

Juan Castillo had worked here since 1995, that’s 17 years. By all accounts, Andy and Juan were good friends who genuinely respected one another. Juan Castillo has been a piece of this Eagles organization since Fletcher Cox was in pre-school. Make no mistake, this is a big move that serves as a warning shot to every single person in the Eagles organization. If Andy Reid can part with Juan Castillo, he can part with anyone. Now some have called this move unprecedented simply because Andy has never fired a coordinator mid-season before but I’d argue that similar moves have been made by Andy in the past.

In 2006 the Eagles were in their first season after Brad Childress left to coach the Minnesota Vikings and Andy Reid had taken over play calling duties. After struggling to a 5-6 record and McNabb getting hurt, Andy turned the play calling over to Marty Mornhinweg and they won 5 straight games to end the regular season and make the playoffs where they won a game against the New York Giants.

In 2008, the Eagles were playing sloppy football that culminated in a tie with the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. The next week, the Eagles didn’t improve a bit against the Baltimore Ravens and Andy Reid pulled the plug on Donovan McNabb. Kevin Kolb comes in and plays like Kevin Kolb but the message had been sent, Andy wasn’t playing around. What happens afterwards? The Eagles go on to win 4 of the last 5 games and they make the playoffs where they end up making the NFC Championship game and nearly make the Superbowl.

We’ve pulled somewhat similar moves twice before and both years, it paid off for Andy Reid and the Eagles. Things are looking bad right now but lets not forget that we’re 3-3 and in second place in the division. We’re on a bye week and we all know Andy’s record coming off of bye weeks. Last time we played Atlanta at home coming off of a bye week, we dismantled them. We’re still very much in the thick of things. We match-up with the Atlanta Falcons very well. They’re barely gutting out wins lately and there is nothing that suggests the Eagles can’t beat them. If we beat the undefeated Falcons and become 4-3, that changes things a bit.

And here is something I take solace in, we’re really struggling on offense but it’s because of Michael Vick. We’re still winning on the outside with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. We’re just missing easy chances. That can be fixed. And if it can’t, we can easily put in Nick Foles. Say what you want about Nick Foles but when DeSean Jackson gets a step, I have faith in his ability to throw him an accurate ball which is something Vick isn’t doing now. Most struggling teams don’t have two QB options, if Vick continues to struggle we can plug in our knight in shining armor, Nick “Glory” Foles.

We’ve got issues but we’re not out of it… yet.

Regarding Vick

Michael Vick turning the ball over. This is an all too common sight lately.

The Eagles are 3-2 and they’re tied for the division lead. We’ve gutted out 3 close wins. We lost to the Steelers by two points. Everything is good. The Eagles are 8th in yards allowed per game on defense, 10th in scoring defense, 11th in yards per game on offense and 8th in the NFL in rushing attempts. Things are going well, right?

Wrong. Oh, so wrong. What I failed to mention is that we lead the NFL in red-zone turnovers, Michael Vick is the most hit QB in the NFL, we’re the second lowest scoring offense in the league only above the Jacksonville Jaguars (!!!) and we’re once again at the bottom of the league in turnover ratio.

People who are going around saying that “We’re 3-2, we’re a-okay!” are oversimplifying things, they’ve taken things so out of focus that they’re not able to actually evaluate the team’s performance. It’s easy to say “We’re number one!’ without looking further into the problems the Eagles have. Yes, we’ve won three of five games but there are 16 games in a season and unless things start shaping up quickly, we could easily see this unfocused picture change very, very quickly. The problem(s) the Eagles have don’t appear to be being solved, it’s the same thing every single week and soon, it will come back to bite this team again just like it did Sunday.

