In past seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles have thrived off adopting an ‘Underdog’ identity and mentality. The team has seemed to thrive on playing with a chip on their shoulder, even as defending champs last year, the Eagles only hit their straps when wider NFL community started doubting them. As minicamp came to a close last week, Head Coach Doug Pederson announced that the motto for his Eagles squad this season is ‘Everything Matters’. Here’s why this new team slogan is a perfect fit for this current Eagles roster, and how it can create a championship mindset.
‘Everything we do in life matters. You have got choices and you’ve got consequences. The decisions we make sometimes matter, and I feel like as a football team, as coaches, as players, and even as personnel, support staff, everybody in the organisation, everything we do matters. It matters to winning games or losing games on the football field.’
Pederson’s message is clear. Not only the players but the organization as a whole is buying in, ideally resulting in more W’s. Pederson stressed the importance of ‘getting right’ both physically and mentally. Indeed, the 2019 season was riddled with moments where mental lapses in focus and technique cost the Eagles dearly, and clear opportunities to win games slipped away.
The Eagles finished 9-7. Not horrendous, but definitely a step down from the lofty expectations bestowed upon them after a magical Super Bowl season only one year before. Heartbreaking losses against Tennessee, Carolina, Dallas, and New Orleans all cost the Eagles. Whether it was a back-breaking 4th and long conversion against the defense, a tipped pass falling into the arms of Amari Cooper for the game-winning score or Alshon Jeffery dropping a slant that was intercepted when the Eagles inexplicably rushed to the line before the 2-minute warning. Basically, the Eagles had timely mental lapses that drastically altered the course of their season.
It’s a mindset. Doing the little things in preparation, so that they don’t become big mistakes on the field. Pederson used the example ‘If we jump offsides in practice, we’re probably going to jump offsides in the game, right?’ And this sentiment was echoed by senior players. Safety Rodney McLeod told reporters of the importance the games finer details; ‘Weight room, film room even inside this locker room, building that chemistry and bond, and obviously on the field every little detail is important in this game and can impact a game tremendously’.
Team captain Malcolm Jenkins stressed the importance of not falling behind through sloppy preparation when trying to get to that trophy. It would seem from the outside looking in, that the Eagles locker room, spearheaded by the veterans, are dialed in and laser-focused leading into the season.
Analyzing the Eagles roster, it’s clear to see the front office have applied ‘Everything Matters’ motto, particularly with the additions made this offseason. Bringing in hungry veterans like Malik Jackson, Andrew Sendejo and Zach Brown who have never won championships and understand exactly how hard it is to even make it to the Superbowl will have a strong impact on the locker room and younger players.
But perhaps the most influential addition that illustrates ‘Everything Matters’ best is the return of fan-favorite DeSean Jackson. Since inking a 3-year deal to return to the team that drafted him, Jackson has painted a figure of true professionalism, shedding the tag of being the flamboyant receiver who some presented as a distraction in the locker room. From all reports, the chemistry between Jackson and QB Carson Wentz has flourished this offseason and Jackson is committed to the grind. Jackson has also taken on a mentoring role as a key veteran in the receiver room, mentoring rookie standout JJ Arcega-Whiteside through the beginning of his career.
JJAW has raved about Jackson’s willingness to give advice and lend a helping hand when needed. Not many have taken a career path like Jackson’s, but it’s clear to see that one of the Eagles favorite sons is relishing in his return to the City of Brotherly Love, and with this second chance comes the unique opportunity to join a winning team with realistic championship goals. Something that DeSean Jackson is not taking for granted.
So as the Eagles players undertake their 5-week layoff from all football-related activities, they bring with them this powerful motto. Every detail, every drill, every extra rep no matter how small or inconceivable they may seem, they all add up on the road to glory. ‘Everything Matters’ in 2020.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports