Eagles

Eagles not acting like a 7-1 team

usa-doug-pederson-frank-reich-eagles.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles not acting like a 7-1 team

They're the best team in football. Just good luck trying to get any of them to say it.

The Eagles are flying along at 7-1 after their 33-10 win over the 49ers Sunday, but all these guys seem to want to talk about is who's next on the schedule, when's the next practice, who wants to go lift?

You want to talk Super Bowl? Winning streaks? Playoff seeding? Forget it. This team is so focused all they really care about right now is Wednesday's practice.

"This team has a really good way of living in the moment," said veteran defensive end Chris Long, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year.

"I think we've got a lot of guys that maybe haven't been on a team that's been this good before, so it's pure. You're just excited to come to work every day, you're excited for every game, and you have a chance to win another one every week, and that's what keeps these games big games.

"We have a lot of guys who haven't won and have been trusting the process and it's kind of culminating in us having an opportunity to build our lead in the division every week and distance ourselves a little bit. So I think everybody's just really excited. It's not like we're spoiled by playing in big games. I'm sure this is the first year a lot of guys have been 7-1."

The Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 7-1, the seventh time in franchise history they've been 7-1 (also 1949, 1960, 1961, 1980, 1981 and 2004). Their six-game winning streak is the eighth-longest in franchise history. 

They have a 2½-game lead in the NFC East over the Cowboys and a one-game lead over the Vikings — the Vikings??? — for top seeding in the NFC. The Rams, Seahawks and Saints are all 5-2.

The Eagles must be feeling pretty good about themselves right now, right?

"We're 1-0 and that's the motto," rookie running back Corey Clement said. "We're 1-0, not 7-1. When you think about it, if you start talking about being 7-1, guys are going to think that we made it and the season is solidified.

"You've seen so many great teams fall short because they think they arrived when they got to 7-1. We've got to stay grounded and stay humble and keep doing the things that got us here."

The Eagles have found different ways to win all year and that was the case again Sunday.

They had four sacks, two interceptions, blocked a field goal, had a 50-yard field goal and made enough big plays in all three phases to offset an uncharacteristically mediocre game from Carson Wentz.

"Last year, a lot of the games we lost came down to six points or less and we fell short," Rodney McLeod said. "This year, when we feel the momentum shifting in a game, when we feel a team getting that momentum, this year, we're responding.

"The defense comes up with a turnover or a big stop or somebody makes an explosive play. It's just a team effort."

This is as focused a group as you'll see. As unselfish a group as you'll see. As close a group as you'll see.

"You can get easily sidetracked by the media or other outside noise," Clement said. "We know the true potential we have with this team and we would hate to see this team or any of us fall to another level because we let distractions affect us. …

"The first day I came in and tried to compete with everybody, it wasn't easy, and when it's not easy, that's when you know you have something special. We're just grinding every day, working hard every day. We're having fun but we know what Coach (Doug) Pederson expects and we have a certain standard and we want to play beyond the standard we set in our previous game."

This all comes from Pederson. He preaches a one-day-at-a-time philosophy, but a lot of coaches do that. 

His message really seems to be getting through.

"It's a great locker room," Pederson said. "We have great leaders on this football team. They know how to keep the guys focused. We talked about it all week. We were coming off that emotional Monday night game, to really a relatively short week, physically a short week a little bit. 

"And then to come out and play and stay in there for four quarters and not overlook this team is a tremendous effort by the players in that locker room.

"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 (Sunday)."

The Eagles are back home Sunday to face the Broncos, who are 3-3 going into a game Monday night against the Chiefs in Kansas City.

Then comes the bye week and then a four-game stretch against the Cowboys in Dallas, the Bears at home and the Seahawks and Rams on the road. The combined record of those four teams is 17-12.

"We just know what the ultimate goal is," McLeod said. "The ultimate goal isn't to be 7-1, the goal is to win this division like we set out to do and from there ultimately win a championship.

"That's why you play this game. That's why we're all here. That's why we've been sweating and putting in all the effort every day."

