What they're saying about the Eagles

What kind of year will Michael Vick have in 2011? (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

Here's a roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles, including several predictions for the season:

Matt Gagne of SI.com has the Eagles going 11-5:

The Eagles are built to withstand the grind of the regular season and win the division. But with so many new players on defense -- and with a new defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, who was Philly's offensive line coach for the past 13 seasons -- it's imperative that they not just be on the same page, but also on the same line, same word, and same letter going into the postseason. If not, opponents will exploit a mismatch and the big-name team could stumble in a big game.

Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News has the Eagles beating the Ravens in the Super Bowl:

So I’m picking Philadelphia vs. Baltimore, with a clear-cut prospective champion. Vick is better than Flacco, Reid is better than Baltimore coach John Harbaugh (Reid’s former assistant), and the Eagles’ defensive improvements make them my pick to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl. I’ve eliminated everybody else. The Eagles are the last team standing.

SI.com's Peter King has the Eagles going 10-6, before falling to the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. He's 'got the Falcons beating the Chargers in the Super Bowl.

Five of seven NFL.com experts have the Eagles winning the NFC East, but none of them think the Birds will get to the Super Bowl.

John Clayton of ESPN.com has Michael Vick eighth in his quarterback rankings:

Vick is once again a superstar, as he was in Atlanta, but now he's doing it in a passing offense. He averages about 30 points a game when he plays. His only concern is staying healthy because he sacrifices his body for the good of the team.

Gary Myers of the New York Daily News predicts an Eagles-Jets Super Bowl:

The Jets play in Philadelphia on Dec. 18 and then, as I said back in February, will play again on Feb. 5. Even though I picked the Eagles and Jets nearly seven months ago, before the lockout started and ended, and way before Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie and his staff did the best job of salary-cap maneuvering of all time, I'm certainly not going to change now.

Michael Lombardi of NFL.com has the NFC East ranked as the second-best division behind the NFC North:

It might not be as good as the mid-80s, but this division is filled with quality teams, quality coaches (three of the four have been to the Super Bowl) and quality quarterbacks. Even though the Cowboys no longer play on the field with the hole in the roof, or the Skins in RFK, or the Eagles at the Vet, or the G-men at the windy Meadowlands, all are still tough places with changing weather and loud fans. I expect the Redskins to be much better this season, giving this division four quality teams. Each game played between each team is a must-watch.

Four of five ESPN.com writers predict the Eagles will win the division. Adam Schefter is the only one who has them second in the NFC East. Their preview has some numbers on how the Eagles struggled when they didn't blitz last year:

The Eagles' defense struggled sending four or fewer pass-rushers a year ago, allowing 7.9 yards per pass attempt (30th in NFL) and a 91.6 passer rating (27th). While Philadelphia made major renovations to the secondary, it also added defensive end Jason Babin to improve on its 5.5 sack percentage of dropbacks (eighth).

Eleven of 12 ESPN experts think the Eagles will win the division, but none of them pick the Birds to win the Super Bowl. And just two of 12 have the Eagles getting there. Andy Reid gets a vote for Coach of the Year, and Vick gets a vote for MVP.

Matt Bowen of the National Football Post writes about the Eagles potentially using Nnamdi Asomugha in a Charles Woodson-type role:

But the key here is what Woodson can do playing over a Graham, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, etc. That’s the matchup answer you want as a defensive coordinator.

Philly can get that with Asomugha. Size, length, top end speed and the ability to use his hands at the line of scrimmage. Get a TE removed from the core of the formation and Asomugha can play press. Move him inside and he can win on 3rd down situations.

Ashley Fox of ESPN.com says the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC:

Let's get this straight: The Philadelphia Eagles are not a dream team -- not even close. Vince Young made an ill-advised comment when he called his new employer a dream team, and he's lucky the Eagles did not release him on the spot. The only thing worse would have been calling the Eagles the gold standard of the NFL. Jeffrey Lurie still regrets saying that.

But for the first time since Terrell Owens was in town (and happy), Philadelphia should be the team to beat in the NFC. The Eagles have the most dynamic player in the game, Michael Vick, who is a threat to score with his left arm or his legs every time he touches the ball. He is their star, a self-assured leader who has worked to become more than just a scrambling quarterback. While he still likes to run and is a nightmare to defend in the red zone, Vick also is something else: accurate.

Jason La Canfora of NFL Network thinks Vick can repeat his success from a year ago:

I believe in his ability to post another season with a quarterback rating around 100. I believe in his improved practice habits and film review and decision making. I believe, most of all, in Andy Reid's ability to identify a quarterback, and if he is fully sold on Vick to the point of franchising him and, ultimately, giving him a long-term contract, then I am on board.

Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports predicts Vick will come through in the postseason this year:

I think the Eagles will fight through all sorts of potential obstacles – the temptation to buy into their own hype; the potential for collapsing under the weight of expectations, a la the 2010 Dallas Cowboys; the adjustment to a new defensive scheme; the recent upheaval on the offensive line.

Building upon the glimpses of greatness that they gave us last season, as in last December’s incredible road comeback victory over the New York Giants, the Eagles will position themselves for another postseason run. This time, needing a clutch play to beat a championship-caliber rival, Vick will calmly assess his options and make the right decision.

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