With top record and time off, Eagles' next focus is to not feel themselves

With top record and time off, Eagles' next focus is to not feel themselves

The whole country saw Thursday night what we've all suspected here in Philly the last few weeks.

The Eagles are for real.

About 15 million people nationwide watched the Eagles topple the Panthers 28-23 Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium in a battle of 4-1 teams.

National TV games have a way of altering the conversation about a player or a team, and the Eagles know that with a four-game winning streak, a 5-1 record and a signature prime-time win on the road over a playoff-caliber team, the perception of the Eagles is changing.

“Now you’re going to have bandwagon people who are going to jump on and say, ‘Yeah, you’re for real," safety Corey Graham said. "But it doesn’t really matter to us.

"As long as the guys in this room continue to fight and continue to do what we need to do, we’re all right with that. We’re going to get more respect, but that comes with more responsibility. We’ve got to go out there and make sure we’re ready to play every week."

The mood in the Eagles' locker room as they embarked on their mini-bye — four days off and 10 days without a game — was confidence and swagger but also a great deal of perspective and caution.

They know they're good. But they also know there's a long way to go, and a 5-1 record in mid-October won't mean anything if they don't keep winning.

You never really know, but this sure doesn't seem like a team that's going to let a little success get to its head.

“Coach (Doug) Pederson always tells us, block out distractions," safety Rodney McLeod said. "Can’t listen to what’s going outside in the world, just be focused on next game and what we have in this locker room and being committed to one another, and I think that’s what we’re going to do."

That said, it doesn't mean they're not going to enjoy the show they put on Thursday night for a national TV audience.

"Oh yeah," McLeod said. "Every primetime game, you want to go out there and represent not only yourself but your team. We’re here to put the league on notice, man, and I think this was a good game to do that. 

"It was versus a good team, on the road, short week, and we stepped up to the plate."

This is the 10th time in franchise history the Eagles have been 5-1 or better after six games. They were 6-0 in 1981 and 2004, and they've also been 5-1 in 1949, 1950, 1960, 1961, 1979, 1980 and 2014.

And all that is with four games on the road — the Eagles are already 3-1 away from the Linc after winning just one road game last year. The Eagles' next three games — against the Redskins, 49ers and Broncos — are all at home.

Only three of their 10 remaining opponents currently have a winning record: the 3-1 Broncos, 3-2 Seahawks and 3-2 Rams.

Doug Pederson, now 12-10 as an NFL head coach, said it's not easy to keep his team grounded and focused coming off such an emotional win and with four consecutive wins.

"It's tough," he said. "It's a fine line because the players are going to read and they're going to listen to all the media outlets on TV and stuff and just hear how people are talking about them and saying how good and how great they are. 

"But (we have) to keep it real, too. That comes from me. Yeah, we're winning these games, but there is a lot to fix, a lot to correct, as well. It's never perfect."

Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins, two veterans with Super Bowl rings, both cautioned their teammates against buying into the hype.

They've both been to the top, but they also know how tenuous that grip on the upper echelon of the NFL is.

"I think a lot of us have anticipated us having success," Jenkins said. "The biggest thing is handling that success and being able to stay goal-oriented and being able to stay focused on the day and the task at hand and one week at a time and not listen to all the things people are projecting onto us.

"And the only way to get through that adversity is to be present in the moment. … That’s up to the leaders on the team to combat all of the praise and hoopla that will come with it. I’ve been on teams that have handled success well and teams that have handled success poorly, and I don’t intend to let that slip."

Long, who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots last year, also preached caution.

“We’ll see if we’re special," he said. "I don’t want to say we’re special yet. We’re six games in, we’ve got a long way to go. Special teams sustain this kind of performance as the weather gets colder and real football starts in November and December. We’ve got to set ourselves up for that."

This is a team that hasn't been in the playoffs since 2013, hasn't won a playoff game since 2008 and hasn't even had a winning season since 2014.

So 5-1 is heady stuff. 

"We don’t listen to the noise," Alshon Jeffery said. "We believe in each other. We’re the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s a new year. We’re just getting started."

Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

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Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

We’ve officially reached the only sort of dead period on the NFL calendar. The Eagles are through their spring practices and won’t be back at the NovaCare Complex until July 25 for the start of training camp. 

That sounds far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. 

You guys were great and gave me a ton of questions, so I’ll answer half today and half Sunday. Let’s go: 

I’m tempted to say defensive tackle just for health concerns surrounding Tim Jernigan, but I have to answer linebacker. Jordan Hicks appears to be healthy after tearing his Achilles last year, but as good as he is when healthy, it’s just tough to count on him. Two years ago, he was able to play a full season and things were looking good, but then he suffered another serious injury. If Hicks and Bradham stay healthy, linebackers aren’t a concern. The Eagles will have either Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry or Corey Nelson take the weakside spot on base downs and they’ll be OK. 

But without Mychal Kendricks, it’s fair to be concerned about their depth at the position, especially after veteran pickup Paul Worrilow was already lost for the year. Kendricks came up huge last year as a fill-in; not sure the Eagles have that kind of depth this year. 

Not sure yet. What I can tell you about De’Vante Bausby is that he was impressive this spring and the coaching staff seems to love him. I remain very, very skeptical that he’s good enough to keep Sidney Jones off the field. With that said, I do think he’s talented enough to make the 53-man roster. We’ll get a better sense at camp when the pads go on, but I have him penciled in to make the team. 

Yes on both. The Nate Sudfeld hype is real. In our first extended looks at the young quarterback, he’s been incredibly impressive. It’s starting to make sense why the Eagles snatched him from Washington and then blocked the Colts from signing him last season. They kept him on the 53 in the second half of last year, so they’re completely prepared to keep three QBs on this year’s roster if Foles is still on the team. 

This is going to be the summer of Nate Sudfeld. We’re going to see him play a ton in those preseason games and that will let us know if he’s ready to be QB2 behind Carson Wentz. But the fact that the Eagles didn’t bring in a more experienced veteran after Wentz went down last year pretty much tells you all you need to know about what the Eagles think of him. 

We tried that. Didn’t work out well. We’re up for suggestions. 

You have no idea how out of water this fish is. This is like taking a fish from the ocean and dropping it in Kansas. 

How about Portugal? I’ll go with them because of Ronaldo. 

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

Where should Carson Wentz land on NFL's top 10 list?

We now officially know Carson Wentz will be somewhere in the top 10 of the NFL Network’s top 100 players of 2018. 

We just don’t know where he’ll land. 

As far as the other Eagles on the list, the Super Bowl champions weren’t extremely well-represented: 68. Zach Ertz, 69. Fletcher Cox, 95. Lane Johnson, 96. Malcolm Jenkins. 

Before tearing his ACL and LCL on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles, it seemed like Wentz was on his way to an MVP season. In 13 games, Wentz threw for over 3,200 yards and a franchise-record 33 touchdown passes. 

Wentz is the only player in the top 10 who has never been anywhere on the top 100 list before. Can he go from off the list to No. 1?

Here’s the list of players (in alphabetical order) who will be unveiled in the top 10 on Monday night. 

  • Le'Veon Bell 
  • Tom Brady 
  • Drew Brees 
  • Antonio Brown
  • Aaron Donald 
  • Todd Gurley
  • Julio Jones 
  • Von Miller 
  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Carson Wentz

In the comments below, leave your top 10 in order. We’ll see how close everyone can get. 

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