Training Camp is officially underway and the race to run it back begins. Last season ended in painful heartbreak for a team who overcome every piece of adversity thrown in their direction, only to trip at the very last hurdle in the playoffs. Decimated by injuries, the Eagles of 2018 were on the verge of making the impossible, possible, once again. But this time around, things just feel different.
Another offseason masterclass from Howie Roseman saw all necessary holes filled, some old friends return, and the future well and truly accounted for. From future franchise left tackle Andre Dillard, to Baby-Alshon, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, the Eagles drafted well, were disciplined in free agency, and traded acutely, helping forge a roster that is arguably more talented and deeper than the one that took the field in that iconic 2017 season.
That sentiment in itself has drawn plenty of attention from media and fans across the world. Are the Eagles Super Bowl frontrunners heading into 2019? Is this roster really one of the most dangerous in the league? For a team that has strived in being the overlooked underdog in each of the last two seasons for very different reseasons, this poses a stark contrast…but one Head Coach Doug Pederson is ready to combat.
“I just tell them to focus on the day, let’s get better today.” Pederson explained on the opening day of camp. “Don’t worry about the outside noise. Don’t listen to the outside noise. That’s obviously for the writers to write about and speculate upon. It’s a long time for us before we play a game. A lot of things can happen between now and then.
We just have to focus on us. My job is to make sure that we stay grounded, stay humble, and we come to work every day.”
The Eagles went donning dog masks in 2017, to having a ‘target on their back’ one season later. That whole ‘target’ vibe really didn’t pan out too well early on. Tennessee and Tampa Bay were two of the teams to come after a Philly team that for a multitude of reasons, just looked a little ‘out of it’, especially in the first quarter. Pederson’s job is to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
“We just have to focus each day.” The Super Bowl 52 winning Head Coach explained. “Message is every day. It’s a new team. It’s a new year. How fast can we gel? How fast can we come together as coaches, players, players and coaches, and get better, get 1% better each day? That was really the message to the team. Let’s just come to work and learn and grow, and see where we’re at.”
So far, so good. The Eagles are two practices into their Training Camp program and there does seem to be a very strong level of focus from players, echoed in their discussions with reporters, many stating they know exactly what the goal is and what’s needed to get there. A lot can change between now and week one, but the Eagles, for now, are ignoring all the outside noise, and focusing on their internal expectations…and those standards are extremely high.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports