October 08, 2017
Following his team's 34-7 win over the Cardinals on Sunday, head coach Doug Pederson was asked what a win like this – one that came despite several injuries, not to mention was preceded by two close wins and will be followed by a short week of practice – says about his 4-1 Eagles team.
It had to be a question he was expecting.
But before giving his first post-game answer, Pederson took a long pause, gathered himself, and then gave a mission statement of sorts for how the Eagles go about their business.
“I know this about our football team – and it’s been this way for a year and a half now – it doesn’t matter what happens with injuries on our roster," Pederson said. "The coaches do an outstanding job of getting that next guy ready to play. Obviously, coming into this season, I think in the back of your mind, you hope and you want to be a good football team; everyone aspires to be a good football team.
"But the way we’re doing it, with the amount of backup players in these first five weeks, is a testament to the coaching staff and the players in that dressing room, the resiliency they have to never quit, to never finish.”
Against the Cardinals, the game was never really in doubt, as the Eagles were up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter thanks to three touchdown passes from Carson Wentz, who along with Pederson, improved to 8-2 at home dating back to the start of last season.
It was exactly the kind of performance Eagles fans
wanted needed to see, and it will likely vault the Eagles onto the list of "contenders" in the minds of most NFL analysts and fans alike.
"We're still getting better. We're never satisfied. We're a great football team, in my opinion," said wideout Nelson Agholor, whose 72-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter put the game out of reach. "We're a football team that has room to grow as individuals and as a whole. You'll never play a perfect game, but you want to strive for perfection.
"We want to grow each week and we want to be competitive. I feel like we're a competitive team. We have a lot of great, selfless players on this team."
They did more than compete on Sunday. They dominated.
“It is [important] to get a dominant win like this," Pederson said. "It’s good for the football team as a whole. It’s good to score touchdowns, which we failed to do last week. And then the big plays on offense, I think those were key in this game. But to have one of these performances is great for the guys in the locker room, coaches and players.”
Aside from the injuries they were able to overcome, the biggest thing (obviously) is what it means in the standings. Depending on how the Cowboys game plays out, they could put two full games between themselves and the rest of the NFC East, thanks to a Giants loss and a Redskins bye.
Still, to do it with so much style – dare I say, SWAG – in front of a home crowd, with the 4-1 Panthers up next on Thursday Night Football, meant something to Pederson.
“It’s big for a couple reasons," Pederson said. "One, in front of our fans, back at home. We haven’t had too many of these games at home yet and this is our second one. The crowd did an outstanding job for us. I love to see them here early and then staying late. Great to get the win at home. It just gives you momentum, even on a short week. It’s a little bit of a shot in the arm going forward this week.
We all have an idea of where we want to go as a team, and four wins isn't it. So we have a lot more to accomplish, a lot more work to do.
"Again, it’s really a short-lived victory because we’re back to work tomorrow. But we’ve just got to ride this wave and keep it going.”
In describing his postgame message to his players, Pederson used words like "proud," "team effort" and "dominating." But despite the Eagles' best performance of the season – on both sides of the ball – with such a short turnaround, he also said he told them to come ready to work on Monday.
"We all have an idea of where we want to go as a team, and four wins isn't it. So we have a lot more to accomplish, a lot more work to do," said safety Malcolm Jenkins. "We know it's hard to win in this league and we enjoy every win we get. But at the end of the day, when you work really, really hard – you've prepared – we expect to win. We expect a lot more than four wins, so we have some work to do."
If Jenkins and the Eagles have their way, a few more wins and that wave of momentum Pederson mentioned could transform from a ripple to a full-on midnight green tsunami.
“I think the sky’s the limit," Pederson added. "Sky’s the limit. The key is just staying grounded and staying focused on our next game."
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