It was a perfect Day 1 for the Philadelphia Eagles on the field for Training Camp, what with the energy of the players and coaches very apparent, with the fans in attendance at the NovaCare Complex crackling with electricity, and with what the team showed – albeit in shorts and shells, to be fair – on the field. I mean, I literally got goosebumps watching from the end zone as A.J. Brown ran a tremendous route to clear out multiple defenders for tight end Dallas Goedert to haul in a great pass from Jalen Hurts pass for a "touchdown" and, oh boy, I can't wait to see this stuff in the regular season.
If you're a fan, hey, we get it. You have visions dancing around in that Eagles-addled mind of yours and, well, that's what being a fan is all about. That kind of passion is what sets Eagles fans apart from the rest of the world.
For the Eagles, though, it's much more muted. Focused. Reserved. Understanding. Because while this football season starts with high expectations, as always, the look-ahead doesn't extend beyond that very moment in time. Being where your feet are, that's kind of where the Eagles are at as Training Camp begins. They know there is a whole lot of work to be done before anything is accomplished.
"It's exciting as we start, but we've got a long way to go. We've got a long camp, a preseason schedule, so we'll keep evaluating and keep improving the roster if we have opportunities to do so," Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman said as he came off the field on Wednesday morning. "The reality is that we're just starting this thing."
"This thing" is a roster that is coming off a season in which it overcame the adversity of a 2-5 start to reach the postseason with new Head Coach Nick Sirianni and then aggressively upgraded the roster in the offseason adding playmakers on both sides of the line of scrimmage. How impactful the offseason was remains to be seen, but the early returns are promising and encouraging.
You can't look out at the field and not be impressed with the upgrades. Brown brings a proven history as a physical, big-play receiver who scored 24 touchdowns in three seasons in Tennessee. Getting a feel for how the Eagles plan to use him in the formation with DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins – who had some nice grabs on Wednesday, for your notebook – is part of what's intriguing about this summer. The way the offense is rotating the backfield using Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott is to know the pressure that's going to be put on defenses. Goedert is every bit the beast as an all-around threat at tight end, and the offensive line just keeps sending out wave after wave of talented combinations.
Hurts is in an entirely different place than he was a year ago when he earned the starting quarterback job in Training Camp. That's not even an issue now.
"It's great to be back out here. We put in so much work in the offseason as a group so that when the time comes, it's like, 'let's go do what we do,'" Hurts said. "I think it's fun being out here for the first time really having everyone back, everything open. We're just excited. We're just hungry. Very hungry."
Defensively, look, it's a whole new ballgame from a season ago. The Eagles used their first-round draft pick on tackle Jordan Davis, added established veteran linebackers in Haason Reddick and Kyzir White in free agency and Nakobe Dean and Kyron Johnson in the Draft. James Bradberry was a post-draft free-agent signing to come in and, the projection is, start at cornerback. Jaquiski Tartt joined in the spring after seven seasons in San Francisco to add depth at safety. The scheme? Evolving, as coordinator Jonathan Gannon learns more and more about his personnel.
It's all very ... what's the word here? ... Exciting, for sure. Promising, no doubt. Heading in the right direction, without question. But leaping to conclusions in this "hot take" society? Not happening even a little bit at One NovaCare Way.
The Eagles are keeping it right in front of them. No sense buying into the outside noise.
"I didn't feel like expectations weren't high last year," Sirianni said. "Whether somebody said they weren't or somebody said they were, they were high for me. Our standard was high and I know the city's standard was high. That's not new.
"As far as what I said to them (his players when the team convened on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex), my message to them was very clear. I can't tell you how many times this year or this summer somebody has come up to me and said, 'Hey, NFC East. And then we're going to have a home playoff game and we're going to win that one and then we'll just see what happens.' Whoa! We've got Training Camp to do. Every day you have to go through this process. I've talked about this before: When you're climbing a mountain, you don't look at the top of the mountain every single day and say, 'I've got to climb that.' You look at the part of the mountain you've got to climb that day and you focus on that.
"That's what Training Camp is about."
Sirianni went on to talk about "daily deposits" and he used the analogy of a track runner "who made daily deposits" and when it came time to cash the check, it didn't bounce. All the expectations are there, and it's great, but it's what the Eagles do every day that matters.
So, on this day, on this glorious Day 1 in the warmth and sun of South Philadelphia, the Eagles made their first daily deposit. They want to grow that balance every day and see what the account looks like at the end of the season.
That Training Camp is finally here, truthfully, no words. It's all systems go for a football team that aims for something special, but to do that, as Roseman said, the Eagles are staying in the moment and savoring every step of the journey.