What’s the problem? Michael Vick, otherwise known as “Mr. Turnover” (I made that up, aren’t I clever?). Since the start of last season (that’s 21 games), Michael Vick has missed 3 games and in the other 18 games he’s played in he’s turned the ball over 29 times. I repeat, Michael Vick has turned the ball over TWENTY NINE TIMES IN EIGHTEEN GAMES. In that same span he’s scored 26 times. Vick is turning the ball over more than he is scoring the ball. And just for funsies, there have been 3 QBs to take snaps for the Eagles in the past 21 games and they’ve combined for a whopping total of 40 turnovers.

  • Michael Vick has attempted 185 passes, 7th most in the league
  • Michael Vick has thrown for 1321 yards, 8th most in the league
  • Michael Vick has completed 58.5% of his passes, 24th in the league
  • Michael Vick has 7 touchdown passes, 17th best in the league
  • Michael Vick is averaging 7.1 yards per attempt, 17th worst in the league
  • Michael Vick has 6 interceptions, the 6th worst mark in the league.
  • 34.1% of Michael Vick’s passes have been for first downs, the 20th best mark in the league
  • Michael Vick has 18 passes of 20 yards or more, 10th best in the league
Michael Vick is top 10 in yards but that is simply because he’s throwing so many passes. The other stats indicate that Michael Vick is playing below average thus far. And on ProFootballFocus, Michael Vick’s accuracy percentage, deep ball accuracy, completion percentage under pressure and accuracy percentage under pressure are all in the bottom third of qualifying QBs. It just hasn’t been a good season from Michael Vick.
But a lot of problems aren’t quantified by numbers and statistics. He’s holding the ball too long. He’s not getting the ball out on time. He’s not getting the ball out accurately. He’s starting to throw off his back foot. He won’t step up in the pocket. He’s starting to get skittish and he’s focusing on the pressure. He’s just so inefficient as a QB, his game lacks basic fundamental structure despite the fact that he’s been in this league for 10 years now. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch.

http://youtu.be/ec_xUOQELSY?hd=1&t=20s
Start at the :20 second mark (I already marked it, just press play) and you’ll see a perfect example of Michael Vick holding the ball too long. He gets good protection initially but he needs to get rid of that ball. Hell, you can see Jason Avant get open at the top of your screen but Michael Vick just misses it.
http://youtu.be/ec_xUOQELSY?hd=1&t=57s
Again, Michael Vick just needs to get rid of that ball.
I hate to be that guy but with each passing week, I wonder more and more what Nick Foles has. Some fans would have you believe you were unseating Tom Brady in favor of Koy Detmer the way you here them address our QB situation but the reality is that Michael Vick isn’t play well and he isn’t even playing like a top 16 QB this year. All Nick Foles would have to do to be better is be average and hold onto the ball and I kind of want to see if he can do that. I’m not ready to pull the plug on Vick nor am I saying we should but I think we should stop pretending that Michael Vick is a star QB.
Oh and Vick is the 8th highest paid player in the entire league this year and he’s playing like this. We’ve got almost 220 million invested in Vick, McCoy, Jackson and Maclin and the only team we’re outscoring is Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pathetic.

Preseason Game One

Last year I made the mistake of brushing the preseason off. I said it was “just the pre-season” and we would pull it together in time for the regular season. I was wrong, darn near everyone was wrong. Maybe I’m just being rounded into a more typical Philly fan as I get older but I’m finding that I’m not quite as optimistic and I’m not willing to brush this off as “just the pre-season” anymore. It doesn’t mean a whole lot but it doesn’t mean nothing either and last night raised some legitimate concerns for the Eagles.

Right off the bat you have to be concerned about the offense on some level. It was a horrid showing for the first and second stringers last night. The Steelers nearly doubled the Eagles time of possession and first downs in the first half. The Eagles went into the locker room down 13-0 and it probably would’ve been worse had Big Ben and company stayed in the game as they were marching down the field and eating up the clock in each of their two drives. This, is a problem. So what happened exactly?

