February 07, 2023
Monday night saw cameras and microphones everywhere and the lights brighter than ever.
There's a game to be played here at the end of the week, but not before a few solid days of buildup to lead into an already hyped-up Super Bowl matchup between the Eagles and Chiefs.
It started on the big stage of the Super Bowl's opening media night, but the Eagles were the same as they ever were.
Brandon Graham was all smiles like always.
Jalen Hurts was as composed as he ever was.
And Darius Slay?
.@bigplay24slay is something else 😂#SuperBowlLVII | #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/GmHsNuTAMV— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) February 7, 2023
Graham is ready to be back on the football's biggest stage again and tight end Dallas Goedert is here for the first time ready to leave his mark.
But there was a lot going on at once Monday night, so here's a rundown of what else was going on around the floor:
Probably safe to say that no one had Jalen Hurts leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl when they took him in the second round of the draft going on three years ago.
Still, here we are, and after getting this far and playing this well, the 24-year old quarterback is going to be due for a hefty payday soon.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, however, appears to have no reservations about opening up the checkbook, even so soon after the Carson Wentz era fell apart.
Wrote NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank on the matter:
Hurts has “nothing to prove,” owner Jeffrey Lurie said in an interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio at Super Bowl Media Day Monday at the Footprint Center.
“He’s just what we’re looking for.”
Of course the Eagles just went through this. Less than four years ago, they gave Carson Wentz a four-year, $128 million contract that included the largest amount of guaranteed money ever given out ($107 million).
Less than two years later, Hurts had replaced Wentz as the Eagles’ quarterback and the Eagles had to eat the largest amount of dead money in NFL history ($33.8 million) when they traded him to the Colts.
But Lurie has no reservations about opening up the bank vaults for a young quarterback twice in just a few years, and he shouldn’t because at least based on the way Hurts has performed and led this franchise, there’s no reason to think history will repeat itself. [NBCSP]
And in the same vein as Hurts, who had Nick Sirianni coaching the Eagles to the Super Bowl when he was first introduced in that awkward press conference during a still very uncertain (for the Eagles and the world in general) January of 2021?
"No way," most thought as he stumbled through his first talk with the media. But in hindsight, the plan to bring the Eagles back to success was always there. He laid the whole thing out for us, we were just too concerned over the delivery of it.
Wrote Bo Wulf over at The Athletic:
Two years later to the day, Sirianni’s Eagles booked their trip to the Super Bowl with a 31-7 win in the NFC Championship Game. That capped off a season in which the team went 14-1 with its starting quarterback, earned the conference’s No. 1 seed and outscored opponents 69-14 in two playoff wins.
Turns out the joke was on us.
No team over the past two seasons has outpaced its preseason projected win totals more than Philadelphia. Through rock-paper-scissors scouting, flower analogies and accusations of being on a “free ride,” Sirianni has reworked his offense, empowered his staff and fostered a culture that’s now the envy of the league. He’s like a locker room savant.
He also happened to lay out the secrets to his success during that first news conference, if only we had bothered to listen. [The Athletic]
No matter what happens, Sunday night will be a history-making matchup, one that will have a ripple effect on football for years to come when Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes become the first black quarterbacks to face off in the Super Bowl.
Said Hurts, via Tyler Dragon's observations from opening night:
Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are the first Black quarterbacks to go head-to-head in the Super Bowl. Hurts said he hasn’t fully digested the magnitude and significance of the accomplishment, but called the feat special.
“It can be done. The game has evolved. Times are changing," Hurts said. "Obviously being part of something so historic and making history. You talk about breaking records and being the first to do this, but I think this is something on a whole different level. A whole different magnitude holds a different type of weight.
"I don’t know if I really have digested and kind of understand what’s going on just yet. But maybe later on. But obviously, for my parents and my grandparents, this is something that isn’t normal. It’s special.” [USA Today]
Outlets everywhere, us included, are going to be breaking down the Super Bowl matchup in every which way imaginable up until kickoff, and that's going to yield some really deep dives into the numbers.
Sheil Kapadia over at The Ringer came back up to the surface with an interesting note in his 25-point Super Bowl cheat sheet:
25. I think it’s pretty wild how much the Chiefs have leaned on their rookies this year, compared to the Eagles. Chiefs rookies have piled up 4,087 snaps on offense and defense through 19 games—that’s more than four times as many snaps as Eagles rookies (989)! Part of that has to do with the injury luck mentioned above.
Experience can sometimes be overrated. Coaches often point to the “they don’t know what they don’t know” theory when describing young players in big games. And the Chiefs rookies have come through in big spots. But the disparity is interesting nonetheless. The makeup of the two rosters that will be competing for the Lombardi Trophy is very different. [The Ringer]
Now, experience in the Super Bowl is a fickle point of emphasis to argue over because the reality is, even with established veterans, few players have been here before.
Still, maybe something to keep an eye on.
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