So…things haven’t turned out exactly as planned so far for the Eagles.
The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles came into the season as a Super Bowl favorite. The roster was revamped with the return of MVP-favorite Carson Wentz and the signing of other viable additions. There was an exuberant feeling around the organization that was also matched with high hopes and expectations. But seven weeks later, the picture looks a lot different. The Eagles’ once high-powered offense has sputtered (with the exception of great play from Wentz). Also, the secondary looks to have more holes than a Packer’s cheese hat. The superpower-that-was is looking like a mess so far, and are slowly warping into the dismal 2016 outfit.
There are many questions surrounding the team right now. What’s going on with the vaunted Philly offensive line? Where has the big play ability of the offense gone? Why is the Eagles’ secondary (sans Malcolm Jenkins who has played borderline terrific) all of a sudden completely laughable? There really are no set-in-stone answers to these questions. However, one major issue with the team has been the apparent attitude of the players.
The Eagles still seem to be exhibiting a “world-beater” attitude. They’ve gone into games and played like they were still sweeping the league by storm like they were last year. They appear to still think they’re the champs. And obviously, that mentality hasn’t turned out so well.
There’s a phrase used by many affiliates of the league to describe this phenomenon called a “Super Bowl hangover”. It’s used when a team wins or plays in the Super Bowl and carries the hype and celebration all the way into the next season… where they underperform. Notable victims of the hangover include the 2015 Carolina Panthers and the 2013 San Francisco 49ers. Both whom seemingly lost very little between seasons but played significantly worse in the season following their Super Bowl appearances. I’ve had talks with a friend of mine about this phenomenon over the offseason, in which I argued that Pederson would have his guys mentally prepared to come in this season and repeat as champs. But so far, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case.
Many opposing fans want to dub last season’s results as a fluke because, well, just look at the Eagles’ record. And I’ll admit, 3-4 isn’t very good. But the team hasn’t looked as bad as the record suggests. Let me break it down: the Eagles have won by six, then lost by six, then won by four, then lost by three, then lost by two, then won by twenty-one, and today, lost by four. Philly has played teams as good as Minnesota and as underwhelming as Indianapolis, but the results have been the same against all of them. The Eagles seem overly comfortable when they have a lead, but also unwilling to put out their full potential when needing to take a lead back.
They showed a clip postgame today of the Eagles’ kickoff unit dancing on the field after going up 17-0 as if they’d already won the game. We all know what followed. The team seems comfortable with where they’re currently at, which is going to keep them where they’re at when it comes to winning football games.
It’s impossible to say that the talent level of the team has decreased because it hasn’t. Wentz has looked amazing, so has Jenkins, the defensive line has had flashes, and the team overall has shown that they still have what it takes to go back-to-back. They just need to bring back the underdog mentality from last year. And play every game like they have something to prove. The team’s recent performances have been out of character for Pederson-coached teams, but that’s not to say that the team’s playoff hopes are dead. There is plenty of time to turn it around, but it all rests on whether or not the team changes its mindset.