Heading into the 2011 season, all you heard was that the Philadelphia Eagles were one of the top teams in the National Football League, thanks to an incredible offseason spending spree that brought in five former Pro Bowl players via free agency or a trade.
In fact, a lot of the talking came from the Eagles’ organization. President Joe Banner openly admitted that the Eagles were “all-in” and were trying to be catch the Green Bay Packers, the reigning Super Bowl champions. Oh, and backup quarterback Vince Young boldly called the Eagles a Dream Team. You may have heard about that proclamation.
And of course, we all remember how it turned out for the Eagles. Losses in four of their first five games, including three in a row by blown fourth quarter leads. A failure to reach the postseason, despite the NFC East division winner having just nine victories for the first time in league history. And a humiliating end to the season that featured the New York Giants and Eli Manning besting the powerful New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons.
So during the 2012 offseason, the Eagles took a different approach. A much different approach.
They played it cool and signed their OWN players to contract extensions: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Todd Herremans, Evan Mathis, and Trent Cole.
They drafted smart, grabbing a number of future NFL playmakers in Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Boykin, and they added a former Pro Bowl linebacker, DeMeco Ryans, in a trade with the Houston Texans.
In doing so, they stayed under the radar during the offseason.
The Giants are the team who just won the division. It’s impossible for them to fly under the radar this offseason.
The Dallas Cowboys are never under the radar, and there’s been a lot of talk about Tony Romo turning in his best season yet this year.
The Washington Redskins traded away three first round draft picks for Robert Griffin III, who is now their franchise quarterback. It’s pretty hard to stay under the radar that way.
So heading into the 2012 season, are the Eagles really under the radar? Will they be able to sneak up on other teams this year?
I say no. Absolutely no way.
Nobody is fooled by the Eagles heading into the 2012 season. They’re not even remotely under the radar this season.
Quarterback Michael Vick is playing for his job. If he doesn’t turn in a good season, maybe even a great season, the Eagles may not renew his contract for the 2013 season and beyond.
Head coach Andy Reid is coaching for his job. Reid’s contract is due to be renewed after the 2013 season and if he doesn’t lead the Eagles deep into the postseason this year, he’s as good as gone. At least, that’s what everybody says. We’ll see if that’s what actually happens.
The pressure on Vick and Reid makes it impossible for the Eagles to fly under the radar, or sneak up on anybody this season.
Teams know how important 2012 is for the Eagles. They know that Vick and Reid are playing for their jobs, and those are the two biggest faces of the franchise right now.
I fully expect the Eagles to rebound in 2012 from their brutal 2011 season. I think they’ll make the playoffs, probably by virtue of a division title, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see this team advance very deep into the postseason. I get chills just thinking about it.
But I am telling you that there is no way, no how, under any circumstances, that the Eagles are flying under anybody’s radar throughout the 2012 season.
The pressure is on, and everybody knows it.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.