Eight Eagles from the Super Bowl 52 roster remain with the team. They’ve been through the fire. They know the massive amount of work necessary to win at this level. They’ve felt the enormous pressure of being 60 minutes away from fulfilling their lifelong dream.
Four were starters: Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox.
Four others got snaps: Derek Barnett, Isaac Seumalo, Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato.
The other players haven’t felt this kind of pressure in Philadelphia. This isn’t Week Nine in Houston. This is Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the powerful 49ers.
The other players are leaning on their ring-wearing comrades to help prepare for the most important game of their lives.
Jalen Hurts believes in what the Eagles have done all season.
- “I’m leaning on what we’ve done,” Hurts said.
- “I’m leaning on the team that we’ve built ourself to be. I’m leaning on the process that we have for ourself.”
Graham, who had the greatest strip-sack in Eagles’ history when he caused Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s fumble late in the Super Bowl, is all-business this week.
- “Treat it like a regular week,” Graham said. “Stay consistent on your regimen of what you do … We know we’re one game away.
- “There’s no pressure. We’ve been working our butt off for this moment. All we got to do is stay consistent with what we’ve been doing.
- “When you’re out there practicing making sure that you’re paying attention to the details that you did last week. It’s just a focus on what you got to do.
- “Our game plan has to be carried out on Sunday but we have to work on it during the week.”
ROOKIE COACH, VETERAN LEADERSHIP
When Nick Sirianni arrived in 2021, he inherited a 4-11-1 team, three years removed from winning the Super Bowl. But he had veteran leaders who could lead a rebuild from within.
- “I said I wasn’t like other first-year head coaches,” Sirianni said. “I had these unbelievable players that have been to the mountaintop that have played in this league for 10-plus years, two on the offensive line [Kelce, Johnson], two on the defensive line [Cox, Graham] …
- “That’s a huge, huge advantage to have those leaders on your football team.
- “We’ve got great leaders and they lead the way with how you practice, with how you prepare, how you play in any game, and they’ve been in this game.”
Dallas Goedert was drafted less than three months after the Super Bowl. He went from a rookie who played 48 percent of the offensive snaps to one of the league’s top tight ends.
- “Obviously coming here right after the Super Bowl, the whole team right away had high expectations,” Goedert said.
- “They got there and the thing was we wanted to do it again. It took us quite a few years but just coming to a team and seeing how close they were, how much fun they had the year before, it was obviously something that a lot of people wanted to do.
- “Now that we have that opportunity we’re getting closer and closer to that time, we’re leaning on the people that were there before to take us to the homeland again … Use their experience to help us make it even further.”
Kelce is one of the team’s leaders and Goedert said the center’s guidance and knowledge are helping the Eagles get ready for the match-up between the NFC’s top two teams.
- “Kelce probably says it best: You got to continue to be you,” Goedert said. “But at the same time you got to prepare harder, you gotta pay attention to the little details.
- “You got to find an edge because at this time you know with four teams left you’re going to be playing against good players, you’re going to be playing against good schemes …
- “Just finding little ways to be able to be more detailed than the opposing team or just find little things that can help you play faster.
- “Kelce is a prime example of that. He’s always got something that he can point out — what the defense is going to do, why they’re going to do it and just having smart players like them on the team is huge.”
Hurts on his SC joint sprain in his right shoulder: “I’ve felt better but don’t really matter. Gotta get it done.”
Hurts played well against the Giants in the divisional playoff game. He had two weeks of rest before that game. If the Eagles win Sunday, he’ll get another two weeks of rest.
- “It’s just preparing yourself,” Hurts said about playing with an injury.
- “I think you can prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and physically so that’s what I kinda do.”
Sirianni said the team came out of the Giants’ game in good health. Lane Johnson is “day-to-day.” He said he is “hopeful” nickel back Avonte Maddox can play Sunday.