The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles were once referred to as the "Dream Team". They made a free agent splash by signing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha last season and had the talent to be a power house team.
Unfortunately for them that's not what happened. In fact, the complete opposite happened.
This was a team with Michael Vick at quarterback, Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel in the defensive backfield, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin as wide receivers and LeSean McCoy at running back
So what happened in 2011? Vick battled injuries, his turnover numbers were up and the defense was mediocre. Because of this they started the season 4-8. Even winning their final four games wasn't enough to save their season.
What did they do this offseason to try and improve their game? Take a look:
Gains: S O.J. Atogwe, OT Demetrius Bell, DT Fletcher Cox, DE Vinny Curry, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB DeMeco Ryans
Losses: C Jamaal Jackson, OT Winston Justice, DT Trevor Laws, CB Asante Samuel, WR Steve Smith, QB Vince Young
One thing noticed last season was the weaknesses of the defense. The Eagles had some of the NFL's top players in the defensive backfield, but nothing seemed to be clicking and they played very poorly. In the final four games of the season there was a noticeable change. They became more aggressive and were making more stops to help win the final four games against the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins. If the defense picks up where it left off, they could pose a big threat.
What still needs some serious improvement is the offense. Vick may have battled injuries in 2011, but those are not the only questions he faces when returning in 2011. He threw interceptions almost every game in played in, including four against the Buffalo Bills. He threw seven interceptions in that four-game losing streak. He also fumbled the football 10 times. Vick didn't play nearly as well as he did in 2010.
It's a simple fix for Vick, however. He's still a very good quarterback. He has the talent to work with, with Jackson, Maclin and McCoy. If he keeps the interceptions down, stays healthy, and uses his weapons more, we could see a 2010-like version of Vick.
As far as the offensive line goes, they are still pretty solid, but there are question marks at the left tackle position. Jason Peters, who allowed only three sacks in 2011, tore his achilles in March and then hurt it again a few weeks later. The Eagles look like they'll be turning to Bell to replace Peters. Bell, entering his fourth season, played in seven games for Buffalo last season. He started all 16 games for the Bills in 2010. Bell will be tested against NFC East defensive ends like New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul. If he finds a way to hold his own, then the offensive line should still be solid.
Where the Eagles lack some depth is at safety. They signed Atogwe during the offseason. Jaiquawn Jarrett didn't live up to his expectations in a starting or backup role and Kurt Coleman has never impressed. The Eagles will likely try Jarrett again at the safety position, but will turn to Atogwe if he continues to go in the opposite direction. Any of the three, though, could win the starting spot out of training camp.
There will be a lot of attention on this team after their flop in 2011. There will be a focus on Vick as this will almost be a do or die situation for him. The Eagles paid him big bucks in 2011 that he didn't play up to. The team needs to stay focused and worry about the postseason when the time comes. Take one game at a time, stay healthy, stay consistent, and they will be a big contender. They may have had the biggest flop last season, but that doesn't mean they don't have one of the biggest chances.