Well for one, Michael Vick had 6 reps and they weren’t very good. He looked skittish in the pocket and it led to two three and outs and a bruised thumb. It’s not time to hit the alarm button. Heck, your hand shouldn’t even be on the alarm at this point but I wouldn’t blame you if you inched closer to it after last night. And he only pushed the ball downfield once and on that play he hit his thumb on Jason Kelce’s helmet on the follow through and it sailed on him.

And if you didn’t appreciate Jason Peters, prepare to appreciate because if last night was any indication, DeMetress Bell is going to have a rough season. I realize Howard Mudd is really, really good but turning DeMetress Bell into anything close to Jason Peters would be nothing short of a miracle. According to ProFootballFocus, Bell has been the 13th worst pass blocker at OT in the NFL over the past 3 years and I find it hard to disagree when Chris Carter, one year removed from being drafted out of Fresno State in the fifth round, is making him look silly. Really rough start for Bell. But on the bright side, it appears he can only get better. And he didn’t do a good job of getting upfield to the second level on LeSean McCoy’s stretch play either.

Well, Big Ben proved once again why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. His escapability proved to be a real challenge for the Eagles defense as he would step up into the pocket and the defensive linemen would charge right past him. Then, when the linebackers and defensive backs acknowledged the possibility of Big Ben running and loosened up on their coverage assignments, he would deliver a strike. Big Ben ended up completing 75% of his passes at rate of 11.625 yards per attempt. Nnamdi was soundly beaten by Antonio Brown on one first down pass where Brown appeared to just sidestep Nnamdi’s jam. On another completion to Brown, Nnamdi fell off of Antonio Brown because Big Ben was rolling left and Aso had to respect Big Ben’s scrambling ability. Overall, it was a tough, tough night for Nnamdi as plays like that regularly occurred and communication issues with Jaiquawn Jarrett occurred with even more regularity.  Thankfully, Nnamdi is typically a good performer and I don’t expect performances like this to happen with any sort of regularity, especially when Nate Allen returns.

And speaking of Nate Allen, you all better hope he doesn’t get hurt this year because his replacements are highly questionable. Jaiquawn Jarrett had about the roughest game I’ve ever seen out of a safety. It was UGLY. Missed assignments in coverage and miscommunications? Yup. Missed tackles? Yup. Horrible angles? Yup. Running into Vinny Curry? Yep, that happened and it was his best hit of the night. And despite his reputation as a physical player, I saw him being manhandled by a run blocking Steelers receiver in the red-zone. Jaiquawn Jarrett is still playing at MAC speed and it is painfully obvious. I’ve been trying to convince myself that Jaiquawn Jarrett might need time to become a good player but he might need more time than I ever anticipated.

And tackling was bad once again. I swear, it must be something in the water because everyone turns into a bad tackler once they get to Philadelphia. Jaiquawn Jarrett, one of the most physical safeties and best tackles in his draft, suddenly turned soft after becoming an Eagle. Mychal Kendricks, another good hitter in college, slid off his first two tackles of the night. And DeMeco Ryans, who has been one of the most prolific tacklers in the league over the past couple years completely whiffed on a tackle attempt on Chris Rainey. It’s incredibly disappointing to watch the Eagles consistently struggle with one of the most elementary aspects of playing football.

There was some good and bad for the first string defense. The good is that they limited the Steelers first string offense to 3.4 yards per play on the first drive. The bad is that they couldn’t come up with stops on third down and they gave up nearly 7 yards per play against the Steelers second string offense.

But over the course of the whole game, the Eagles’ defense had a fantastic showing as they held the Steelers to 230 yards and 3.5 yards per play. And the best part is that the Eagles turned the performance in with some sketchy tackling. I imagine things will get even better as the Eagles inevitably tackle better.

Bright Spots:

Mychal Kendricks: He really showed off his athleticism in this game and he had absolutely no trouble going sideline to sideline. And despite sliding off his first two tackles, he got better as the game went on and his best tackle was against a Steelers RB in space. He did a good job of not getting caught up in the trash and he didn’t appear to be hesitating or taking bad angles like Casey Matthews was last year. He looks like an obvious upgrade over Moise Fokou and Jamar Chaney from last year.

