Doug Pederson stood at the microphone on the steps of the art museum in Philadelphia. He faced a rambunctious sea of Eagles fans from all over the country. The city was celebrating the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia Eagles history. A franchise that had seen so much talent over the years, yet could never break through with a championship. That drought was over. Things would be different now. As Pederson closed his speech, he left with a remark that has stuck with the organization in the five years since that day.
“This is our new norm. To be playing football in February.”
How true it seemed at the time.
Instead, things began to break apart over the next few seasons. Their franchise QB, Carson Wentz, struggled to regain his MVP form. Much of the core from that championship season either played elsewhere, retired, or declined. The hopes for an Eagles dynasty were all but over heading into the 2020 season. This proved accurate, as the team finished last in the NFC East. In the offseason, Wentz was traded to Indianapolis. Pederson was fired. That, “new norm,” Pederson had spoken of seemed to be dead, not even 3 years later.
Perhaps we just needed a little bit of patience.
Give credit where it is due. General Manager Howie Roseman was public enemy number one in Philadelphia after 2020. Horrendous draft picks, trades and signings over the past few years assisted in the Eagles’ downfall. Then, he redeemed himself. Roseman looked a dire situation in the eyes and conquered it. Over the next two offseasons, Roseman used a combination of great drafting, trades and signings to create the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles: one of the most dominant teams in NFL history.
Jalen Hurts developing into an MVP-level QB has been the catalyst to this team’s success. He has elite receiving from newcomers like A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith. Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson, two players still remaining from the 2017 Super Bowl season, continue to anchor the offensive line. Free-agent signee Haason Reddick has been the star of the defensive line. Players like James Bradberry, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Kyzir White, who fell into the Eagles’ lap during the offseason, have helped make the defense as reliable as the Eagles have seen in a long time.
It’s almost not even fair.
The Eagles went 14-3 and got the first seed in the playoffs. They demolished the Giants in the Divisional round. They humiliated the 49ers in the NFC Championship. And now, guess what the Eagles will be doing next?
Playing football in February. It’s their new norm.
People will say the Eagles had an easy road to the Super Bowl. This may be true, but it doesn’t matter. The Eagles have outplayed their opponents in every aspect of the game, all season long. If you’re the opponent, and you see the Eagles bringing their A-game, you might as well go home. Because when this Eagles team plays to their potential, they are unbeatable.
The Eagles will play Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. It will be their greatest test all season. It will require them to play at their A-game. For long-tenured players like Kelce, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, this could be the swansong to their illustrious Eagles careers. They went through the highs and the lows, and now they have one last shot to do what Pederson believed they could do.
Whatever happens on Super Bowl Sunday, the turnaround the Eagles have had is incredible. It’s been a wild five years since their last Super Bowl. And yet, after everything that’s happened, it’s all come full circle.
It’s good to be back.
“Philly Sports Rundown,” written by Jon Wenger, takes you through the ride of Philly sports each week. Wenger discusses the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, or Flyers, as they look to bring a championship home to Philadelphia.