After three straight losses in the NFL championship game, it’s now or never for the Eagles when it comes to making the Super Bowl. They added superstar receiver Terrell Owens and pass rushing specialist Jevon Kearse in the off-season, and everyone surrounding the Eagles knows now is the time.
The Eagles start the season as the favorite to win the NFC and reach the Super Bowl, but they know all the pressure is on them to deliver. "We have the capabilities, we have the athletes, we have the coaching to win the Super Bowl," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "All we have to do is go out and make it a reality." With McNabb and Owens, both former Pro Bowlers, the offense should be good. Depth is a bit of a concern as Brian Westbrook is really the only running back that can be trusted. “The sky is the limit for this team," McNabb said. "We can do a lot of good things."
Owens brings a lot of talent and a big mouth. According to early reports though, he has fit in with the Eagles quite well. He thinks that he can fit well with McNabb too. "We’re filling a void for each other," Owens said. "I think a lot of people have seen flashes of what we can do throughout the season. Obviously, it’s everybody’s goal here to get to the Super Bowl. Everybody keeps reflecting on the three losses in the championship game. We just have to take it one game at a time until we get to that point. I’m excited about the opportunities to get us over the hump. That’s why I’m here."
The focus for the Eagles will be on offense but it may be the defense that decides how far the Eagles are able to fly. Philadelphia has five new starters, but defensive coordinator Jim Johnson always does a great job getting everyone on the same page. Kearse will be counted on heavily to improve the pass rush and defensive backs Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown will be expected to replace the departed Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent. Former Pro Bowler Jeremiah Trotter returns on defense to play with middle linebacker Mark Simoneau. "Nothing has changed as far as our philosophy," Johnson said. "Aggressive football, physical football, put pressure on the offense. The rules might change as far as going over techniques. But we are still going to press corners. We are not going to bail out. We are still going to be jamming people in the line of scrimmage."
If the defense can deliver on Johnson’s promises and Owens can fulfill the expectations, then the Eagles could finally get over the hump. If not, then it will be very unpleasant for Philadelphia. Expectations are great when you live up to them, but they can crush you when you don’t.