Nothing to celebrate yet, as far as Eagles are concerned

Nothing to celebrate yet, as far as Eagles are concerned

The world's most focused team just keeps on winning. And keeps on shrugging it off.

The Eagles won their seventh straight game Sunday, demolishing the Broncos and their vaunted defense, 51-23, to head into the bye week 8-1.

Normally this sort of thing is cause for celebration.

Not in the Eagles' locker room.

They're too busy figuring out when their next practice is to get excited about being the best team on the planet.

“We're just focused on one thing and every single week somebody’s in the way of us reaching our goal, and that’s winning the division, getting in the playoffs and making something happen once we get there," Rodney McLeod said.

"This week, the Broncos were in the way. They were that roadblock. That's all that was on our minds. All we care about is, 'Who's in our way next?'"

The Eagles head into the bye riding the eighth longest winning streak in the franchise's 85-year history. They haven't lost since they fell to the Chiefs in Week 2 and they seem to be gathering steam with each passing week.

They've been basically unstoppable for nearly two months.

“It means that we’re here and we kind of control our own destiny, and that’s a good place to be," Chris Long said. "But there is a lot of football left. Just getting into November, this is when games get bigger and bigger, but they’re big games because we put ourselves in a position to have big games.

"I think a healthy confidence is good and we’ve done a lot of good work to get to this point, but we also need to take it to another level when we get back.”

This team's focus is remarkable. They literally let nothing distract them.

Injuries? Trap games? Letdown games? Looking past an opponent? Taking a week off? It simply doesn't happen with this team.

"It’s the leaders on the team," said Brandon Graham, who is one of them. "People that have been in this spot before, having success, and who know what it takes.

"We know how it is and how things can change based on (our) attitude. … Everybody’s just out there having fun and not getting too big-headed about what’s going on. Just living in the moment."

The Eagles are one of only two teams in the NFL that hasn't lost a game by more than a touchdown.

The other is the Rams, who are 6-2 with a red-hot second-year quarterback of their own in Jared Goff. The Eagles-Rams showdown in Los Angeles in mid-December is looming as a possible battle for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Not that anybody is looking that far ahead.

"We are where we are because that group in the locker room," head coach Doug Pederson said. "They are playing with a lot of confidence. They love to play together. They practice extremely well during the week and prepare themselves, and they are doing the little things right. That's what you want out of our football team."

How rare is it for a team to win seven straight games and score 26 or more points in all seven games?

The Eagles are the 26th team in NFL history to do that. Which in the big scope of things is very, very few.

“Man, we don't get complacent at all," Jalen Mills said. "We have the wins. We know the record. We know we’re winning. But at the same time, it’s like a 24-hour rule with us. We're happy after we win, but when we get back in (the next day), everybody’s focused and it switches to our next opponent.

"It's always the team in front of us. Coming from last year, starting as fast as we did (3-0) and then being up and down, we learned a lot from that.

"We’ve got guys on our team who are hungry, guys who sacrifice their stats, guys who don’t care about their body, guys who don't care about anything but winning. Sacrificing everything to help the guy next to them.”

Things will get harder. Soon.

The Eagles have only beaten one team that currently has a winning record -- the 6-3 Panthers. Their eight wins have come over seven teams with a combined 25-41 record.

And among their next four opponents are the 5-3 Cowboys, 5-3 Seahawks and 6-2 Rams.

So we'll know what the Eagles really have here in about five weeks.

But for now, 8-1 in an NFL where no other team even has seven wins is a remarkable place to be.

"For us to be at 8-1 right now, it's a tremendous credit to the guys and coaches in the locker room," Pederson said.

"Hats off to those guys for the way they work, the way they practice, and prepare. And standing here today looking back at it, I'm not surprised by the way they work."

Michael Bennett knows why Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl champions

Michael Bennett knows why Eagles can repeat as Super Bowl champions

Michael Bennett was with the Seahawks when they won the Super Bowl in 2013, and he was with the Seahawks the next three years when they were supposed to but never did again.

He knows how hard it is to win it twice. If the Seahawks, with Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch and company, couldn’t do it, who can?

Bennett thinks his new team is on the right track.

“They’re not complacent,” he said. “You look at most organizations. They win, they think that’s it, that year. But this team is pushing and moving pieces and finding our weaknesses and making them better, and I think that’s how you prepare to win [again]. 

“I think they’ve done a great job of it and me being an addition is something that I think is a great move.”

The Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII six weeks ago, acquired the 32-year-old Bennett, a Pro Bowl defensive end in each of the last three years, and a seventh-round pick from the Seahawks last week in exchange for receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round pick.

Bennett was there in 2014, when the Seahawks went 12-4 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket before losing, 28-24, to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.

The Seahawks were one yard from winning. But that final sequence shows just how hard it is to repeat. The last NFL team to win back-to-back Super Bowls was the Patriots in 2003 and 2004. The last NFC team was the Cowboys in 1992 and 1993.

“When you come to the NFL, you want to hold that Lombardi,” Bennett said. “A lot of people can get Pro Bowls, a lot of people can get a lot of different things in the NFL when it comes to contracts, but not a lot of people can hold that Lombardi, and when you hold it, it’s something that’s very dear. 

“It’s like you’re holding your child and being able to caress it and hold it and it’s yours and it’s something that you really value, and I think for me, that’s what it’s really about. 

“To come into an organization and you look around and everybody wants that. First thing I talked to Howie (Roseman) about was, the first thing he said is, 'I want to go back,' and when you hear somebody say something like that, you feel it, and I felt it through the phone and I felt the vibe, so for me, that’s what it’s really about.”

Bennett was asked what he learned from Seattle’s failure to repeat its 2013 success and how that might help the Eagles find their way to a second consecutive championship.

“I kind of go with the Nelson Mandela approach: ‘You never really lose, you either win or you grow from situations,’" Bennett said.

“And I think we were just growing as a team. We were a young team, we were having so much success, I was on a team full of superstars every single day. There were never enough cameras, every commercial was somebody on my team. So it was just us growing and I think we all just wanted to continue to grow. 

“As you know, in this league, it’s hard to get back to those moments and be able to win those games. Things happen, people get traded, new players come in, things change. I don’t think it took a toll on us, we just move on season to season and try to be the best players we could possibly be.”

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'greatest' ever

Michael Bennett thinks Eagles' DL can be among 'greatest' ever

As Michael Bennett watched the Eagles face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, he couldn’t help but think about how he would fit with the Birds’ defensive line.

And how he could make an already impressive unit even better.

“Then a month later, it happens,” Bennett said at his introductory press conference in Philly on Monday afternoon. “Things always happen for a reason. This is just another great opportunity.”

Bennett is 32 now, but is coming off his third consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. He clearly thinks he has plenty left in the tank and the Eagles obviously agree. They traded with the Seahawks to get him and then released a more expensive Vinny Curry.

The Birds then brought in Haloti Ngata and let Beau Allen walk in free agency. So the Eagles’ defensive line now includes Bennett, Ngata, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Derek Barnett. The group includes five former first-round picks and has a combined 11 Pro Bowls between them.

On Monday afternoon, Bennett put the quarterbacks of the NFC East on notice (see story) and then didn’t mince words about how great this defensive line can be in 2018.

“I think it can be one of the greatest,” he said. “I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game if we approach the game every single way. Just go out there and just keep doing what they’re doing and just finding a way to add and just keep showing how many great players.

“I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State. You want to be able to have those guys who can come in and shoot and shoot and score every time.”

This isn’t the first time an Eagles defensive lineman has compared the unit to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, it was Curry who said it last October after the Eagles tortured San Francisco's C.J. Beathard for an afternoon at the Linc (see story). Curry’s out and Bennett is in, but the rotation is still going strong.

Bennett played 934 defensive snaps for the Seahawks in 2017. That was the third most of any defensive lineman in the NFL. For comparison’s sake, Graham led the Eagles’ defensive linemen in snaps with 666 in the regular season; that ranked 43rd in the NFL among defensive linemen.

So maybe that means that the disruptive numbers Bennett put up in Seattle were because he played so much. Or, on the flip side, staying fresh might actually help increase his productivity and lead to more longevity. The Eagles are hoping for the latter.

“I’m comfortable with taking less plays, man,” Bennett said. “But, like I said, I came here to be an All-Star, just like I’ve been, to continuously play at a Pro Bowl level and I don’t think that’s no different. Just taking snaps off, being able to have a [longer] career, it’s something that every player wishes and dreams about. And this organization, when you think about play snaps and counts and keeping guys fresh for the moments that count.

“Because at the end of the day, it’s not about September or October or November; it’s about January and February. To be able to keep guys fresh and to have those opportunities where you have guys to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can. You gotta go out there and play savage every single play and I think less snaps can give me the opportunity to do that.”