The Eagles were bashed by the local media, and Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid specifically received scorn for a lack of leadership and inability to perform under pressure. Yet, through it all, each new season provided a new opportunity for hope. Even during the Eagles' steak of three consecutive NFC Championship games losses combined with a Super Bowl meltdown, Eagles fans consistently began each season thinking, "This is the year."
Last year, the Eagles made the playoffs as a Wild Card team for the first time since 2000 and were handed one of the worst losses in franchise postseason history, a 34-14 blowout, at the hands of arch-rivals Dallas Cowboys.
As a result, the Eagles seemed to take on a new identity. They got rid of McNabb and handed the ball to their 2007 2nd round draft pick, Kevin Kolb. They seemed to be in re-building mode coming into this season and postseason expectations were low. Most people predicted the Eagles to win under ten games this year and miss the playoffs.
Most people, however, failed to take into account the play of Michael Vick.
When Clay Matthews drove Kevin Kolb's head hard into the ground in week one against the Packers, it may have been the best thing to ever happen to the Eagles. Vick took over at quarterback, and after a brief three week stint in which he was sidelined with a ribs injury, he has lead the Eagles to a 3-0 record in which he has passed for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with the best passer rating in the NFL (105.3).
It is clear that Vick is playing the best quarterback of his career. He has combined his always threatening ground game with an unprecedented sharpness in his passes. He has developed an impressive resume with Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in just three games started and has not thrown an interception all season.
With such a formidable assortment of weapons being led by one of the most talented players in the history of the game; it leads me to wonder...why not this year?
The Eagles are 5-3 and are in second place in the NFC East. They have already overcome the more difficult half of their schedule and their destiny is in their own hands as five of their final eight games are against NFC East opponents.
They have the most dynamic offense in the league and their defense demonstrated in the week nine win against the Colts that they can play with anyone.
It is clear that fate has played a large role in the Eagles' success. Seemingly, the Eagles were never meant to win a Super Bowl under Donovan McNabb. Maybe their destiny was to bring in a man who dealt with problems in his past and was looking for someone to reach out to for a second chance.
The Eagles have given Vick that chance, and the fact that the stakes are so high for him, and are at the level always applied by Eagles' fans, might just mean that he was meant to come here and find his redemption, and in doing so, redeem an entire city's brutal past.