THE week is here, and it can't come a moment too soon. The Eagles have their full sights set on the New England Patriots and the regular-season opener on September 10 and for those of you who have spent the last few months under a beach umbrella immersed in the right kind of trashy beach novel series, here is what you need to know as Philadelphia begins the long grind of a 17-game slate.
First of all, welcome back. It's been a minute.
Happy to report that the Eagles reloaded the roster for 2023 and that they have the perfect mindset as they go about the business of starting the season the right way.
"Different ways to handle success," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "For us, it's just to maintain focus on the here and the now and what's in front of us and not get carried away about the 'What ifs.' I know it's fun to do sometimes but ... I think it just goes down to execution."
Johnson was answering a question about the NFC East and the odd fact that no team has repeated as division champion since the Eagles did it from 2001-04. Back then, as you may remember, the Eagles reached the NFC Championship Game in all of those seasons – they broke through by reaching Super Bowl XXXIX in the '04 season.
This team is new. Fresh. The past doesn't matter. That's just how they're thinking.
"Last year is last year and we're trying to create something special this year," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "Our focus is on what we're doing now and I know we are all excited about getting it going."
They're getting it going with an offense that returns largely intact, with some notable and promising exceptions. Second-year man Cam Jurgens took control of the starting right guard job from the very start of Training Camp and has gotten more comfortable with every practice repetition. The picture at running back is quite a bit different as well, with new players Rashaad Penny (power back, downhill ground gainer) and D'Andre Swift (explosive in space, potentially used quite a bit in passing game) joining holdovers Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott in that room. And there is a new wide receiver in town – Olamide Zaccheaus (call him O.Z.) who can help move the chains, with yards after the catch and with his physical blocking in the running game.
The stars return – quarterback Jalen Hurts is now signed through the 2028 season, wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith look to duplicate their incredible 2022 performances, tight end Dallas Goedert is in his prime, and the offensive line has four starters back and great depth working step in step with Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland.
Something new? Brian Johnson is the offensive coordinator but everyone knows him, respects him, and understands his offensive philosophy, as he's been the quarterbacks coach the previous two seasons and is in lockstep with Head Coach Nick Sirianni.
The defense has some unknowns with new looks at linebacker and safety, but that's kind of the norm in the NFL from season to season. New coordinator Sean Desai thinks his front seven is special as the Eagles added defensive tackle Jalen Carter with the ninth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and came right back at pick No. 30 overall and selected edge player Nolan Smith. Both players are from the University of Georgia and are two of the five Bulldogs the Eagle have selected (defensive tackle Jordan Davis and Dean from 2021 and Carter, Smith, and cornerback Kelee Ringo in the 2022 NFL Draft) in the last two springs. The "Dawg Mentality" that Sirianni talks about? It's gone to a new level for 2023 ...
And, as we speak here, there are still some out there wondering who is going to punt on Sunday and who the returner, but the team has its plan and has clarity. The team handled its shorter-than-normal offseason (link to https://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/eagles-jon-ferrari-its-about-putting-the-players-first) exceedingly well and with understanding and a long vision, and they're at the NovaCare Complex seven days away from the opener healthy, refreshed, and focused only on beating the Patriots and reaching 1-0.
Nobody is looking back.
Nobody is looking ahead.
"It's what we do every day that matters," quarterback Jalen Hurts said. "Getting better every day. That's the mindset here and we'll see how things transpire with this football team. We're working hard each and every day. That's where we're at."
It's a new year and a new team and for any of you who've taken the last few months to get away, welcome back. The NovaCare Complex is buzzing. The City of Philadelphia is lit. The 2023 Eagles regular season is upon us and, hey, isn't everyone just a whole lot happier because of it?!