And that, from this perspective, is absolutely perfect. All of those questions about "pressure" and the idea of this being a "must-win" season? Just a lot of media hogwash. How much pressure is there when nobody among the field in the media is picking the Eagles to win the Super Bowl?
Truth is, none of that stuff matters. The NFL is a pressure business. Every day players fight for their jobs. You come in and loaf in practice and the coaches don't let you forget it. Nobody except for nerds like me pay a lot of attention to what the outside world says.
I , for the record, note a lot of "hate" about how the Eagles approached the offseason. If I hear another media genius like Michael Strahan compare what the Eagles have done to what the Redskins did in past seasons -- "You can't just go out and bring in great talent and expect to win," said Strahan on ESPN radio on Wednesday morning -- I'm going to scream. The Redskins, to correct history, overspent for some overrated talent. The Eagles spent smart money for talent that will come in and fill roles. Big difference.
Anyway, that's my vent for the day. Everyone acknowledges that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered here. The offensive line has been re-arranged. The linebackers are young and largely not proven. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is new to the job.
So a lot of things have to come together for the Eagles to reach the top. Every team can say the same thing. But this team starts the season with a lot of positives going for it. The talent level is significantly higher than it was last season, and for any season in recent memory. The coaching staff has experienced, proven newcomers. The core already in place was solid, good enough to win the NFC East last year, and the Eagles have stacked players since then.
It's all good, then. The stage is set for a fascinating season, and the national audience has never been greater. So what if the analysts don't expect the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. That gives this football team an even more significant chip on its collective shoulder.
NEWS, NOTES AND THIS AND THAT
- When the Eagles released cornerback Joselio Hanson, the expectation was that he would attract a lot of interest from around the league. He attracted interest from four teams, reportedly, but has returned to the Eagles and will be a valuable member of the defense and the special teams.
- I love the maturity and demeanor of center Jason Kelce, who has a chance to be a terrific, terrific player. He has already earned the trust of the coaching staff, which is huge. This just doesn't seem too large a stage for the rookie sixth-round draft pick. It's going to be interesting to see the growth he shows starting Sunday in St. Louis.
- Wednesday is a closed practice as the coaches give the players the game plan and they dig in for the Rams. The Eagles will practice inside and once again work with a lot of noise to prepare for the Edward Jones Dome chaos.
- Dion Lewis returns kickoffs and DeSean Jackson returns punts against the Rams. Sounds like the return game is in pretty good hands, don't you think? I absolutely can't wait to see Lewis get his hands on the football, and Jackson is a potential game breaker every time he touches the football.