It’s crazy to think that a year ago the Eagles were trying to win their first championship in 57 years, and now they’re trying to become the first NFC team to repeat in 25 years.
And they love it.
“I do love it,” Rodney McLeod said. “Everybody’s coming after us, and it’s great.
“It forces everyone to elevate their game and we’ve got the men to do it. That’s the type of guys we have on this team. I’m glad to be in this seat. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“It’s going to run through us. It’s going to run through Philadelphia.”
This preseason is all about getting ready for the 2018 season, but it’s also all about getting used to being the hunted instead of the hunter.
They know they’re going to get every team’s best, and they’re embracing it.
“People are gunning for us and they’re going to have to come take it from us,” Brandon Graham said.
“I want to be able to get everybody’s best game. We don’t take anybody lightly, even if they’re 0-and-whatever. We don’t take any games lightly because we know people are going to give us their best shot because of who we are.”
All that stuff about “circling that date on the calendar?" It's true.
Think about how fired up you get as an Eagles fan when the Eagles are about to play an elite team or the defending Super Bowl champs.
The Eagles are going to get that 16 times this year.
Doesn’t matter who they play or where the game is. They’re going to be everybody’s Super Bowl this year, and they need to be ready for it.
“It doesn’t happen often where a team can go back to back and repeat and that’s a challenge in itself,” Nick Foles said.
“It’s a challenge when everyone’s gunning for you and we’re aware of it. … Last year is not going to help us this year, and that’s the thing that we’ve preached. The last game isn’t going to help the next game.”
It’s one thing knowing all this and saying it. It’s another thing really believing it.
And we won’t know how much Doug Pederson’s message has gotten through until the Eagles start playing meaningful football in September.
Will they really be the rare championship team to avoid complacency or will they fall victim to the Super Bowl hangover we hear so much about?
“The greatest enemy of success is complacency,” Foles said as training camp kicked into gear this week. “You see it all the time and we’re aware of that.
“We have a target on us, but we just have to do what we do. And we have to prepare, we have to work our butts off, we have to hold each other accountable, all the little things that it takes to be successful we have to do day in and day out.
“But there’s such a great brotherhood here of guys that really hold each other accountable. We’re going to push each other on the playing field and that’s why this is a special team.”
Here’s a list of all the teams that have repeated in the Super Bowl Era:
Seems like the NFL is due for another one.
“The goal is to obviously win another one and to win another one and to win another one,” Doug Pederson said. “I mean, that's why we get into this business. That's the motivation.”
You never know. But this team seems so grounded, so determined, so motivated.
Honestly, it would be more surprising if they don’t make another deep playoff run than if they do.
It’s still been less than six months since Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, but it genuinely seems like they’ve moved on.
“You’ve got to be where your feet are, that’s one thing Doug always says,” McLeod said.
“We’re not back in Minnesota, we’re right here in training camp and we’ve got our eyes on the prize, and that’s going ahead and winning another one for the city and for ourselves.
“That’s all we focus on. Defending this title and getting better.”
And if people keep doubting them?
“Put it on the bulletin board,” Graham said with that familiar laugh. “Just look at it. Just try to prove them wrong. That’s what we do and it’s been working for us, so we’ll keep doing that.”