The Birds are back from the bye, and it's time for a Battle of Pennsylvania. I take you inside the locker room and around the NovaCare Complex as the Eagles look to go 7-0 for the second time in franchise history against the Steelers on Sunday.
HARD TO BEAT THE EAST
The NFC East is currently the best division in the league with a combined record of 20-7. While the Eagles were off this week, the three other teams all collected wins. The division is tough and leaves very little breathing room for the Birds who sit atop.
"We let the chips fall where they may at the end," wide receiver A.J. Brown reflected. "We are just trying to focus on what we gotta focus on right now and that's the Steelers and that's winning."
For veteran players, they know how to manage the outside noise and how to maintain a level-headed mentality.
"We'll get to them when we get to them," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "But everybody's playing good ball in the NFC East. It's gonna come out to the end."
Center Jason Kelce has tunnel vision when it comes to how teams are playing around them.
"We're going to have to continue to get better regardless of what the conference is, regardless of who we play – every team is going to continue to get better throughout the course of the season, so I don't really worry too much about standings and rankings at this point in the season. I'm just really just focused on trying to get better as a team, as a group."
The Eagles are 2-0 against the NFC East so far this season, and will host the Commanders on Monday Night Football in just a few weeks.
Both the Eagles' offense and defense enter Sunday's game ranked No. 1 in turnovers. The offense has just two giveaways, while the defense has 14 takeaways. The +12 turnover differential is the best by any team through six games since the Chiefs in 2013.
For both sides of the ball, it's great news! The offense is playing clean and protecting the football, while the defense is shredding opposing passing games. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin told Philly media this week that competing against the tandem of Eagles' cornerbacks is chess not checkers.
On the other hand, the Steelers' offense is towards the bottom of the league in turnovers. In four games, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett has thrown seven interceptions and just two touchdowns. If the Eagles' defense keeps doing what it has been doing through six games, Pickett – an Ocean Township, New Jersey native – may receive a warm welcome to the NFL by the Philly faithful at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
BIRDS AND BEARS MAKE A DEAL
Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman made a midseason splash, trading a 2023 fourth-round pick to Chicago in exchange for All-Pro defensive end Robert Quinn.
The veteran pass-rusher has 102 career sacks, a career-best 18.5 sacks recorded in 2021. Quinn signed with the Bears in April 2020 and has also played for the Rams, Dolphins, and Cowboys during his 12-year NFL career. He now joins a top-5 defense here in Philadelphia.
Offensive and defensive players alike were thrilled to welcome the newest addition.
"He just bolstered us up even more – the way people gotta pick and choose who's the hot guy, you can't just key in on one guy. I'm excited to definitely have him," said Brandon Graham.
Former Eagle Chris Long played alongside Quinn in St. Louis. Long shared with Graham that the Eagles received a "cool guy" who works really hard.
For his part, Quinn spoke humbly at the podium for the first time on Thursday saying his focus is the learning the playbook and earning the trust of his new teammates: "They created this record before I got here." He wants to make an impact any way he can for this defense.
There was also a lot of talk about maintaining a fresh defensive front. With more players in the rotation, guys stepping onto the field will be more energized and ready to attack.
"His addition just adds another good player to the system amongst a group of guys that can already get after the passer," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "And then you add another guy and that's just more fresh legs coming after the quarterback, which to me is one of the most important positions in football."
BROTHERLY LOVE ON BROAD
Superstitious? That's Jordan Mailata. The left tackle joked this week that he will not be attending a World Series game because every time he's previously gone to Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies have lost. So instead, you could catch him singing the Phillies' postseason anthem, "Dancing On My Own" around the locker room.
When A.J. Brown was asked about the Phillies' success, he said, "I don't understand why people are still pitching to Bryce Harper."
The Eagles are certainly excited about what's to come for their neighbors and are reveling in the energy bubbling through the city right now. Whether it's Kelce shotgunning a beer on the diamond, or hums of "Dancing On My Own" throughout the locker room, there is no doubt the Birds will be cheering on the Fightins from across the street.
INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF FANS
This week, Eagles tight ends Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra joined the students at William Hunter Elementary School for a Mobile Jr. Pro Clinic. The pair assisted in warmups, football drills, and participated in a Q&A session.
These clinics are designed with the intention to create a pipeline towards longevity in football. The hope is that through increased access to sports, kids will have an outlet to take them away from the challenges that plague their communities.
"Some of the biggest connections I have in my life are because I played football," Stoll said. "Whether it was youth, high school, college, or even with the Eagles here. So that's the biggest thing for me is become a better football player teaches you how to live life, how to handle adversity, stuff like that. I think it's a huge thing to bridge the gap and letting kids see what that's about – it's awesome."