Here's a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles:
I'll admit I have not paged through the entire issue of ESPN The Magazine that focused on Michael Vick, but I did enjoy this piece by Seth Wickersham, which provides details on what prison life was like for the Eagles' quarterback:
Night after night, cockroaches roam the floors. Guys shuffle around a lot. Vick witnesses certain things -- "things that should stay in prison," he will later say, refusing to comment further -- that disturb him too much to sleep. At first, he tries earplugs. Then he applies for a midnight-shift job, mopping floors for 12 cents an hour.
On a typical day, he mops in the predawn morning, then watches TV until sunrise and sleeps. He wakes around noon. Uncertain about what else to do, he joins games of chess; a lot of the guys here play. Before Leavenworth, Vick had never tried the game, but in no time he's able to beat every inmate -- except a guy named Huey. Vick never learns anything more about Huey than his name.
At one point, a guard advises Vick to "stay away from everyone and don't make friends." Vick is a target, and there are fights many days. He notices guys studying him, 27 years old, hair unbraided, goatee fuzzy. So Vick remains wary of the others, which is easy enough. Even on the outside he was a closed man, leading a closed life.
Moving on, NFL Network's Michael Lombardi published his annual blue chip/red chip column recently. Blue-chippers rank among the top five at their position. Red-chippers rank among the top 10. Lombardi had the following Eagles listed as blue-chippers: Trent Cole, Nnamdi Asomugha and Andy Reid.
The red-chippers are: Asante Samuel, Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and Jason Peters. Note that Lombardi included 15 receivers on his list. LeSean McCoy was not listed in either group. And Lombardi explained why Vick is a red-chipper, and not a blue-chipper:
Michael Vick is not a blue-chip player yet. He needs to play an entire season the way he played last year, then he might be able to unseat someone. However, even if he does play that well consistently, I'm not sure he is better than the six players ranked higher than him.
The quarterbacks listed ahead of Vick are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers and Ben Roethlisberger.
Getting back to McCoy, the players listed ahead of him are: Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Ray Rice, Michael Turner, Arian Foster, Rashard Mendenhall, Jamaal Charles, Maurice Jones-Drew and DeAngelo Williams. Lombardi also says Frank Gore is his biggest omission.
And finally, the other four coaches joining Reid are Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton and Rex Ryan.
Meanwhile, Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com takes a look at preseason MVP odds. Vick is listed at 17/2, behind Rogers (11/2), Brady (13/2) and Manning (15/2). Barnwell argues that Vick presents the best value of the group:
Although Vick isn't the best bet available, all he needs to do is stay healthy on a team that should be the best in the NFC. The respective odds on Vick and Rodgers suggest that Rodgers is nearly 50 percent more likely to win the MVP than Vick. Their chances are far closer to even. Get your friends to lay you Vick at those odds versus Rodgers and laugh all the way to the bank.
He also argues for McCoy and Kevin Kolb as longshots. Here's the case for McCoy:
McCoy has been healthy so far as a pro, and the Eagles seem like a pretty sure thing to win nine games or more. The combination of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson should keep safeties a good 20 yards downfield. In fact, Vick's an incredible boon to McCoy's productivity, as Shady averaged 5.9 yards per carry with Vick in the lineup and 3.8 yards a pop otherwise last season. The Eagles won't give him the 350 carries he needs to hit 2,000 yards, but as the primary back in the league's most explosive offense, 20 total touchdowns wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility. If none of the quarterbacks stand out, thereby splitting the obligatory QB vote, and McCoy becomes a touchdown machine on a 12-4 team, he could take home the trophy.
Note: I lost power as I was working, so consider this the first half of What they're saying about the Eagles. I'll get to more links in the next installment.