When I think about the Super Bowl hangover you hear so much about, I think about a team that’s coasting, a team that’s just kind of floating along, still riding the lingering wave of euphoria from its championship.
I think of a team that’s still talented enough to win more games than it loses but is no longer doing all the little things that added up to a Super Bowl championship.
I think of a team that’s good enough to mask its issues against most opponents but lacking that deep hunger that carried it to a title.
And the most encouraging thing about these first few Eagles games is that I don’t see one single sign of any of that.
This Eagles team has had to work for everything it’s achieved so far this fall. The Eagles are 2-1 and none of their first three games was particularly pretty.
The two wins both came down to the final play, and the Eagles showed tremendous guts against both Atlanta in the opener and the Colts on Sunday, hanging on by a thread and somehow getting the job done.
Even in the Tampa game, the Eagles trailed by 20 late in the third quarter and finished with the football down six. They never really had a chance to win but they sure never stopped fighting.
Nothing has come easy for this Eagles team. They’ve been out of kilter on offense for large portions of all three games. They’ve given up way too many big plays on defense.
They have yet to play anything approaching a complete game, but they’re 2-1 because they’ve battled for 60 minutes in all three games.
And that's the biggest thing you look for with a team coming off a championship.
Do they still have that fight?
The Eagles do.
You see it on those crucial third downs that they absolutely have to convert. You see it in the red zone, when the defense absolutely has to get a stop. You see it in the fourth quarter, where they’ve outscored their three opponents 22-9 so far.
There’s something special in this locker room, and that never changes, no matter how many penalties, turnovers or mistakes this team makes.
It’s easy to forget that things didn’t come easy for the 2017 Eagles either.
The first couple months they needed a 61-yard field goal to beat the Giants, a seven-minute drive to run out the clock in a two-point win over the Chargers, a late TD to hold off the Panthers in Charlotte.
Then just as they hit their stride, Carson Wentz got hurt, Nick Foles took the reigns and they had to scramble past the Rams, find a way to beat the Raiders, hang on for dear life against the Falcons and create a series of miracles to win the Super Bowl.
The Eagles developed a remarkable will a year ago that carried them to an unforgettable finish. And that championship has done nothing to stifle their will.
They’ve seamlessly made the transition back from Foles to Wentz, they’ve won a couple games despite a rash of injuries at wide receiver and running back, they’ve held up in the fourth quarter with games on the line.
Doug Pederson deserves so much credit for the way he handled the offseason and the way he’s kind of navigated his team around the challenges that can befall any championship team.
The bottom line is the Eagles are 2-1 coming off a Super Bowl championship, and they’ve pretty much eliminated any notion of a letdown or complacency.
It’s really been the opposite. This team has proven to be just as hungry, just as driven, just as motivated as last year.
It doesn’t mean the result will be the same. But three weeks into the season, it sure seems like they’re going to give themselves a chance.