After the most aggressive free agency in team history, there's a lot of hype surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles these days.
Terms like 'dream team' and 'Super Bowl favorites' have already been thrown out, just days after a lockout shut down the sport since March. Regardless of whether or not you believe the hype, Eagles President Joe Banner perhaps summed it up best.
"...somebody wrote the words 'the Eagles are all in,' - that's how we look at it," Banner said on Saturday at Lehigh University. "We're doing anything and everything we can. We're being aggressive about it and the expectations are high. I'm glad the players are excited as well about what they see being put together and their own optimism and excitement about seeing themselves surrounded by other high talent, and as importantly, people that really, really want to be here and really, really want to win. They're not afraid of a goal as high as we must win the Super Bowl to feel satisfied with the season."
Whether it's true or not, this attitude seems to be break the mold of how many perceived the Eagles since 2004 (when Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse were signed) - a team that just wants to compete year-in and year-out without making that move to put them over the top.
"There's a big focus relieving the stress and pain of having been so close so many times and not winning it all," Banner said. "We're very focused on getting that knot out of our stomachs."
The emergence of Michael Vick last year to go along with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy helped to give the Eagles all the offense they needed. There's no reason not to expect that to continue this year. And if Vick gets hurt again, former Titan Vince Young, a signing that may have gone overlooked, is ready to step in.
"It should be another exciting season for Eagles fans as we see what Michael Vick and Andy Reid can bring to the table given a full preseason preparing Vick as starter," said Josh Moore, who runs 4for4.com, one of the top fantasy football Web sites. "I'm excited to see what Andy Reid has up his sleeve is 2011, heading into the year with Vick the unquestioned starter.
"Of course the signing of Nnamdi Asomugha and the trading of Kolb to Arizona have grabbed most of the headlines the last week, but the signing of Vince Young to back up Vick is a solid move flying under the radar. In Vince Young you get a two-time Pro Bowler and proven commodity on a one-year trial basis."
While the offense appears in good shape, many felt what kept the Birds from going farther in the playoffs, including knocking off the eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in the first round, was holes on the defense. Philadelphia had the worst red zone defense in the league, and that would continue to haunt them against the Pack in the playoffs as all three Green Bay TDs came from inside the Eagles 20-yard line in the 21-16 win.
Banner and company have done everything they can to make sure that doesn't repeat itself this year, quickly addressing some of their biggest needs on the defensive side of the ball.
They signed defensive end Jason Babin, who had 12.5 sacks last year for Tennessee, to complement Trent Cole on the other side of the line. They followed that by trading backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona and received cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to be the number-two they so desperately needed alongside Asante Samuel. Then came the news no one expected, the prying the prized free agent of 2011, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, from the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys. What also shouldn't be lost is the singing of Cullen Jenkins, a pass rushing defensive tackle from Green Bay, which happened Sunday.
While there is a lot of hype already, there are still some question areas to keep an eye on if you go to camp at Lehigh this year. There is some uncertainly at safety and the linebackers are young, and for the most part, unproven. On offense, Monday's signing of first round pick, offensive lineman Danny Watkins, will help the offensive line but it still could be a question mark.