Examining who faces the most challenging season for the Philadelphia Eagles and why.
Some of these are easier to pick than others. This one, for example. The person under the most pressure to deliver big-time results for the Eagles in 2012 is clearly, without question, quarterback Michael Vick. The Eagles have put every conceivable piece in place around him. They kept wide receiver DeSean Jackson, giving him the long-term deal he wanted after he sulked through a disappointing 2011 campaign. They just locked up running back LeSean McCoy, who scored 20 touchdowns last season and showed he can alleviate any pressure Vick might once have felt to score on his own at the goal line. They beefed up on defense. They tried to keep the offensive line together, and when an injury to Jason Peters kept them from doing that, they went right out and signed the best left tackle still left on the market.
The Eagles watched what Vick did in 2010 and believed they had something special -- a quarterback of such unique talent that, if all else were equal, he could elevate them above the rest of the league and to Super Bowl glory. But the Vick of 2011 let them down. He was too turnover-prone during the team's slow start, helping cost the Eagles very close games in September and October. He got injured and missed three games late, denying the Eagles a chance to climb back into a winnable division race. He played fine and put up nice numbers when he was healthy, but he didn't do anything to make the Eagles extra-great, and too many times he did things that hurt the cause.
The Eagles have high hopes for 2012, and reason to believe they've addressed trouble spots on a leaky defense. They have star-caliber players at key spots on the roster -- running back, receiver, defensive end, cornerback. They believe they have the pieces in place to be one of the best teams in the league. But they need their quarterback to make it all go, and for that reason Vick faces more pressure this season than does any quarterback in the entire league.