8-1. The Philadelphia Eagles have won seven consecutive games en route to a season that has all the makings of something special. It’s scary to think that at this point just one year ago, the team were 5-4. Playoffs were still likely despite Dallas running away with the division…and then tragedy struck. The Eagles lost their next five games in heartbreaking fashion as ripples continued to appear in the locker room. It took a blowout loss to Cincinnati for Pederson to call out the effort of his players…but since then things have never really been the same.
“That was sort of a defining moment at that point.” Pederson explained to reporters on a hot Friday afternoon. “I guess we were as low as we were going to be as a team and organization coming out of that game. The guys responded well. We didn’t –messaging was the same. We practiced the same after that. Lot of pride, too. Lot of pride in the coaches. Lot of pride in the players and this organization to not — we needed to change it. We needed to fix it.”
That drive bled over into the coming months off the field. A phenomenal offseason saw the Birds surround their franchise quarterback with a flurry of offensive talent, while their defense took the next step into becoming a sustainable powerhouse. Since December 22nd 2016, the Eagles are 10-1…with their lone loss coming at the hands of Pederson’s creator. There’s more to this sensational run of form than just talent. It all starts with culture. For Pederson, that culture will be all too familiar to residents of the City of Brotherly Love. Trusting the process may mean acquiring assets to some, but for the Eagles, it’s all about an integrated work ethic.
“Look back at that, and I just kept reminding the team that you put in the hard work and the preparation, and you believe in each other, you believe in yourself, you trust the process, and that’s not cliché.” Pederson told reporters on Friday. “You have to trust what I’m talking about, what the coaches are talking about, and just stick together, and there’s no pointing fingers. That’s what they did: they hung together. We figured out a way at the end of the season to win those two games and finish on a high note, but just sticking together.”
The tough losing streak didn’t break the Eagles like their adverse streak under Chip Kelly did. Philadelphia fought until the very end of each and every game. A game-ending touchdown and 2-pt conversion took it down to the wire with Baltimore, but the Eagles fell just one point short in the end…but that was something they were used to at that stage. With six losses ending in one-possession situations, the team simply struggled to close out games. But as opposed to letting it defeat them, it was Pederson who ensured his team simply mend and move on.
“Things happen for a reason, and you learn from them, especially in this business.” The Eagles Head Coach went on to say. “And really, in life in general. Things happen, and you learn from them. You make the necessary corrections and you move on. You don’t dwell in the past, but you remember, and you reflect from time to time. So, I think it’s a direct correlation to where the team is today, learning how to finish games and learning how to play together and understanding that they are a good football team.”
One year later, the Eagles are the strongest they have been in years. Momentum continues to build and it doesn’t matter how the team are tested, they seem to always find a way to fight through. It’s an exciting time to walk the streets of Philadelphia, but there is a sense of tension in the air. Fans know what lies ahead. Dallas handed Philadelphia a crushing overtime loss just one season ago and it has not been forgotten. This is a coming of age game for the Eagles…and it’s not one being taken for granted.
“Well, it is hard because the team, rightfully so, is being praised in a lot of areas and they’re well deserved of the credit and the praise.” Pederson went on to say. “But at the same time, we understand that we can’t look past this week. We can’t look past this game. It’s a division game on the road, national spotlight again. We’ve been in this situation this season. It’s two teams that are undefeated in the NFC East. I’d like to say that every game is important, but none more important than the one we’re faced with Sunday night.”
The Eagles aren’t taking anything for granted and a cultural shift has lifted the team to new heights. A win over Dallas would all but secure their NFC East crown and see national attention turn to postseason preparations. It’s scary to think just how much has changed in such a shot space of time…but it all comes from trusting the process.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports