At the end of the day, only one stat will define the class of 2011. The mediocrity of an 8-8 season (assuming we win our final game) following so much off-season hype. Following two successive play-off appearances it all seemed very simple, add some top tier talent at positions of need to push the team to the next level (much like adding Kearse and TO in 2004). We did not see a dream team, but more of a nightmare. Although sometimes stats can be misleading, they do not lie. So it is time to delve into what we saw this year against what we expected to see:
2004: 13-3 (rested starters for final two losses)
As stated previously 8-8 is mediocre and inadequate for such a talented roster.
2004: 7-1 (loss whilst resting starters in season finale)
The 3-5 home record is outstandingly poor. First and foremost a teams home stadium must become a fortress, the 12th man. A good home record gives a platform to launch a playoff push from. In 2004 the Eagles went 7-1 at home, with the Giants, Redskins & Cowboys going 6-10, this meant the Eagles had secured the NFC East title purely on home victories. If the class of 2011 had gone 4-4 at home they would be NFC East champions with a win against the Redskins.
2004: 6-2 (one loss whilst resting starters)
Basically the long and short of it is that the class of 2011 got the job done on the road.
As with 2004 the Eagles went near perfect in the NFC, sweeping both the Cowboys and Redskins. A good divisional record is crucial not only due to tie-breaking procedures, but also down to the fact you can guarantee to add losses to your divisional rivals whilst adding to your own leading to divisional wins also carrying an effective 2 game swing.
2004: 5-1 (one loss whilst resting starters)
The vintage of 2004 did not only beat there conference opponents, they slaughtered them scoring an average of 18 points more during there 5 victories including a 47-17 win against Green Bay. The also never won by less than 10 points. The solitary loss came whilst resting all starters ironically against the Rams, the only conference victory of 2011. Excluding the 17 point humiliation against the Seahawks, the Eagles lost by an average of 5.5 points in the 4 remaining losses. The inability to win these close games doomed the Eagles this year.
Record Against AFC opposition:
2004: 2-2 (one loss whilst resting starters)
The only beat down given to the 2004 team was a 27-3 hammering against the Steelers. Which we can draw parallels to the Patriots 38-20 loss. The other 2004 loss was a game resting starters in week 17. The other 2011 loss was an appalling game against the Bills which if anything was a microcosm of the Eagles 2011 campaign.
2004: September 3-0 October 4-0 November 3-1 December 3-1 January 0-1
2011: September 1-2 October 2-2 November 1-3 December 3-1 January 1-0
The 2004 Eagles team stormed out to a 7-0 record to start the season, and after slumping against the Steelers went 6-0 until a TO broken ankle led to starters being rested. Although the real impressive fact is maintaining a winning record through every month. Consistently producing a winning record for each month will result in a trip to the playoffs. This is seen in 2011 where the first winning record for a month came off the back of a 4-7 record. Consistently losing more games than winning eliminates any playoff hopes very swiftly.
In conclusion, it is clear to see that the combination of a poor home record, a poor conference record & the team taking to long to develop a winning habit have doomed the team to an early post-season rather than a crack at winning the Holy Grail of Football, the Vince Lombardi Trophy.