The Eagles are 7-1. They have a tight end leading his position across the board, a franchise quarterback leading the NFL in passing touchdowns through 8 weeks, and a rushing attack that has amassed 100+ rushing yards in seven consecutive games. Excitement and confidence surrounds the City for the first time in a long time, but inside the locker room it’s a different story.
The win over San Francisco was dominant. An offensive explosion was supported by a ferocious pass-rush and some special teams standouts. But it wasn’t pretty. It was anything but pretty. The Eagles struggled to find their flow at the start of the game and the Kyle Shanahan led Niners hung around for the majority of the first half. As the rain began to fall over Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles would once again be tested.
The team were 0-6 when opening up as 10 point favorites. That streak ended today. There was no complacency to be found in the locker room heading into the matchup against the winless Bay Area outfit, and there would be none found after the victory either.
“I thought the flow of the game for us offensively, we were slow.” Carson Wentz told reporters after the game. “We were slow early on. [The San Francisco 49ers] did some good things that limited what we did offensively early on and we just had to make some adjustments and stick to our game plan. Offensively, I know we have to be better. We have to be better. Starting off sluggish like that for two straight weeks – we have to get that cleaned up.”
Wentz has joined elite company this season, but you don’t hear it in his voice, you don’t see it in press conferences. But you feel it in the game. The NDSU product is now one of only three NFL QB’s 24-or-younger to have thrown 9+ TDs and no more than 5 INTs through 8 games since 1950. The other two? Matthew Stafford and Dan Marino. He also joins Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young and Fran Tarkenton as the only NFL QB’s with 19+ passing TD’s and 200 rushing yards through 8 games.
Hearing such iconic names and eyebrow raising stats, it’s hard not to get excited. But staying grounded is something that’s been embedded deep into the DNA of this team. The pressure after a loss, the hounding after a bad game, or the national love and attention after a 7-1 start, every week and every game is treated the same.
Even Fletcher Cox, who mauled his way to a huge sack late in the game, shares the same sentiment.
“I think it could be better.” Said Cox, who received a monster 6-year $102M extension just over one year ago. “Even I could be better at some parts. I started off kind of slow today and took a while to get going. After I really got going, after the whole group got going, it was kind of hard to stop us. Everybody played together and nobody at any point of the game panicked.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the 102 million dollar man, the franchise quarterback, or an undraftred running back out of Wisconsin who led the team in rushing, this is an Eagles team that is carrying a gigantic chip on its shoulder.
“…the mindset is just let’s get this work done.” Said DE Brandon Graham, who also earned a sack against rookie QB C.J Beathard. “Let’s figure out what they like to do a lot. Let’s stop it. Stop it in practice and then let’s stop it in the game. And it’s been working for us.”
On a short week, with the conditions against them, and the world waiting for them to fail…the Eagles came through again. Losing Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters were two huge blows to this team. But it didn’t stop them from once again rising to the occasion and dominating as they have nearly every single week this season.
“I think we weathered the storm. It’s not the way the offense wanted to play.” Lane Johnson explained. “We came out slow and didn’t execute. I’m just glad with the way we battled because not every game is going to be perfect or look good. But we found a way to win and that’s what teams do.”
This is no longer an Eagles team that will fall victim to trap games. This isn’t a team that takes wins lightly or that will cling onto losses. This is a grounded team. A hungry team. A locker room filled with leaders who are playing for one another and more importantly, for the vision bestowed upon them by Doug Pederson. The future is incredibly bright…just don’t tell them that.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports