It was another eye-popping performance from Jalen Hurts on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, and he was rewarded with NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for a second game in a row. It's time to buckle up because there are three NFC East games on the horizon, beginning this week against the Giants. As the Birds prepare for a division rival, I'll bring you inside the locker room and around the NovaCare Complex with all the latest from your 11-1 Eagles.
BRADBERRY AND JOSEPH SAY HELLO TO BIG BLUE
Cornerback James Bradberry will make his return to MetLife Stadium since the Giants released him this past offseason. He played two seasons in New York recording over 100 total tackles, seven interceptions, and 35 passes defended in 32 games, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2020.
He has been one of the best free agent additions to the Eagles' defense – a lockdown corner. His debut in Eagles green included a pick-six on Lions quarterback Jared Goff in Week 1. Since then, he ranks 2nd in the NFL in passes defended and opponent passer rating. He also ranks 3rd in opponent completion percentage with 45.5%.
The tandem of him and Slay has created a formidable back unit that most offenses have struggled to overcome. Sirianni also reported that Bradberry was the team's Player of the Game against Tennessee due to his stellar performance.
This week Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon said, "James Bradberry's football character, you would put it up against anybody in the world. Glad we have him."
For Bradberry's part, there are no hard feelings. New York had to make a business decision in May due to cap space struggles, and the cornerback is happy to be in Philadelphia.
He asked the media, "What's our record right now?" Someone responded, "11-1." He repeated, "11-1. So I've just been focused on playing for the Eagles, I really haven't been worried about the Giants. But I am excited to go out there and play a divisional game, and compete, and get a win."
His partner in crime, Slay, joked at his locker this week that he doesn't know why New York let Bradberry walk out of the building, but he's sure glad they did.
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph will also meet his former team. In his four seasons in New York (2010-13), he played in 53 games and recorded nine sacks. Nine seasons later, he finds himself on the other side of the rivalry.
"I just want to see what they're going to do. I haven't been back in a long time, so curious to see the atmosphere and just excited about this game," Joseph said.
A CULTURE-DEFINING PICTURE
Jalen Hurts will return to the scene where he statistically played his worst game in the NFL. It was Week 12 in 2021 when he threw three interceptions, injured his ankle, and the Birds lost 13-7.
Reflecting on that day, Hurts kept it short, saying he walked away from that game the same way he does any game, "Learn from the bad, learn from the good, and move on."
In a follow-up question, he did take us behind the curtain a little more: "I've always said the teachable moments just don't have to come from the worst or bad experiences. They can come from the positive ones as well. I've tried to never be too high or too low with that."
When Sirianni was asked about that day in December, he cited a specific photo that caught a lot of attention following the final play of the game. It's Jalen Hurts bent forward, head looking down, with his hands on his knees. Left tackle Jordan Mailata is beside him with his hand on Hurts' back.
Sirianni said this photo has been hanging in the facility because it represents the culture of this team.
"I thought, what an unbelievable picture of teammates being there for each other in a time of a very tough spot, right?" Sirianni said. "That just speaks to the type of guys we have. That just speaks to the type of team we have."
Mailata says he'll never forget that moment. "At the end of the day, we want to get wins and that result, when you know you've given everything – I just wanted him to know he wasn't alone, it wasn't on him."
Hurts is a different quarterback heading to New York than he was last year. He said this week, "there's no arrival, only the journey," and the journey to 12-1 continues on Sunday.
'THE ICING ON THE ICING' FOR BRANDON GRAHAM
This week, the Eagles announced defensive end Brandon Graham as the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Our Eagles Entertainment team produced a magnificent piece to showcase the people BG has impacted over years. It was a moving video that perfectly captured the man who wears #55.
Graham reflected on the nomination, saying the organization caught him off guard – it's never something he expected.
"I'm thankful that the Eagles nominated me – it just made me want to roll my sleeves up and just keep going, just keep being me, because you definitely don't know who you touch in moments of just giving your time," he said.
Anyone who's ever played with Graham, worked alongside him, or had a quick interaction, can all agree that BG is always smiling, always positive, and always makes you feel like the only person in the room.
"I've accomplished a lot in this league so far, and that's the icing on the icing," Graham said. "Just to be in that talk, even if I don't win, I'm just thankful for being a nominee."
But in typical Brandon Graham fashion, he did say, with his famous BG laugh, "Bring that dub back!"
GET YOUR EAGLES TO THE PRO BOWL
'Tis the season for Pro Bowl voting! Cast your vote via Twitter using the hashtag #ProBowlVote with the player's name or here on PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
Right now, Jason Kelce, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, Darius Slay, Landon Dickerson, Zech McPhearson, Jalen Hurts, Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata, Javon Hargrave, Rick Lovato, and A.J. Brown are in the Top 10 of voting for their positions.
Not seeing your favorite player on the list? Do you think these players should be ranked higher? Be sure to vote, vote, vote!
CRADLES TO CRAYONS
This week, Eagles players volunteered at Cradles to Crayons' Giving Factory Warehouse, a place committed to providing necessary items for children to thrive. The group of players spent the time sorting donations and packaging children's clothing kits.
Executive Director Michal Smith of Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia says they're busier than they've ever been at the Warehouse. She shared that there are over 300,000 kids living in poverty in the Greater Philadelphia region. Right now, they serve 230,000 children annually. In order to serve every kid in need four times a year, the organization would need 1.2 million packages to distribute.
She shared stories of sisters who have to share a winter coat and kids who go to school without supplies. If children were provided with everyday items, they would have a greater chance to succeed. Smith said their confidence and academic performance improve dramatically when they receive necessary items.
"What we're doing is acting as a launching pad for families," Smith said. "If a mom doesn't have diapers, she can't leave her kid in daycare and she can't go to work or go to school, so she can't advance herself."
Smith was thrilled to welcome Eagles players who were eager to lend a hand.
Safety Reed Blankenship said, "We want to be role models in this city. Just being able to be here, doing stuff for the city, showing a positive impact we can have means a lot. It brings a lot of positivity into this place – that's what we love to do."
"The fact is is that every time the Eagles is involved with any initiative, and particularly the work that they've done with us, it's been grounded in solid work to help kids."