Nick Foles: He blew my expectations away. He did a good job of getting the ball out of his hand and he navigated the pocket well, buying time when he needed to. And he certainly did a good job of showing off his arm and deep ball accuracy. But what I liked most is that he wasn’t afraid to throw the ball up and give his players a chance to make a play. Very rarely do (did) Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb make those sort of throws because they’re the sort of QBs who tend to throw to wait for a guy to uncover himself. But elite guys like Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers put faith in their receivers and put the ball out there for them to make plays. That throw to Mardy Gilyard was fantastic simply because he had the guts to make it.

The Return Game: Brandon Boykin and Damaris Johnson had good showings and both look like upgrades at the KR and PR spots.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: He didn’t allow any big catches in coverage and I despite being flagged for the hit on Byron Lefwich, I like the fact that DRC is going out there and attacking ball carriers. Last year he was called out for seemingly walking around at times instead of pursuing the ball carrier so seeing him brutally hit someone represents quite the change for him and I like it. Maybe next time he’ll stay on his feet.

Kurt Coleman: The guy plays hard, hits hard and plays mean. I appreciate that.

The Defensive Line: 7 sacks, 7 QB hits and MUCH more pressure. The Eagles defensive line had a stellar night and that was without Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Mike Patterson. The defensive line is without a doubt the strong point of this team.

Not So Bright Spots:

Brian Rolle: He left his feet on the fourth down play and opened up a cut back lane for Isaac Redman that he took advantage of. He bit on a few of Big Ben’s play extensions and misses some assignments. If he plays like this we better hope Jamar Chaney steps up and earns the WLB job.

Missed Tackles: Already mentioned it. I really hope it gets better.

Jaiquawn Jarrett: I mentioned it already but if he keeps up this horrible play for the rest of the pre-season, I won’t be upset if he’s cut.

The First String Offense: Michael Vick needs to play better in the pocket than he did last night and DeMetress Bell needs to play better too. When your QB and LT aren’t playing well that’s not exactly a recipe for success. For now I’ll chalk this up to first game rust/jitters but I’ll be expecting more out of them next week. They need to play better.

Joe Banner is laughing at the Eagles?

That’s what Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe says (link).

Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson started a rap label and dropped $25,000 at a Los Angeles launch party. In his office that is still inside the Eagles’ NovaCare facility, former team president Joe Banner is having a good laugh. Jackson received his $47 million extension, in good measure, because Banner had his contract power usurped. Banner never would have done that deal.

If Joe Banner is laughing, the joke is on him and I’m not saying that because I’m DeSean Jackson’s biggest fan (spoiler: I’m not). Joe Banner got so caught up in his hardball, penny pinching methodology that it became counter productive and it started hurt the team.

You don’t have to tell me that DeSean Jackson probably didn’t deserve the big contract he was handed. And you don’t have to tell me that DeSean is a giant “hot dog” on and off the field. DeSean Jackson is flawed, there can be no credible arguments to the contrary. Yes, DeSean Jackson got suspended for missing a special teams meeting. Yes, DeSean Jackson is afraid to go over the middle. Yes, DeSean Jackson was dogging his routes last season. Yes, DeSean Jackson drops more than his fair share of passes. Yes, DeSean Jackson has seemingly been afraid of contact since the Dunta hit. And yes, his lack of size inhibits his ability to effectively run a full route tree. All of these things are undeniably true.

But consider this: The disgruntled, quiet DeSean Jackson that I saw last year wasn’t the same guy I saw in the first three years of his career. How much did negative contract negotiations with Joe Banner have to do with this? Personally, I think knowing you’ve got a price tage would make someone pretty upset. How would you feel if you knew you were only worth so much to the franchise and if you disagreed, they’d pack your bags for you. If you knew that was happening, would you give your all?

