February 07, 2018
On Wednesday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson got a chance to talk to his players as a group for the first time since the locker room after beating the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. It's been a busy couple of days for the players and coaches alike, but before they cleaned out their lockers at the NovaCare Complex, Pederson delivered an important message to his team.
It was part congratulations and part warning, but it was more than that. It was also a strong statement about the future he sees for the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Well, these guys are well-deserving of everything they're going to be exposed to over the next couple of weeks and couple of months," Pederson said while meeting with the media for the final time this season. "And there's a side to success that's not the glamorous side. It's the side that's going to hold out in OTAs, that's going to want the next big contract, who's going to miss this or that for an endorsement deal, and autograph signing. That's the not-so-glamorous side of success. That was a little bit of the messaging this morning to the guys.
"I told them, I said, 'If you want, get used to this; this is the new norm in Philadelphia, playing into February every year. It's the new norm, so get used to it.' ... The guys that want to be a part of that, they'll do that, they'll want to be here. And I think everybody does want to be here. But, as you know, the nature of the business is that you can't keep everybody. That's just the way it goes. But the ones that are here, my mindset is to be back [in the Super Bowl] again, to do it again, and to keep doing it and keep doing it.
"I'll hold myself accountable; I'm just like the players. I can't accept every deal that's out there; I can't agree to every speaking engagement out there, because my goal is to win another [Super Bowl] and if my time is spent doing other things, than that's not the focus. That's where we're at right now as a team."
Let's hear that one more time...
"I told them, I said, 'If you want, get used to this; this is the new norm in Philadelphia, playing into February every year. It's the new norm, so get used to it.'"
That's right, less than 72 hours removed from winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history, Pederson already has his sights set on winning another, despite the trappings that come with the dark side of success he warned his players about during their final meeting.
The good news for Pederson is that his team has shown time and time again this season that its players are anything but selfish. At least, that's the case on the field and in the locker room. The Eagles don't really have any superstars, at least not statistically. On offense, they didn't have a 1,000-yard rusher or receiver (not even combined). No running back had more than 175 carries and no receiver had more than 75 receptions. On defense, no player reached 10 sacks on the season.
Instead, they got contributions from everyone. And complaints, well, from no one.
Take LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi for example, both of whom were starters with their previous teams and both of whom saw their touches per game take massive hits in 2017. In
some most locker rooms, sore egos might prevail. That's not the case with the Eagles.
"I do appreciate [how hard it is to build a team like this]," Pederson said. "That's exactly what I told the football team this morning. Just a lot of unselfish players. Guys could complain about not having enough targets as a receiver. I've told you guys this before, I've got two starting running backs that are sharing time and neither one of them have complained on offense.
"It just shows the character of the guys, the unselfishness, and the willingness to just get the job done and to win. Now they sit here today sort of reaping those rewards, and that's what it's all about."
Like I told them, this team is inked in NFL history and Philadelphia Eagles history, forever. That will never be the same again.
With so many starters and locker room leaders locked up for next season, that shouldn't change, right?
Not exactly, Pederson admitted. He knows this moment is fleeting and no matter how hard he tries to recreate the things that made the 2017 Eagles a special team, they won't be the same team next season. For better or worse, they'll be the 2018 Eagles.
It goes back to that not-so-glamorous side of success he warned his team about earlier in the day.
"It's going to be unique to this football team," he said of their unselfishness. "I can't tell you what the 2018 team is going to look like because, as you know, free agency is a big part of that, and the draft – people come and go. So, 2018 will be a lot different but I think the messaging can be very consistent and stay along those same lines."
For the time being, however, Pederson wants his players to enjoy their moment. Because although he believes February football is "the new norm" in Philly, he knows bringing this city its first Super Bowl is something that will only happen once.
"I think, just again, the stories that I hear in the community that I've heard the last couple of days and just to see the team again today," Pederson said when asked to give his most special moment since the game ended. "This is the first time we've been together, really, since the game," Pederson added. "Just the joy and the excitement and just knowing that kind of what we've been through this year, is a pretty special thing.
"Like I told them, this team is inked in NFL history and Philadelphia Eagles history, forever. That will never be the same again. It will change as of, probably after the parade tomorrow – everything, dynamics change. So just having that moment today with the guys and just kind of revisiting it is a pretty special thing."
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