The Philadelphia Eagles' starters looked shaky Thursday night in a 24-14 loss to the Steelers. Even though it's only a preseason game, we immediately heard people ask, "What's wrong with the 'Dream Team'?" It's way too soon to ask that question, of course, but it raises others: Does any other team this season face higher expectations than the Eagles? And how will that pressure affect Philly's performance?
- Jason La Canfora NFL Network
There's pressure everywhere
The Eagles aren't alone in terms of pressure. If the Patriots or Steelers start poorly, you can bet it will be dissected and fretted over. And the Eagles, with a fan base starved for that first Super Bowl victory, are always under pressure.
This will ratchet it up, but those players and coaches and front office execs are immune to it now for the most part. It's part of the gig. And newcomers like Nnamdi Asomugha or Cullen Jenkins aren't going to be quaking in their cleats.
The Eagles are built to be in the hunt not just in 2011, but for years to come. Smart observers understand that. There is a reason all these players wanted to be there and that's not going to change overnight. Dealing with heavy expectations and pressure comes anywhere in the NFL and especially in a hotbed like Philly.
Sure, the panic and paranoia scale might be higher now, but it's not going to be much different than the norm. These guys can handle it. Whether or not they gel and form a Super Bowl team remains to be seen.
- Steve Wyche NFL.com
Packers, Jets, Pats feel it, too
Like the Miami Heat, the Eagles put themselves in the cross hairs when they went shopping on Rodeo Drive during free agency. There will be pressure on the Packers to repeat, since we're all saying they're getting so many injured players back and they might actually be better. If they don't get to the Super Bowl, they still have the fallback of history not being overly kind to repeat performances. The Jets and Patriots also have high expectations, but they've fallen short enough the past few seasons that, if they don't make it, the backlash of coming up short won't be overly emotional.
The Eagles, though? They've set themselves up -- and they know it. It will be interesting to see if players start to press if coaches overreact to a three- or four-game losing streak. I doubt it, since Andy Reid has been through just about everything and has handled it well. But the pressure would be tremendous. We'll also have to see how certain players handle success. One thing going unnoticed with a lot of these acquisitions is that, for the most part, all of the players have won in college and for much of their NFL careers. Nnamdi Asomugha is the exception. He has never been to the playoffs, but he's so mature and even-keeled, I wouldn't envision him buckling if things don't go well -- or getting intoxicated on glory if they do.
- Dave Dameshek NFL.com
Anything less than title is disappointment
Dream Team? Slow down, VY. The real Dream Team was built with legends, adding a cherry to the top of their already decorated careers by beating up on Third World countries' versions of the Washington Generals.
These Eagles are more accurately compared to the Heat. Or Yankees. Or Red Sox. Or any team that goes all in with their chips (a.k.a.: $) to win a title. Anything less than a championship is a disappointment. While Philly fans are understandably excited about the heaps of talent they'll see in the winged helmet this season, the players no doubt feel the pressure of being the team that's supposed to win. And unfortunately for them, there are no Washington Generals on their schedule.
- Michael Fabiano NFL.com
Dream could turn into nightmare quickly
I don't think any other team has higher expectations than the Eagles. With all of their offseason acquisitions and a high-profile (and, at one point, highly controversial) quarterback in Michael Vick, anything short of a Super Bowl will be considered a major disappointment. Of course, you can also say that about the Patriots and the Jets (has Rex Ryan guaranteed "another" Super Bowl appearance for this year?), but much of the media attention will be placed on the City of Brotherly Love this NFL season. Andy Reid better hope Vick stays healthy, though, or the Eagles could go from a dream into a major nightmare.
- Bucky Brooks NFL.com
Eagles need time to develop continuity
The Eagles are facing more scrutiny than any other team, but it is justified based on their remarkable free-agent haul. Everyone is curious to see how the pieces of the puzzle come together. Now, it is easy to overreact to their dismal performance against the Steelers, but teams often approach preseason games with a different agenda. This could be the case with the Eagles. It's possible they didn't game plan for the Steelers, making them susceptible to some of the plays that hurt them. Also, the abbreviated offseason schedule will make it difficult for Philadelphia to develop the requisite continuity and chemistry to play at a high level immediately. While the pressure from outsiders will creep into their minds, I still expect the Eagles to be a viable contender for the title this year.
- Albert Breer NFL Network
Close doesn't count for Philly
Expectations around the Eagles aren't any higher than they are in Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis, New Orleans or Green Bay. But the pressure is. The aforementioned five teams have each won Super Bowls in the past decade. And of teams that haven't won championships in the past 15 years, no one has been as close as many times as Philly, and had the same organizational structure in place for as long. That all plays into why the Eagles splurged (although not to the degree many make it out to be) on the veteran market, and it's why the heat is on Andy Reid and Co. to deliver.
- Elliot Harrison NFL.com
Packers, Jets, Cowboys face pressure
I think the Packers, Jets, and Cowboys face as much pressure as the Eagles. Green Bay, because it won the Super Bowl and has so many starters returning that were hurt last year. New York, because of the market they're in, the 10 tons of pressure their coach puts on them by making bold predictions to the world, and the fact they've come so close two years running. And Dallas, because they're the Cowboys, and with Tony Romo coming back from injury, there are no excuses.
Still, the point is valid concerning the Eagles, because of all the moves they made. The reality is, it might take awhile for that team to jell. So much rides on Michael Vick repeating his incredible 2010 performance, which, let's face it, isn't likely. No disrespect intended, it's just hard to put up those kind of numbers in back-to-back seasons.