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Spadaro: Beneath the surface, a special bond is brewing

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

What we know about the Eagles four games into this 2022 season is that, maybe more than anything, every player knows his role and, furthermore, embraces his role. It's a critical factor for a team that has a deep roster with elite-level talent, a strong cast of starters, and a hungry and talented group of reserves. We've seen the Eagles win in a variety of ways through four games and there have been some constants: the running game has pounded, the passing game has been explosive, the offensive line dominating, the defense opportunistic, and winning in a big way at the line of scrimmage.

Beneath the surface, though, is a team that has shown a selflessness that leads to team success. In an ultra-talented wide receivers room, there isn't an ounce of griping over who gets more targets. In the extremely competitive running backs room, no player has complained about a touch number. At the crowded defensive tackle spot, the fivesome has happily shared game reps. Tight end Dallas Goedert would probably like 10 targets each week, but he's happy with whatever his role may be from snap to snap.

A great example is running back Miles Sanders, who suddenly has the third-most rushing yards in the league (356) on 72 carries, an average of 18 attempts per week. He isn't gloating in the numbers; instead, Sanders has kept his message consistent.

"I would put our offensive line against any in the league and the fact that they're so good, that makes my job so much easier," Sanders said. "I'll do whatever they want me to do as long as we keep winning. Honestly, that's the only thing that matters."

No doubt Sanders was happy after rushing for a career-best 134 yards on Sunday in the 29-21 win over Jacksonville, but he was just as ecstatic that the guy a couple of lockers down the row, Trey Sermon, had his shot against the Jaguars and made the most of it, gaining 19 yards on two carries and having a facemask penalty tacked on top of one of the runs. Sermon was inactive the first three weeks after he was claimed off waivers from San Francisco, but with Boston Scott out as he recovers from a rib injury, Sermon got the call.

And he stepped up.

"It feels great," Sermon said. "To get back out there in this offense and contribute to a win, that's what it's all about. So, yeah, I'm very happy. I love it here being part of this. Everybody pushes each other to be the best player we can be and we all support each other. That's what a team does."

Hey, it's happening throughout the roster. Zech McPhearson played three-plus quarters at cornerback after Darius Slay went out with a forearm injury and McPhearson played well. Jack Driscoll stepped in for Jordan Mailata at left tackle in the first quarter and helped the Eagles gain more than 400 total yards of offense for a fourth straight game. Sua Opeta stepped in at right guard when Isaac Seumalo went down with an ankle injury.

After catching a combined 15 passes the previous two weeks, wide receiver DeVonta Smith had just four targets and three receptions on Sunday and didn't care a lick about his numbers.

"Everybody is just doing what they need to do. I think as a football team that's what we did," quarterback Jalen Hurts said after the win over the Jaguars. "The mentality throughout the week is what prepared us for this environment today. To be in this circumstance today and be able to overcome it is a testament to how we work, how we think. We want to enjoy it."

By now, Monday afternoon, the "enjoy" part is over and the Eagles are on to Arizona, Sunday's opponent. They're all going to be at the NovaCare Complex working together as the preparations for the next challenge begin. Each player has a part in the work.

"You just know we're going to need everybody during the course of the season," wide receiver A.J. Brown said. "It doesn't matter how we get it done or who makes the most plays because at the end of the day it's about winning. We're here to win."

Cornerback James Bradberry was one of the final players out of the Eagles' locker room on Sunday and he stopped for a moment to talk about the last time he had been "on a team like this." He knew what I meant. The Eagles are 4-0. They know this is a good team that must keep its perspective through the course of a long season that will inevitably have its share of ups and downs, but there is no denying that this is a good team.

"I haven't been on a team like this since Little League," he said. "That team was really good. We were undefeated three years in a row and won the championship every year. I think, you know, we are a team that didn't waver when we were down 14-0 (against Jacksonville). Everyone knew we had the ability to fight back and get into the game because we have a strong offense and we have a strong defense. Players were going to step up.

"That's just the mindset. We all have ownership here."

Every player has a role and every player embraces it in the "We, Not Me" mantra that permeates the NovaCare Complex. We know the Eagles are 4-0 this season and we know the stars are playing star football. Deeper than that is a team that has its players wrapping its arms around the collective concept of team. Know your role. Embrace it. Star in that role and understand that when the team has success, individual success happens.

"I think we're in it for each other," Bradberry said. "This is a special team, a special mindset. I think that's what I've learned through four games. We can win in a lot of ways, no matter who is out there. That doesn't happen in this league very often."

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