WELCOME TO ‘THE NEW NORMAL’
The head coach’s bold proclamation demonstrates that a new standard has been set in Philadelphia
By DAVE SPADARO Eagles Insider
Doug Pederson gave his players some time. He knew how the
long, taxing, and Super Bowl Championship-rewarding season of
2017 had extended into February and beyond. He knew from the
experience of winning a Super Bowl during his 12-year playing career
how demanding the aftereffects were from the ultimate victory.
So he made sure to ease his team back into the swing of
things in the spring, through much of the Organized Team
Activities to the cusp of the team’s mandatory minicamp before
delivering the message that shapes the 2018 team mantra.
“How much,” Pederson asked as he addressed the team at the
NovaCare Complex, “are you willing to give up for this football team?”
Coming off their historic 2017 championship campaign,
the Eagles are looking for more in 2018. “The new normal”
is how Pederson termed it, the idea of playing late into the
postseason and winning multiple Super Bowls. And to become
only the ninth team in NFL history to repeat as champions, the
Eagles have to overcome an improved NFC East, an extremely
challenging regular-season schedule, and the understanding that
every opponent is going to give the Eagles their best shot.
The Eagles are “underdogs” no longer.
“That’s fine with us. We know that teams out there are thinking that
to be the best you have to beat the best,” said Pro Bowl tight end
Zach Ertz, whose catch, three steps, and dive into the end zone for
an 11-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter provided the Eagles
the winning points in the 41-33 victory over New England in Super
Bowl LII. “We have to prepare each and every week for the best from
teams. That’s fine with us. We are going to do everything we can to
102 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES YEARBOOK
prepare our best each week and go out there and keep it going.”
There are some tasty storylines as the season approaches.
The Eagles host Atlanta on Thursday, September 6 at Lincoln
Financial Field and have a lot of work to do between now
and then. Among the to-do items on the agenda are the
overall health of the team, so let’s begin there.
Clearly, the status of quarterback Carson Wentz is at the top of
the list. Wentz had 32 touchdown passes in 2017 and then tore
the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on a dive into the
end zone in a December 10 game at the Los Angeles Rams, stayed
on the field to throw his 33rd touchdown pass and then limped
off the field, his season over. Wentz stated throughout the spring
and early summer that he intends to play against Atlanta, but as
the Eagles reported to Training Camp, Wentz was still a medical
question mark as he ramped up his on-field activity and remained
optimistic. If Wentz isn’t ready for the start of 2018, the Eagles
will go with Nick Foles, who was brilliant replacing Wentz and
ended up winning Most Valuable Player honors in the Super Bowl.
Wentz, though, isn’t the only health-related question mark.
The Eagles overcame a slew of injuries last year to win it all, showing
tremendous resilience and depth. Some of those injured players
from 2017 remain in focus now. Can left tackle Jason Peters come
all the way back after suffering a knee injury? Is middle linebacker
Jordan Hicks (Achilles tendon) ready to take over the middle of
the defense again? Will running back/return man Darren Sproles
be as explosive after suffering a torn ACL in Week 3 of 2017?
How about defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (back) and defensive