Andy Reid doesn't like the Dream Team label, but the roster says otherwise.
By RALPH VACCHIANO
The Philadelphia Eagles made a big free-agency splash over the last two weeks. All that was missing from the first few days of the NFLâs wildest free-agent frenzy was Andy Reid sitting in a television studio, being interviewed by Jim Gray. They couldâve called it âThe Decisionsâ because the Eagles made a lot of them.
Every one of them grabbed a headline. Every one of them seemed to bring in another star.
They dominated the market. They surprised everyone by landing cornerback Nnamdi Asomgugha, arguably the top free agent available, even though they already had Asante Samuel and would trade for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They landed defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, backup quarterback Vince Young, offensive tackle Ryan Harris and running back Ronnie Brown.
No wonder Young had a simple, two-word description for the totally loaded Eagles.
âDream Team.,â he said with a very wide smile.
âFrom Nnamdi to Cromartie, to Jason to myself, I know they are going to do some more things (too),â he said before the Eagles did do some more. âItâs just beautiful to see where weâre trying to go.â
âI feel like we are the Miami Heat of the NFL,â Babin added. âExcept we win the final game.â
Itâs been a long, long time since and NFL team got so cocky, so quickly. The Eagles were a good team last year â NFC East champs â and were led by a player (Michael Vick) who couldâve easily been the NFLâs MVP last season. Sensing an opportunity for a real run at what would be their first-ever Super Bowl championship, the Eagles shoved all their chips to the middle of their table and went after every top player they could get to come along for their ride.
The fact that less than a week into training camp theyâre so open about it is â¦ well, itâs shocking in an organization that, taking a cue from its quiet coach, is usually more about doing it on the field than doing it with their mouths. Even Eagles president Joe Banner admitted that âDream Teamâ is a âa scary term.â
Of course, he didnât back off the term at all.
âSomebody wrote the words âThe Eagles are all in,â and thatâs how we look at it,â Banner said. âWeâre doing anything and everything we can, weâre being aggressive about it, and the expectations are high.â
The target is high, too, right on the Eaglesâ back. Rob Ryan, the new Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, has already dubbed Philly âthe all-hype teamâ and promised to âkick their assesâ the first time the Eagles and Cowboys meet. Up in New Jersey, when Giants receiver Mario Manningham was told the Eagles are a âDream Teamâ he said âSo were the Patriotsâ before the Giants knocked them off in Super Bowl XLII.
âI know one dream team and that was with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley,â said Packers cornerback Charles Woodson. âThis is the National Football League and there's going to be a lot of people who have something to say about that.â
Not surprisingly, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie has already tried to walk back the âDream Teamâ nonsense and to scale back what are already unreasonably high expectations. He said âI laugh when people say, 'Are you the favorite?' Let's cut to reality.â He then went through a list of other âloadedâ teams in the NFC.
And he may be right. The Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints, and especially the defending champion Green Bay Packers may all still have something to say about who the favorite really is before long. The Dallas Cowboys, with Tony Romo back and healthy, arenât ready to concede the NFC East. Even the Giants, despite losing far too many of their own players thanks to a salary cap mess.
The ârealityâ doesnât matter, though, because the Eagles put themselves up on the podium and now thereâs no way for anyone to take them down â although everyone in the NFL is itching to try.
âWe're about as far from being a âDream Teamâ as you can be,â Lurie said, presumably with a straight face. âWe're playing catch-up.â
If he thinks anyone believes that he believes that, then he really is dreaming.