“Superbowl or bust” is always an expectation that weighs so much that it is unfair. Looking at a team on paper, fans begin to speculate who are the clear favorites. While the Philadelphia Eagles are considered to be a heavy favorite to represent the NFC in the Superbowl this season, none of the players are putting all of their eggs into one basket. The Eagles learned their lesson from the “dream team” comment that spewed from the mouth of Vince Young a decade ago. That voodoo curse is one best left alone.
The players are getting better and beginning to mold into the juggernaut that they have the potential to be. Under the leadership of Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz on the offensive side of the ball, the mantra seems to be that the players are more concerned with playing better together each day. Training camp is fresh out of the box and there is a lot that can happen between training camp, pre-season, and the first week of the regular season. It is important for a team that has high expectations to remain humble. The higher the expectations, the harder they fall. Keeping an ear to the ground and blocking out the “watercooler” talk from around the league is the current mood in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room.
“I just tell them to focus on the day, let’s get better today. 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.– Doug Pederson on the first day of Training Camp.
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.”
On paper, the Birds are nothing short of explosive in all parts of the game. Offense, defense, and special teams, the Eagles have great talent that has proven their worth before. Talent can only take a team so far and how a team bonds together is special. Consider 2018 and all the injuries to the defensive secondary. The almost accidental depth that Philadelphia stumbled upon makes up the defensive backfield in 2019. That team wasn’t supposed to have the defensive secondary they did to make the playoffs in 2018, but now in 2019, the Eagles have a group of cornerbacks and safeties that the rest of the league better not sleep on.
The Philadelphia Eagles are considered favorites in the NFC and Doug Pederson is using that knowledge to push his team at practice. Getting comfortable is just about the worst thing a team can do if they are a pre-season contender. With the abundance of talent that these players have on the 2019 Eagles roster, the Philadelphia coaching staff knows that keeping practices tough so the games are simple is the only way to keep the players focused. It makes sense. Jason Kelce said it best at the Superbowl 52 parade, “hungry dogs run faster.” Pederson has a hungry group of players that he doesn’t want to overfeed with expectations.
One player that the Philadelphia Eagles fanbase is familiar with, but is now a changed man, is DeSean Jackson. Previously, it wouldn’t be so unlikely to hear Jackson chime in about the team being one of the best in the league and tout around with his personality. He used to be how Joel Embiid currently is with the Philadelphia 76ers. Just go back to last season to when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Eagles and Jackson lent his wardrobe to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick looked almost exactly like Conor McGregor and had the “swag” to back it up after his performance that game. That was Jackson living through his teammates. That’s the Jackson that walked off against the New York Giants on a certain “Miracle and the Meadowlands 2” punt return and threw the ball to Times Square.
Suddenly, DeSean Jackson doesn’t want to “keep harping at something that’s so far away and down the road.” This is “D-Jax” in 2019. I loved the one that was alongside Michael Vick. Something tells me a more focused and polished Jackson in 2019 is going to be off the charts with Carson Wentz behind center. That’s before mentioning the supporting cast he has around him on offense. The Philadelphia Eagles fanbase will never forget the “dream team” remark from Vince Young and Jackson is a player who hasn’t either.
This 2019 season seems like the most dangerous season for any opposing NFL team on the Philadelphia Eagles schedule since the Eagles won the Superbowl in 2017. Gone is the “beating the dead horse” debate of anything about Nick Foles or Carson Wentz. Wentz has a full offseason to work with his offensive weapons. There is depth on defense in 2019 that wasn’t exactly available going into 2018. Philadelphia is thick with talent at the running back position for the first time since 2017. While the hype is real and loud, the Eagles are putting on their noise-canceling headphones and just playing the game. Strap in tight and hold on. It’s almost time to “Fly Eagles Fly.”
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports