"The new norm" is a daily level of expectation a Super Bowl champion carries with it. This is not a burden in any way. It is a challenge. To go from a "hunter" team to a "hunted" team, to know the path to the Lombardi Trophy, this is the "new norm" for the Philadelphia Eagles, and they aren't shying away from what head coach Doug Pederson said after the team beat New England to win Super Bowl LII.
He reiterated when he met the players on Monday as the offseason conditioning program began.
We're starting this season over. We're starting from ground zero, day one.Sacrifice, man," Pederson said. "The season is going to be here before you know it. Every team is talented. What are you willing to give up? If you want to hold up that [Vince Lombardi] trophy again, and not be that one and done team? Now that's the time to put in the work. Get better today. The new norm? Remember, we talked about that at the end of the year. Guess what? The new normal starts today."
On Tuesday, some veteran leaders talked about their perspective of "the new norm(al)."
"This is a situation we want to be in every year," safety Malcolm Jenkins said on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex on a day when quarterback Carson Wentz updated his medical situation (it's very positive!), linebacker Jordan Hicks talked about his comeback from his Achilles tendon injury (he's feeling great about it!), and Zach Ertz spoke of now being the veteran in the tight end room ("weird," he said). The overriding message in Day 2 of the team's offseason conditioning program was this: What will it take for the Eagles to become the ninth team in NFL history to repeat as Super Bowl champions?
How to go about creating the "new norm"?
"I think it's just a different mindset of who we are," Jenkins said. "Like, knowing what you've been able to accomplish. For me, when I hear the term 'the new norm,' I'm not thinking about the end result. I'm not thinking about the championships and the parades and all of that, I'm thinking about the work that it took to get to where we were. How we started last year, in April, and grinded and competed all the way throughout. And so for me, that's kind of the new norm. That's the standard and the base we're trying to start from to try to defend that title."
You can't repeat as champion if you don't put in the work now. Winning the Super Bowl doesn't just happen. The Eagles have their offseason program rolling and they're going to implement a fun series of challenges and team-building games and then they're going to hit the field and put all the pieces together. Pederson made it work so beautifully last season as the chemistry blossomed in these early weeks and months of the offseason. Howie Roseman and his staff put together a terrific roster that had depth and versatility. Players had an unselfish, team-first attitude that paid off during the season.
And the Eagles won the Super Bowl! Woooooo-hoooooo.
What are they going to do for an encore?
"I think guys have really learned the preparation, obviously the knowledge that goes into the scheme has definitely increased, and what it takes to finish games," Hicks said. "I remember a couple of years ago we were sitting in this same room talking about what can we do to finish games. We've done that. We've done that. We've done that at the highest level and, to me, that's the new norm. It's having that expectation, having that standard of knowing what it takes to get to that point, what it takes to get back to where we want to go."
With that comes, in many cases, pressure. More television appearances on a national platform. More people grabbing for a piece of your time. More, more, more.
Surely that's part of the equation to consider, right?
"I don't think it's an added layer of pressure," Wentz said. "I'm kind of wired like Doug in that I expect to succeed and I expect winning seasons. I expect those things. That's just how I'm wired. I think a lot of it from last year, the new norm is kind of who we were as a team, not so much the winning and the Super Bowl and all that stuff, but the culture. The new norm for the culture. The new norm for how we practice, how we approach each day, how we care for our teammates. I think there's a lot more that can be unpacked for that phrase, 'the new norm.'"
At the end of the day, the Eagles desire to keep the same mentality they had in 2017. They were the underdogs. They were Team Chemistry. They roared through the regular season and the postseason when not many folks out there gave them much of a chance.
It's a new year, but the hunger remains.
"I don't think guys in our locker room will ever lose the mindset that we are, that we will always be the hunter," Ertz said. "We're extremely hungry for sustained success in this city. We've tasted it one time and that's something that you never want to give up. We're hungry to repeat. Obviously, it's a brand-new team. You can't just do exactly what we did last year and expect to have the same result. And it's not going to be easy by any means.
"But we're very hungry as a football team. I don't think we'll ever have that mindset where we're arrived as a football team or as a city. We're just excited about the upcoming year."
The "Underdog" Eagles, then, move forward.