July 27, 2023
The Eagles lost the Super Bowl. It happened. It stung. But Wednesday down at the NovaCare Complex marked the start of a new year, and a new mission.
They want to make it back, absolutely. And this time, they want to win.
But if one thing was made clear on the first day of training camp, it's that "back" isn't where the Eagles are looking, only forward.
"We've moved on," Jalen Hurts said after camp's first practice of February's defeat to the Chiefs. "Everything is a learning experience, but right now it's about setting an identity for what this team will be. That's my main thing."
And the main thing from the top on down.
Look, making it to the Super Bowl is hard. Returning to it, after losing it, historically has proven even more so.
There's no leaning on the past for comfort here, not that head coach Nick Sirianni was about to let his team do that anyway.
"You know the stats of it and everything like that," Sirianni said. "But let me make this first point perfectly clear: The goal right now, right this second, is not to get back to the Super Bowl. That's not our goal...Our goal is to get better today. You can't win two games unless you win one, so our goal is to get better today and to get ready for our first game against New England. That's it. We'll take those things day-by-day in how we got about our process."
Nor was GM Howie Roseman about to let the past dictate what happens next, because there's no going back, only forward.
"I think every situation is different," Roseman said. "For our situation, and the messaging that starts with coach, it's about 'This is a different year,' and we gotta do everything we possibly can to maximize this team, this moment.
"Whatever we've done in the past doesn't matter. It's what we do going forward. So from a roster-building standpoint, from a personnel-building standpoint, we can't just rely on what's happened to other teams that have lost the Super Bowl. We have to do what we think is in the best interest [for us] to reset, start over, and put us in the best possible position. I think that's the mindset, and that's the mindset from our coaching staff and from our players, that none of what we've done in the past matters, none of what anyone else has done in the past matters. We gotta start from scratch and keep our process in place and give us the best possible opportunity to have a good season."
But to Roseman's credit, and Sirianni's, they do have the Eagles, on paper, set up pretty well.
Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson all returned as the core four, and other major veteran presences like Darius Slay and James Bradberry are back too. Hurts – fresh off an MVP-caliber season and the signing of a blockbuster contract – is readying up for year 3 as the full-time starting QB, now as one of the league's best and with star receiver A.J. Brown back for more, a DeVonta Smith on the cusp of the league's elite, the NFL's best offensive line returning intact, arguably the best tight end (not named Travis Kelce) in Dallas Goedert, and a loaded running back room operating by committee.
Supplementing the established names also is a youth movement led by the influx of Georgia Bulldogs the Eagles drafted over the last two years in Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Jalen Carter, and Nolan Smith, and on top of it all, the team as a whole reported almost completely healthy.
Jalen Hurts: "If you fail, you want to fail forward." pic.twitter.com/zZyLPmwuJR— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 26, 2023
Look, the first day of camp never decides a team's fate, but teams have definitely reported in July following a Super Bowl run in far worse shape, and just by comparison, so far so good for the Eagles.
Plus, it's probably going to help that the old guard still left from the 2017 run will have some sort of idea of how to navigate the road ahead, even if this time around doesn't come with the title of "defending champs."
"As far as mentally, you got to prepare yourself because you're going to get everybody's best shot," Johnson said. "And going into the season, you have high expectations, so you really gotta quiet the noise, you really gotta focus on your job, you gotta limit the distractions, and you really gotta make that well known throughout the team because, yeah, people are gonna be coming for us. But we're gunning for them too."