Eagles are in Super Bowl or bust mode

From the owner down to the interns, everyone associated with the

Philadelphia Eagles has the same lofty expectation for this

season.

”The only goal is to win the Super Bowl,” team chairman

Jeffrey Lurie said.

Anything less than hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy in

February won’t be considered a success. Not for a team that’s made

nine playoff appearances, won six division titles and played in

five NFC championship games in the past 12 years.

Led by Michael Vick, the NFL Comeback Player of 2010, the Eagles

have a dynamic offense. They’ve also got a revamped defense that

features a star-studded secondary.

”We definitely have something special,” Vick said.

The defending NFC East champions already were championship

contenders before they went on a wild spending spree in free

agency.

The Eagles acquired several big-name players, including six guys

who’ve been to Pro Bowls. Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique

Rodgers-Cromartie (via trade), defensive end Jason Babin,

quarterback Vince Young, running back Ronnie Brown, wide receiver

Steve Smith and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins are among the

newcomers with impressive resumes.

It was the biggest offseason splash the Eagles made since adding

Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse in 2004. They went to the Super Bowl

that year, losing 24-21 to New England.

”Whatever it takes to try to get there, that’s what we’re going

to do,” team president Joe Banner said. ”I want the players to

feel like that’s the goal. If we fall short of that, then we didn’t

hit the goal. It’s really that simple. I’m glad that the mindset is

that we have a real shot to do that, and that’s the goal. That’s

what we’re shooting for. The expectations are high internally as

well as externally, and I think that’s a good place to be.”

High expectations are nothing new around here. Since coach Andy

Reid turned the franchise around upon his arrival in 1999, the

Eagles have consistently been among the best teams in the NFL.

They’ve had eight double-digit win seasons in Reid’s 12 years.

All that’s missing is that elusive Super Bowl title.

”We always have high expectations every year and that’s why we

come into this,” Reid said. ”And this is no different that way.

We’re coming in and we expect to win football games and that’s how

we go about it. There are people that will ask what do you think

your record’s going to be. You’re coming in thinking that you’re

going to win and that’s how you go about your business. So with

that, the expectation is always high.”

It was an unusual training camp not just because of all the new

players. The Eagles dealt with non-football related illnesses to

wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and defensive tackle Mike Patterson,

who had a seizure during practice. Both players are healthy and

have been cleared to play.

The Eagles have been knocked out of the playoffs in the first

round two straight years after reaching the conference championship

game in 2008.

”We don’t need any internal motivation. We’re obsessed,” Lurie

said.

Vick, coming off the best all-around season of his career, is

surrounded by a talented group of skill players, including two-time

Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Running back LeSean McCoy,

Maclin, tight end Brent Celek, Brown and Smith give Vick plenty of

weapons.

Vick is the key, however. He came a long way last year,

transforming himself from an exceptional athlete who happened to

play quarterback into one of the top passers in the league. Vick

still used his extraordinary scrambling ability when needed, but he

proved he can sit back in the pocket and throw efficiently.

”Michael made a huge jump last year, and I’m referring to

playing the quarterback position,” offensive coordinator Marty

Mornhinweg said. ”He’s always been one of the great dynamic

players in the game, but he made a big jump last year.”

The high-powered offense may not have to carry the load if the

new-look defense plays to its potential. The defense underwent

major changes, starting from the top. Defensive coordinator Sean

McDermott was fired after two seasons and replaced by Juan

Castillo, the longtime offensive line coach.

Castillo’s promotion was a stunning move considering he coached

on the other side of the ball for so long. But Castillo played

linebacker in college and had experience coaching the defense in

high school and college.

Other defensive assistants also were let go, and seven players

who started at least one game are gone.

”Obviously we’re talented,” Asomugha said. ”It’s laid out all

over the place and everyone sees it, and the coaching is great here

as well. So, we could be really special. I think we have a great

opportunity to do some big things this year. But with those

expectations, you have to put in a little more focus, so it may not

be as easy as other people are expecting it to be. We still have a

lot of work to do.”

It’s a long road to the big game in Indianapolis, and the Eagles

are desperate to get there.