Phil Sheridan: Will 'dynasty' remark haunt the QB, or is the pressure already at maximum?

A larger-than-life cutout of Michael Vick is carried onto the field at Lehigh University by Eagles interns Sean Gale (left) and Kyle Heckelman.
A larger-than-life cutout of Michael Vick is carried onto the field at Lehigh University by Eagles interns Sean Gale (left) and Kyle Heckelman. (MATT SMITH / Associated Press)
Posted: July 23, 2012

It is a natural comparison.

This time last year, as the Eagles assembled for training camp at Lehigh, newly signed Vince Young was asked about the team's end-of-the-lockout spending spree. Young, who didn't know Broad Street from Pattison Avenue at that point, uttered the two words that would hang over the Eagles' dreadful 2011 season.

"Dream Team."

Last week, Michael Vick dropped another "D" word in an interview with CSN's Derrick Gunn. The Eagles, he said, could be developing a "dynasty" just like the Packers and 49ers he grew up watching. For a team that hasn't won a championship since 1960, coming from a quarterback who hasn't won a playoff game since 2004, that comment immediately caused a stir.

Will "Dynasty" become this year's "Dream Team?" Did Vick make the same mistake as Young?

Frankly, that's up to Vick.

The better comparison might be Jimmy Rollins' famous boast that the Phillies were the "team to beat" in the National League East before the 2007 season. At the moment those words left Rollins' lips, it had been 14 years since the Phillies had won a division title.

There is a reason "team to beat" didn't hang around Rollins' neck the way "Dream Team" weighed on Young or, going back a few years, "Gold Standard" became permanently attached to Eagles owner Jeff Lurie. The reason is simple. Rollins won the National League MVP award in 2007, leading the Phillies to the division title. They went on to win that title again in 2008 and in 2009 and in 2010 and in 2011.

The difference between oracle and idiot isn't in the words, it's in the ability to back them up.

(And don't even bother with the fairness argument. Young didn't mean to brand his new team. Lurie was trying to make a larger point about the way the Eagles operate, not just their win-loss record. Rollins added the words "only on paper" to "team to beat," but nobody remembered that part. We live in a sound-bite culture. Vick said "dynasty," and that is what will stick if the Eagles disappoint again this year.)

Vick, like Rollins, also has real control over whether his words turn out to be prophetic or pathetic. Young was penciled in as the backup QB and hadn't gotten past the introductory chapter of Andy Reid's playbook when he spoke.

The one valid criticism of Vick's comment is that the timing puts added pressure on an Eagles team that failed to handle such pressure last season. And that would probably be true, if it were possible. The reality is, the team that begins assembling Sunday at Lehigh already faces as much or more pressure as any team in the NFL.

Let's review:

The head coach was given another season to prove 2011 was a fluke and not another step along a downward path. It has been eight long years since Reid took the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Tom Coughlin's Giants have won two in the interim.

The big-money free agent from 2011, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, is coming off a profoundly underwhelming debut season in Philadelphia. He not only needs to prove he's worth the contract the Eagles gave him, he has to prove he's worthy of their decision to dump Asante Samuel, their best defensive back of the last few years.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, sulked his way through a miserable 2011. The low point was getting himself suspended for a home game against Arizona, which the Eagles managed to lose. Now Jackson has the long-term contract he wanted. With it comes considerable pressure to prove he's still the game-breaker who earned that deal, not the team-wrecker who whined about not getting it.

The defensive coordinator has nothing less than his professional reputation on the line. A year after his controversial promotion from offensive line coach blew up in Reid's face, Juan Castillo has had a full offseason to craft a sound scheme. He knows who his players will be and they know their roles. There are no excuses for the fourth-quarter follies of 2011.

And then there is Vick himself. Over a six-game span in 2010, he played his position so spectacularly, he made Kevin Kolb expendable and convinced the Eagles to sign him to an enormous contract. Over the last two games of 2010 and most of 2011, he reverted to the undisciplined, mistake-prone freelancer he had been earlier in his career.

Vick has to be the guy from 2010 for the Eagles to contend in 2012. And the Eagles have to contend in 2012 for there to be any shot at becoming a "dynasty" with Reid and Vick in their current jobs.

The pressure was on before Vick dropped the "D" word. It was always going to be up to him to handle it with actions, not words.

Contact Phil Sheridan

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