And I’m not the only one that noticed DeSean Jackson wasn’t the same last year. Michael Vick has noted DeSean’s improved attitude and WR coach David Culley has said that DeSean was playing not to get hurt last year.

Think, what would have happened if Joe Banner got his way? We would’ve franchised DeSean and dragged contract negotiations out even longer? Having a discontented DeSean Jackson really worked wonders for us last year. We would’ve let go of a valuable asset for free? Brilliant… Despite what Joe Banner thinks, DeSean Jackson is an integral part of this team. When he’s happy and swaggering about, the Eagles are better. When DeSean Jackson is running his routes and stretching defenses, the Eagles are better. And even when DeSean Jackson is hot-dogging it, he still does something for the Eagles…

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/MoveTheSticks/status/199536487296016384"]

Joe Banner was a master at saving the Eagles money but Joe Banner is a business man, not a football man and he clearly failed to take team chemistry and team morale into account, DeSean Jackson encapsulates that perfectly, as do Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, Terrell Owens and Lito Sheppard.

In A Cruel, Cruel World

It was horrific. It was the sort of season you tell your grand children about when they think their team is having a bad year. They were the worst of times. You know how something bad isn’t so bad when you’re expecting it? Like when you go to a scary movie you hardly ever get scared because you know that it’s going to be scary so you’re expecting it?  Or when you see your company going downhill and you brace yourself for your *ahem* termination? It’s still awful and heartbreaking but you sort of saw it coming. Do you know what I’m talking about? Good, because it wasn’t like that at all.

Fresh off of trouncing the Browns, Ravens and Cardinals the Eagles were flying high heading into their against the Giants. ESPN has them ranked top five in their power rankings and there is no reason for them to stop rising. NFL Network is hyping them up as contenders. Giants fans were so scared that they’re constantly talking about their superbowl rings like they matter. And everyone was wondering, can Michael Vick and the Eagles win the superbowl? And their questions were answered on September 30th. It was September 30th, 2012 when it happened.

Michael Vick threw an absolute bomb down the sideline to DeSean Jackson who appeared to be off to the races. But thanks to a little showmanship from DeSean Jackson, Prince Amukamara caught up and ripped the ball loose. Prince recovered the ball and takes off  down the right sideline when suddenly, just in the corner of the frame, you see Mark Herzlich make contact with Michael Vick. Shortly after Prince runs out of bounds, NBC cuts to a shot of Vick laying on the field, “Michael Vick is down on the field after the play. We’ll update you after the break”. Sure enough, after the break NBC replays the Vick hit and it shows Herzlich picking Vick up right in between the shoulders, lifting him off of his feet and plowing him shoulder first into the turf. But the real update comes after halftime when Al Michaels tells us all that Michael Vick is not returning to the game. Mike Kafka comes in and the Eagles lose the game.

On Wednesday, the story leaks: Michael Vick fractured his right shoulder, clavicle (collar bone), damaged his rotator cuff, has a neck sprain and a pretty gnarly concussion. He’ll need surgery on his shoulder and he’ll be out for the season. Heartbreak.

Predictably, the Eagles struggle without Michael Vick and after the season Andy Reid is fired. Howie Roseman hits the reset button and moves Michael Vick, a now 33 year old QB who hasn’t played a full season since 2006. And with their top five pick, the Eagles select the USC golden boy, Heisman winner and national champion Matt Barkley.

The new face of the franchise.

And suddenly, after all Andy Reid and his teams had done, the Eagles are back to square one. What a cruel, cruel world. All it took was an injury to Michael Vick and the Eagles’ season went up in smoke and the hopes of every Eagles fan were absolutely demolished.

 

In A Perfect World

All is good in Eagles-land.

