Eagles ready to meet lofty expectations

Ed Benkin
September 05, 2019 - 9:20 pm
Eagles players at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — It was a bit different two years ago.

As the Eagles entered what would be their Super Bowl season, nobody predicted Doug Pederson and his players would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Yet, there they were on that cold night in Minneapolis feeling the warmth inside U.S. Bank Stadium as the franchise captured its first ever Super Bowl title.  

After advancing to the Divisional Playoffs last year and loading up in the off-season, many believe the Eagles will be Super Bowl bound once again. 

For players such as Zach Ertz, the chance to meet the lofty expectations begins on Sunday when the Eagles open the season against Washington.

"We're extremely confident with where we're at," said Ertz. "The preseason is so far in the past now. No one's even thinking about that. The only thing that matters is Sunday and playing at a high level. It doesn't matter how much we play in the preseason and how much we didn't play. All that matters is going out and executing on Sunday."

As with most NFL teams, there was still the question of injuries leading up to the season. Despite losing several key players during their Super Bowl run two years ago, the Eagles are well aware of how injuries can make or literally break a season.  

Players such as Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett and Ronald Darby are coming back from either off-season surgeries or season ending injuries from a year ago.  

Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz does not seem to want to ease his players back into action on Sunday.

"You only get 16 of them," Schwartz said. "So there are two sides of that coin. We're not playing 162. We're not playing 82 in basketball. Obviously, every game has urgency. Somebody told me one time, a loss in the NFL is like a 10-game losing streak in Major League Baseball. How would you feel if you just lost ten games in a row?" 

Despite losing to the Saints in the second round last year, the Eagles received high praise from around the league for the way they saved what seemed to be a lost season.  

The Eagles had to win five out of their last six games just to reach the post-season, then got by the Bears before falling just short in New Orleans. 

The loss to the Saints is still on the minds of many players, and there's a sense of unfinished business from players like Ertz.

"We've been busting out butts for five months now," said Ertz. "We've got a bad taste in our mouths from last year in the playoffs against the Saints. We're excited to get back out there and play a home game. It feels like it's been forever since we've played at the Linc."

Sunday will only be the first step for the Eagles.

There will be 15 more games to go with many challenges on the schedule. There are several other teams in the NFC who also appear to have a chance to reach Super Bowl LIV.  

However, Malcolm Jenkins and his teammates are not shying away from the expectations. They're are embracing them.

"That's the fun part about Week One," Jenkins said. "You take all the off-season hype and this is your chance to prove it and really see what you have. It comes off of the paper and it's now on the field."