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

usa-mack-hollins-eagles-bike.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Mack Hollins
Roob: Hollins wasn't really a factor later in the season, once Torrey Smith got going, but he did show early in the year what kind of player he can be, notably with that 64-yard TD catch in the second Redskins game. Depending on what the Eagles do about Smith, Hollins should be either the Eagles' third or fourth receiver this fall. Either way, he'll be here, and I expect him to make a big jump in Year 2.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Hollins caught just 16 passes as a rookie and it seemed like he just never started producing the way he seems capable of. Even when Smith struggled, Hollins got more playing time and didn't produce. The good news is he's still young and plays a role on special teams. The Eagles will probably bolster their receiving corps in some way, but if they don't, Hollins will have a shot at starting if Smith is gone next season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alshon Jeffery
Roob: Jeffery really played better than his stats this year. He made every big catch, caught every big third-down pass, made huge plays in the end zone. Jeffery was a star receiver without a star receiver's stats. His unselfish attitude carried over to the rest of the receivers and throughout the roster. And he did it all with a rotator cuff injury that required post-season surgery. Can't wait to see what Alshon can do healthy.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jeffery didn't put up eye-popping numbers during the regular season, but if you needed any proof he's a No. 1 receiver, go back and watch Super Bowl LII, when he made that ridiculous catch in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The good thing about Jeffery is he really doesn't care at all about his numbers. There are a lot of diva receivers in the NFL, but Jeffery clearly isn't one of them. All he cared about last year was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and he certainly helped get the Eagles there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Roob: Jenkins has so many roles on and off the field — community activist, NFLPA organizer, locker room leader — it's easy to forget just how good a player he is. Jenkins has been here four years and has had four very solid, very consistent, very productive seasons. He made his second Pro Bowl this year and joined Bill Bradley (3) and Dawk (7) as only the third Eagles safety since 1960 to make multiple Pro Bowls. Jenkins is signed to a cap-friendly deal through 2020 and should be an Eagle for many years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As important as Jenkins is to the Eagles as a safety and defensive back, you could make a legitimate argument that he's even more important to the team as a leader and man. There's a reason he became the guy to follow up Doug Pederson's postgame speeches. He isn't just the leader of the defense; he's the leader of the entire team. And on the field, he's still playing at a really high, Pro Bowl caliber level. He's 30 now but is still signed through 2020 and maybe outside of Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most important defensive player. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

part6.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Darrell Greene
Roob: The Hall of Fame cornerback is now 58 years old and 21 years removed from his last Pro Bowl season with the Redskins. Oh wait … wrong Darrell Green. This is Darrell GREENE, and he's a 6-foot-3, 320-pound guard out of San Diego State who's been on the Eagles' practice squad most of the last two years. The Eagles liked Greene enough to keep him around the last couple years, and unless they see something in Chance Warmack that I missed, Greene has a chance to stick around as a young O-line prospect.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Greene has been around now for the last two seasons. He was without a team for most of 2017; the Eagles didn't bring him back to the practice squad until December. The offensive guard had some real potential coming out of San Diego State, and the Eagles paid him a lot of guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent before 2016. But he's never really impressed them enough to stick around for good. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Roob: With Hicks, it's always about durability, not ability. Hicks has played more than half a season only once in his three NFL seasons, and since he's under contract for 2018 with a modest $2.068 million cap figure, he's obviously not going anywhere. The question is what the Eagles do with him after 2018 when he's due to become a free agent. Hicks can play. We all know that. He needs to prove this year that he can stay healthy in order to get a big-money deal a year from now.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Losing Hicks was a problem in 2017 and his absence started showing up late in the season. He's a big-time playmaker. It's a shame he got hurt last year because if he didn't, he'd be in line for a payday. For now, he'll be back in the final year of his four-year rookie contract until he can prove he's the same player he was pre-injury. 

Verdict: STAYS

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Roob: Grugier-Hill must be Howie Roseman's dream. He's signed at the minimum through 2019 but is an awfully valuable member of the roster — a reserve linebacker and emergency kicker and maybe the team's best special teamer. Kamu's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He really doesn't play at all as a linebacker, but Grugier-Hill has become one of the best special teams players in the NFL and had a real chance to be named a Pro Bowler in 2017. He led the team in special teams tackles with 19 last season. He's still young, cheap and is a big part of Dave Fipp's group. 

Verdict: STAYS