Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is suffering from an obsession.
He’s determined for his club to become the first NFL team since the New England Patriots (2003-’04) to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
“I’m equally obsessed to be the first team to try to repeat in a long time,” Lurie told 247Sports.com. “And try to put us in a position over the next several years to have an opportunity to repeat what we just accomplished.”
With Pro Bowlers Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox all under contract, Philly’s championship window should be open for years to come. But new Eagles DE Michael Bennett knows nothing is ever guaranteed in football.
“As you know, in this league, it’s hard to get back to those moments and be able to win those games,” Bennett said in an interview with NBCSports.com. “Things happen, people get traded, new players come in, things change.”
That being said, the former Super Bowl XLVIII champion still likes the Eagles’ chances of repeating.
“They’re not complacent,” Bennett said. “You look at most organizations. They win, they think that’s it, that year. But this team is pushing and moving pieces and finding our weaknesses and making them better, and I think that’s how you prepare to win [again]. I think they’ve done a great job of it and me being an addition is something that I think is a great move.”
As the Eagles prepare for training camp, what needs to happen in order for the franchise to win its second straight Lombardi Trophy?
Backup QB Nick Foles was amazing while playing for an injured Carson Wentz during the Eagles’ miraculous playoff run, but Wentz has to be healthy in 2018 if Philadelphia wants to repeat as champions.
Wentz, who was the frontrunner for the NFL MVP Award before tearing his ACL in Week 14, has already proven in two short years that he’s one of the most dynamic players in the league. There are only a handful of NFL players that are capable of making the plays that Wentz makes, and the Eagles’ offense, which ranked as the #3 scoring offense in 2017, will have tall expectations when he returns to the lineup.
“It [winning the Super Bowl] comes with a lot of high expectations. People want to talk about that target on our back,” Wentz revealed to NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “You truly know you’re going to get everyone’s best shot every week. We wouldn’t want it any other way. We have high expectations around here and expect excellence every day and in everything that we do.”
Time will tell if Wentz can handle the pressure that comes from being the face of the defending champion, but if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks in his rehab, we should witness another MVP-like season from the young quarterback, which would be a great sign for the Eagles in their quest for another title.
Philadelphia’s defense finished the 2017 regular season tied for 15th in sacks with 38, but led the NFL with 291 total pressures. By having seven different players record at least 20 pressures, the Eagles showed the importance of having depth on the defensive line.
Luckily for Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he’s got eight gifted pass rushers that he can rotate around in his wide-nine defense. But a certain one of those linemen is undoubtedly the x-factor for both Schwartz’s wide-nine defense and Philadelphia’s Super Bowl hopes.
And he has a lofty goal heading into 2018.
“The next box for me, and I’m not scared to say, I’ve had multiple Pro Bowls, I won the Pro Bowl,” Fletcher Cox said via NBC Philadelphia. “The next thing for me is to be Defensive Player of the Year. That’s my thing. I’ve been working towards that.”
The three-time Pro Bowler has all the talent in the world, but considering that Aaron Donald is the only defensive tackle to receive the honor since 2000, it’s unlikely that Cox meets his objective.
But that wouldn’t make the season a bust.
Because if Cox has a year that even puts him remotely near the conversation for that esteemed award, the Eagles will probably be playing championship-level football in January.
While Wentz became a household name due to the Eagles’ high-powered passing offense, Philadelphia’s running back-by-committee backfield was the key to their offensive success.
Led by LeGarrette Blount, who signed with the Detroit Lions during the offseason, the Eagles ran for a combined 2,115 yards during the regular season, which was third most in the NFL. Although Blount is out of the picture, Jay Ajayi, the Eagles’ second-leading rusher in 2017, is ready to be the lead back in 2018.
“I would like to consider myself a workhorse running back, a grinder,” Ajayi said to ESPN. “I believe it’s tough for a defense to go against me for four quarters, just getting me running on the attack and pounding, pounding.
“For me, personally, I feel like that second half … is where I can see the defense wearing down, and that’s when I can make a lot of my big runs and just take advantage of guys [wearing] down from tackles and being tired and exhausted, and just being that dog that never lets up.”
When Ajayi does need a breather, the Eagles will be able to turn to Super Bowl LII hero Corey Clement and versatile veteran Darren Sproles, who is returning from a broken arm and torn ACL that he suffered on the same play in Week 3.
That trio of running backs carrying the load in Philadelphia means that the Eagles will be that much closer to making Lurie’s obsession of back-to-back Super Bowl victories a reality.