Eagles Feel Special Bond Forming
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles finished the first half of the season with the NFL’s best record winning seven of their first eight games. It is the first time they have done that since 2004, when the franchise last appeared in the Super Bowl.
There is a much different feeling in this locker room than there has been in the past. It is more than chemistry, more than having fun and more than simply remaining focused. Whatever it is, players say it is definitely a special locker room.
“I have been here for six years and I think this is the most complete that this locker room has been,” Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox said. “There is no selfishness on this team. Everybody has been staying behind each other through the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“I have been a part of a couple of special locker rooms, each in different ways,” Running Back LeGarrette Blount stated. “These guys right here, you can tell that they are extremely hungry for success and for wins. You got to keep that mentality if you want to be successful.”
“We have good people that put in good hard work and are unselfish guys,” Defensive End Chris Long said. “A lot of these guys have never enjoyed success before on this level. When you are 7-1 or 6-1 and you have never been there before and you show up to work you are excited. Every week is an opportunity. There is no this is getting old. This is fun and we want to keep it that way.”
Sure, winning cures all and winning is more fun. But winning has not come easy for this team. It has faced adversity and overcome it through its first eight games. The Eagles have lost starters at key positions on all sides of the ball, yet still found ways to win. Running Back Darren Sproles, Left Tackle Jason Peters and Special Teams ace Chris Maragos are all on Injured Reserve. Cornerback Ronald Darby got injured in the season opener and has yet to return. Linebacker Jordan Hicks has missed several games due to injury and that will continue.
Regardless of who is playing at a certain position, accountability remains high and that continues to be the glue that keeps this team sticking firmly together.
“When things happen, we don’t have a bunch of guys on the sideline pointing fingers,” Defensive End Brandon Graham said. “We have a bunch of guys trying to make it right.”
“The difference is that we are finishing games and winning for your brother,” Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery smiled. “It’s a lot of unselfish stuff. Nobody cares who scores the touchdown, who gets the sack, who picks the ball off or who gets the fumble.”
Multiple players discussed the unselfish nature of this team and were quick to give credit to Head Coach Doug Pederson. After winning last Monday Night over the Redskins, Pederson allowed the team to follow its day off on Tuesday by showing up late on Wednesday. He also continues to work on keeping the team grounded while still having fun preparing throughout the week.
“Doug (Pederson) does a good job of allowing us to focus and not look ahead,” Safety Rodney McLeod said. “We focus on the next opponent. He calls it a faceless opponent. No matter who is there we are going to play our game and play our solid ball. It is another team coming into our house and we say not today, not on us.”
“We are staying in the moment,” Safety Malcolm Jenkins stated. “We are not looking ahead at what can be. We are not looking behind us at what we have done. We are staying right in the moment. Everybody is looking for an opportunity to make a point as an individual and as a team. We are having fun doing it and sticking to the process and enjoying each other.”
Multiple players gave credit to the coaching staff for their preparation throughout the week and how it trickles down to the players. They claim they are always prepared for what they expect to see out of their opponent. Pederson is quick to turn that around and credit his players for the successful season to date.
“It’s a great locker room,” Pederson said. “We have great leaders on this football team. That’s the one thing I’ve really appreciated about our guys is they just kind of [take it] one week at a time, one game at a time, and they did it again today.”
Defensive End Chris Long won a Super Bowl ring last year with the New England Patriots. He has been impressed with the mentality of this relatively young football team.
“If you are enjoying your first real, dominant season as a team, nobody is going to show up on Sunday and take it for granted,” Long said. “We haven’t been here before so let’s build on it and every week is an opportunity to build on that.”
How special is this team? The Eagles are certainly making believers out of many of the so called experts around the NFL. They are no longer the hunter. With the NFL’s best record, they are now the prey and wearing a huge target on their collective backs every time they take the field.
They will look to improve to 8-1 when the Eagles host the Denver Broncos on Sunday.