It’s happening again, Dave Spadaro is getting everyone’s hopes up. He’s making Dion Lewis sound like the next Barry Sanders, Riley Cooper sound like Harold Carmichael and Demetress Bell sound like Jonathan Ogden. Eagles fans everywhere are pumped and can’t wait for the football to begin. In an “Eagles Live!” segment, Spadaro and crew cut to a package put together by the always entertaining E-Rock where he talks to Eagles fans about their expectations for the season. One fan says “Superbowl or bust baby!” and then lets out a rousing E-A-G-L-E-S chant that gets everyone within a few hundred feet all riled up. It’s August and it’s happening again, Eagles hysteria.

Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen hit the road on their annual training camp tour and their praise of the Eagles is effusive. Adam Schefter says “You need to watch out for the Eagles, they’re looking to avenge last year’s disappointment” and Mort talks about the positive energy surrounding the Eagles. Then ESPN cuts to Trey Wingo and the “NFL Live” panel of experts and Eric Allen, Marcellus Wiley and Ron Jaworski all say the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East.

And over at NFL Network, the story isn’t much different. Michael Irvin and Marshall Faulk both agree that the Eagles are dangerous and Jaime Dukes proclaims loudly that the Eagles are the winners of the offseason (*cringe*). The camera pans to a confused Rich Eisen who says “Hold on now, didn’t we hear this last year too? It seems like I hear this every year about the Eagles, what is different now?”. Michael Irvin begins screaming about how happy DeSean Jackson is. Marshall Faulk talks about how great LeSean McCoy is and how Michael Vick is getting his first full offseason as a starter since leaving prison. Jaime Dukes mumbles some insufferable crap that makes no sense and then Warren Sapp widens his eyes and says “I don’t know about all that but that defensive line is scaaaaary” and then chuckles.

The press is all over the defense at training camp, they consistently praise how fast and aggressive the unit has become. In a press conference with Andy Reid and Juan Castillo, Juan reiterates the importance of fundamentals and says that “it’s been fun because we’re able to install more stuff this year”. Jeff McClane asks the coaches if they’re concerned about the size of the defense to which Andy replies: “Listen, we’re getting our best players on the field. They might be small but I tell ya, they look good and they’ll hit ya. Cough.” Geoff Mosher in particular has taken a shining to Mychal Kendricks, continuously noting how athletic and fast he is. Jimmy Kempski notes the stark difference between watching Jamar Chaney at strong side linebacker this year and Kendricks this year. And everybody fawns over Demeco Ryans’ leadership skills.

Yep.

Eagles fans for the most part are weary but after witnessing the Eagles absolutely annihilate the Steelers in the first week of the pre-season there is a strong buzz surrounding the Eagles. All of a sudden, some of the bold fans are saying they expect nothing less than a superbowl victory. They cruise through the pre-season, losing only once to the Jets in the last week of the pre-season when Tebow works some of his Tebow magic on the second string defense. The hype train is moving full speed ahead. Then, the Eagles jump out of the gate in the regular season, absolutely trouncing the Cleveland Browns to the tune of 38-7. Suddenly, the media is all over the Eagles bandwagon and they are widely regarded as a serious contender.

Michael Vick shows improvement in the pocket, he goes through his progressions better and after extensive film study over the offseason, he and Jason Kelce show that they can adjust the protections based on what the defense is showing them. All while still maintaining that trademark Michael Vick flair. But most importantly, Michael Vick’s turnover rate drops back to normal levels after an anomaly last season.

DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin both return to form. DeSean is no longer playing not to get hurt, he isn’t hotdogging his routes and he isn’t ducking contact. Jeremy Maclin is back up to speed (and strength) after a cancer scare in the 2011 offseason that clearly hurt him this past season. And Jeremy Maclin is fully healthy too after dealing with an assortment of knicks and bruises in 2011. Michael Vick’s discovery of Brent Celek carries over too so they’ve got DeSean and Jeremy stretching defenses vertically while Brent Celek eats up the middle of the field and punishes potential tacklers.

And LeSean McCoy is LeSean McCoy and he further cements his status as the best back in the NFL not named Adrian Peterson.

The offensive line play doesn’t skip a beat. Sure, Demetress Bell isn’t Jason Peters but the rest of the line more than compensates for the decline at left tackle. Evan Mathis is still putting up rock solid performances. Jason Kelce continues to redeem Howard Mudd for the faith he placed in him, playing at a pro-bowl level just like many in the know have predicted. Danny Watkins develops with a full off-season and he continues to become the Logan Mankins type force that analysts projected him to become. And Todd Herremans is Todd Herremans, the swiss army lineman who just gets the job done and is tough as nails. The line continues to prove they’re athletic, smart and mean.

The defense lives up to the hype that was built up for them over the offseason. With the offense functioning at a high level and putting up points early and often, the defense can just pin their ears back and attack, attack, attack. The team has the highest sack rate in the NFL and Jason Babin and Trent Cole continue to wreck quarterbacks. Cullen Jenkins even knocks Matthew Stafford out of the game against the Lions with a vicious helmet to helmet hit as Stafford tries to slide up the middle. Cullen Jenkins gets suspended for a game but the hit is shown over and over again and the media begins to hail it as an aggressive play that epitomizes the Eagles’ mean (and borderline dirty) defense. And in the Falcons game where Jenkins is suspended, Fletcher Cox steps in seamlessly and records four tackles, two for a loss and a sack. After Jason Babin breaks the non-throwing hand of Matt Ryan, Dan Graziano writes “There is seemingly no stopping the Eagles defensive line, it is nothing short of a force of nature”.

And despite their shorter stature, Brian Rolle, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks start wrecking people behind the Eagles defensive line. Brian Rolle continues to make plays at weakside linebacker and he continues to hit like a mac truck thanks to his low center of gravity and incredibly strong core. DeMeco Ryans looks every bit the tackling machine he was billed as in Houston. And Mychal Kendricks absolutely flies around the field with his athleticism, backing up every bit of bravado he brought to the table.

And with the front seven playing so well, the secondary is benefitting. With Asante Samuel out of the picture, the Eagles use Nnamdi and DRC in more press man coverage, something that suits them. Nate Allen shows the potential that the big wigs in the organization know he has and Kurt Coleman continues to play like a rabid dog on the field. Jaiquawn Jarrett can’t supplant Coleman but he does get more snaps than last season and he makes his presence felt on special teams.

Everything is going great for the Eagles and then… disaster. In week 10, DeMarcus Ware comes racing around the corner unblocked and crushes Michael Vick right in the back as he tries to spin away. Michael Vick writhes in pain on the field and eventually gets carted off. Troy Aikman immeadiately sympathizes with Vick saying “I know what that feels like and I’ll tell ya, it doesn’t feel good”. Mike Kafka comes in to finish the game but he just can’t execute the same game plan that was put together for Vick and the Cowboys rally for the win. Immeadiately, experts all over twitter claim to have known this hot streak couldn’t last for the Eagles and it was only a matter of time before Michael Vick got hurt. Some even wonder if Michael Vick is out for the season.

Thankfully, Michael Vick is diagnosed with a strained neck and a concussion after fears that he might have seriously injured his neck. With a three game lead in the division and a fair amount of confidence in Mike Kafka, the Eagles don’t feel the need to rush Michael Vick back and he misses the next two weeks.

In what can only be seen as an incredibly lucky break, Mike Kafka gets to face the Redskins and Panthers in his two weeks starting, two teams with secondaries that aren’t exactly the best in the NFL. With game plans that are crafted just for him and some stellar defensive performances against Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, Mike Kafka and the Eagles nearly beat the Redskins and they soundly beat the Panthers.  Michael Vick is healthy again and just in time to come back and face the Cowboys in what the media is hyping up as a revenge game. The game lives up to it’s billing and Michael Vick unleashes his wrath on Rob Ryan’s defense.

The Eagles end the season at 12-4  (they sit their starters in week 17, losses to Atlanta, Dallas, Washington, New York) and they’re ranked atop almost every single reputable sports network’s power rankings. They only lost one game with Michael Vick starting and finishing the game. They’re the team to beat. Everything is going right and Eagles hysteria is all over the place, including a Sports Illustrated cover with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on the cover that is titled “Flying High”.

The Eagles have a bye week and they await whatever poor team emerges from the Giants and Bears game. This team ends up being the Chicago Bears, a team that is becoming increasingly annoying to Eagles fans everywhere. On the surface of things, the Bears team is like every other Bears team over the past half decade, nothing flashy and seemingly beatable but they’re scrappy, disciplined and they have enough fire power on offense to win games. The Eagles haven’t had much luck against the Bears lately and some contrarian analysts pick this game as their upset special. Despite a massively better regular season, only 55% of people on ESPN’s Sports Nation predict the Eagles will win the game. On the Fox pre-game show, Michael Strahan uses his magic gap tooth voo-doo to convince Howie Long to pick the Bears to win, leading to only three panel members picking the Eagles to win. Eagles fans everywhere are furious. And then, the game starts… Brandon Boykin returns the opening kick off for a touchdown and the rout is on. With an inspired performance from just about everyone, the Eagles cruise to victory over the scrappy Bears.

But the next game isn’t so easy as the Eagles move on to play Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. Experts across the nation are afraid to doubt the Eagles again and most predict a win for the Eagles but Eagles fans know better. The Packers are the #2 seed in the NFC and they’ve got one of the best records in the NFL over the past three years along with one of the best quarterbacks of this era. This isn’t an easy game for the Eagles to win.

Both teams slug it out all game. Despite good performances from the defenses, points are still going up on the board. With five minutes left, the Eagles are up by a field goal (24-21) and the Packers are getting the ball back. Aaron Rodgers slings the ball around. He completes multiple passes to Greg Jennings, JerMichael Finley, they pound the ball with James Starks and finally on a slant route, Randall Cobb nearly takes it the distance, nearly breaking Nate Allen’s ankle with a juke move that was inevitably shown on Sports Center’s top 10 plays. With the Packers knocking on the doorstep, the Eagles bring in the big boys but John Kuhn won’t be denied and he powers through for the touchdown.

With two minutes left, every single Eagles fan in existence is dreading yet another NFC Championship loss. The Eagles had the lead and they surrendered a touchdown in the closing minutes of the game. It would be another heart breaking loss for the Andy Reid era Eagles. And as the Eagles get the ball back, Joe Buck says in his monotonous voice “Down 28 to 24 with only one timeout, the Eagles are going to need to put together an impressive two minute drill and put a touchdown on the board”.

First Down: Clay Matthews sack
*Time Out*
Second Down: Michael Vick check down to Avant for 8 yards
Third Down: Vick pass over the middle to Celek for 10 yards

With little over a minute left the Eagles are still only at their own 43 yard line and the Eagles take a deep shot to DeSean Jackson that falls just over his outstretched hands. Fifty seconds. A bullet to Jeremy Maclin on a deep curl route that puts the Eagles at midfield. Forty seconds. Michael Vick scrambles for 9 yards, just short of the first down marker. 30 seconds. The Eagles hand the ball off to LeSean McCoy who stretches the play wide, cuts back upfield inside of Charles Woodson, jukes Morgan Burnett and suddenly it’s a footrace with Tramon Williams to the end-zone. With McCoy running full steam ahead, Williams has the angle and he appears to be in prime position to make the stop  but then suddenly McCoy stops on a dime and Williams goes flying across his face, only able to get a finger tip on McCoy and  McCoy stumbles into the end-zone. Eagles win.

The Eagles meet the Houston Texans in the Superbowl. And I’m sure you already knows how this ends. The Eagles win their first superbowl.