The Philadephia Eagles are defending champions, but they didn’t rest on their laurels during the offseason.
Instead, the team acquired quality veterans Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata, both of whom offer tremendous defensive depth. Alongside the Minnesota Vikings, Philly may have the best overall roster from one-to-53 in the NFL. The team probably has the best combination of trenches in the league.
The team is expected to get Carson Wentz back soon sometime this season. Wentz is a noticeable upgrade over Nick Foles, who filled in quite well for the injured Wentz at the end of the season. As such, fans’ expectations are sky-high.
However, the team will not be able to succeed in their quest for a repeat, and here is why:
Super Bowl Hangover and Distractions
The myth of the “Super Bowl Hangover” has been around for years.
Former coach and Pro-Bowl player Bryan Cox went on Fox Sports 1’s Speak for Yourself to explain this phenomenon:
“But here’s the issue, when you win a Super Bowl, there is such a thing as the hangover. The book tours that he (Nick Foles) and Doug Pederson have been on. I’ve been on a Super Bowl team. When you come back, somehow, you feel like you’re the reason why your team won the Super Bowl, you don’t work as much, you don’t play as a team, so it takes you five or six weeks (regular season) to get back under it.”
“Super Bowl Hangovers” can even affect losing teams. Just look at the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Dodgers both showcase this fact.
For a franchise that has never won a championship, the Eagles may simply be riding a long-lasting high.
The team’s lineup has resulted in a very outspoken locker room, which in turn has led to arrogance as well as a loss of hunger and drive. The Seattle Seahawks have demonstrated that an outspoken and political locker room is often amplified after a championship win.
Players, such as Lane Johnson, are talking more than they did last season.
Head coach Doug Pederson, after just two seasons and one title, even wrote a book, which is a bit premature.
The Eagles have even put up a Super Bowl poster in their locker room, which team captain Malcolm Jenkins did not appreciate. Jenkins apparently wanted the poster to be taken down, as he told Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic:
“I hate it, personally… My focus is all on adding another ‘I’ to the end of that … I’m well beyond celebrating last year’s accomplishments because they don’t mean anything this year. They don’t get us anything. I said it earlier this offseason: It’s not boxing where we get to hold the belt and somebody has to come beat us and take it. We don’t have anything. We’re at the bottom just like everybody else.”
The NFC is LOADED
Has either of the conferences ever been this loaded? There will not be any easy wins from all 16 teams. Out of the ten teams that may be legitimate Super Bowl Contenders, at least seven reside in the NFC: the Philadelphia Eagles, the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Rams, the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Carolina Panthers. However, the depth of the conference continues. Other teams may still be playoff-caliber, such as the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Arizona Cardinals.
The Eagle’s biggest competitors have improved during the offseason. The Vikings have improved their quarterback position, and the team is extremely hungry. The Falcons’ offense should bounce back, and the team’s defense made huge strides at the end of the season. The Los Angeles Rams went all-in, and they now have the most star power of any team. The Packers got Aaron Rodgers back, and the Panthers may have as good a roster as the year they went 15-1. Even in their own division, the New York Giants are going to be a legitimate playoff threat.
If a team has a competent quarterback, said team’s offense will be competitive. Fifteen of the sixteen teams in the conference actually have an answer to their franchise quarterback, which is nearly unheard of. The field isn’t the same as it was last season. Almost every team will be evenly matched. If a team slips up or has a slow start, they could be hurt tremendously. The Eagles are in danger of a slow start due to…
The Quarterback Situation
Nick Foles is the team’s Week One starter. After what happened during both the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl, many would expect the Eagles to be fine. However, before the aforementioned two games, Foles wasn’t great in his other starts. He has performed terribly during the preseason, as well.
Foles’ play reflects his confidence level. When his confidence level is low, his performance isn’t great. Just two years ago, Foles almost quit the NFL. Now, he will need to hold down the fort until Carson Wentz comes back. However, this situation could become concerning if Wentz remains out for over a month. The team can live with Foles for the first four games, but the schedule will become brutal after that.
The Eagles cannot afford to start off slow, because they will fall behind in their strong suit: the race for home-field.
NFL is the Toughest League to Repeat in
To make matters worse, the NFL is the toughest sport out of the four major American sports’ leagues to repeat as a champion. Only eight teams have been back-to-back winners in the 52-year history of Super Bowl.
The NFL has the most parity of any league. One bad weekend could end a team’s season.
Featured Image via Google Images/Wikipedia