Head Coach Nick Sirianni typically reviews film before giving out game balls – but upon entering the locker room following the team's 29-17 win against the Houston Texans, he'd already chosen the recipients.
The first ball went to Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie in celebration of the team's best start in franchise history. The win elevated the Eagles' record to 8-0 – a feat that Philadelphia has never attained before.
The next ball deservedly went to defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who sacked Houston quarterback Davis Mills three times on Thursday night. His performance boosted his total to an impressive five sacks in the last four days.
"He had three sacks. He had three quarterback hits. He had three tackles for loss," Sirianni announced in front of the team before tossing him the ball.
Hargrave stepped up in the absence of Jordan Davis, who was placed on Injured Reserve ahead of the game due to an ankle injury. He took 68% of snaps, rotating across the defensive line.
"I think it's really fun to play every position. Out there, you get different looks in all of them, and it was working today, and I was out there having fun," said Hargrave, who leads the team with six sacks on the season.
After the game, Hargrave told the media that he attributes his recent success in part to the time he had to rest during the team's recent bye week. He took advantage of the off days, recovering from lingering pain in his foot.
"I got healthy. ... I think I was a little nicked up, my toe and foot and stuff. And that bye just helped me really get over it. ... It's no excuse, but it's something that's been nagging."
The team won't suit up again until they host the Washington Commanders on Monday night for the annual Salute to Service game; they're in the middle of a 10-day stretch without a game. Just like he did during the bye week, Hargrave's planned some earned R&R.
"I ain't going nowhere. I'm being a facility of getting a little treatment and just going out to eat," Hargrave said.
It's not happenstance that the Eagles' secondary has been able to utilize their defense-trained hands to intercept opposing quarterbacks' passes week in and week out. The team has totaled 12 interceptions over first eight games of the 2022 campaign.
They've been at the right spots at the right time, but not by a stroke of luck, though it may appear that way after safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson grabbed his fifth interception of the season and cornerback James Bradberry his third against Davis Mills and the Texans on Thursday night.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni assured on Friday morning that their success is no fluke.
"I think sometimes there's a tendency for people to think, oh, they're getting lucky in the turnover category. To me, luck has nothing to do with it," Sirianni said.
"We talk about it more than anybody. We live it. We preach it. We rep it. There are fundamentals to it. Our coaches are all over it. Our players are all over it. It's constantly on our mind. Nobody thinks about turning the ball over or protecting the football more than we do."
C.J. Garnder-Johnson's five interceptions is the most among all NFL players this season. His total is tied with the number he's had through his first three years playing for the New Orleans Saints.
His reps at the NovaCare Complex paired with the team's emphasis on preparing for turnover situations is paying off big for Gardner-Johnson in his first year as an Eagle.
"Chauncey is catching a lot of balls after practice to make sure that when we get our hands on -- he's made some unbelievable catches, and when he gets his hands on the ball, he's finishing on those plays because he works hard at it," Sirianni said.
Sirianni says it all boils down to protecting the football. Following last night's game, the Eagles improved to an impressive +15 in turnover margin, towering the rest of the league; no other team is higher than +6. The team has been second best in the league at capitalizing on those plays, turning their takeaways into 60 points.
Gaining and retaining possession is a top priority for the undefeated Eagles – and they've done it well through Week 9 of the season. Gardner-Johnson has been an invaluable complement to the Eagles' secondary since he was traded before the start of the 2022 season.
"We've got a nice little group back there when we come in and play together. We work hard every week. Deep film study, that's all it is. The IQ is high, so we can go out there and play faster than anybody," Garnder-Johnson said.
The Eagles look to extend their perfect start to the season while maintaining an undefeated all-time record against the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football.