Spadaro: Repeating is tough, but Eagles have a chance

Can the Eagles win the Super Bowl again? Yes, they can.

By Dave Spadaro

Here is the question everyone asks: Can the Eagles win the Super Bowl again? And the answer is, of course, “Yes, they can.”

But will they?

History says it’s so much more difficult than anyone thinks.

“There’s a reason that only eight teams have repeated as Super Bowl champions,” said defensive end Chris Long, who knows better than anyone given that he won the Super Bowl with New England in the 2016 season and with the Eagles in the 2017 campaign. “All that extra football takes its toll. You get hit with all kinds of distractions. You’re changing the dynamics of the locker room.

“Maybe more than anything is that other teams are gunning for you. You’re the hunted team now. Every team is going to give you its best shot, so you have to get to a certain level early in the season and stay there. That’s extremely difficult to do.”

The Eagles took some aggressive steps in the months following their Super Bowl LII victory to ensure that the locker room wouldn’t get complacent and that the roster would be challenged. They signed some key veterans in free agency, including defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata, along with wide receiver Mike Wallace. They retained linebacker Nigel Bradham on a multi-year contract extension. They selected tight end Dallas Goedert with their first pick in the draft (second round) and see him now as Zach Ertz, 2.0.

And head coach Doug Pederson made it a daily message that the “new normal” included making personal sacrifices and team-oriented challenges in every corner of the locker room.

Is that enough?

“It’s never easy and it’s particularly difficult when you’re trying to repeat. You’re not going to sneak up on anybody, ever,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins, who won a Super Bowl previously with New Orleans in 2009. “But we have enough veterans in here and we have extremely high expectations ourselves. While it’s hard to repeat, we also know the path. We know what kind of team we have. We know what we’re capable of doing because we’ve done it before. So, I think it all balances out.

“I love the challenge. We just need to keep getting after it every day.”

In addition to the historical challenge of repeating, there is this fact: No team has won back-to-back in the NFC East since the Eagles of 2003–2004. And no matter how it looks now — with the Giants rebuilding under new coach Pat Shumur and Dallas clearly with some questions at wide receiver and tight end and with Washington transitioning to new quarterback Alex Smith — “weird” is the “old normal” in the NFC East.

What you least expect usually happens, witness the Eagles going from worst in the division in 2016 to best in the NFC East and in the NFL in 2017.

“That’s the great thing about this league,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “It’s a week-to-week deal. Just when you think you have figured it out all, you get surprised. We’re not saying we have anything figured out. We know it’s going to be hard. We know that only eight other teams have done it. We want to make history, again. That’s the goal for this football team.” ••