Super Bowl-bound Eagles are the gold standard and more in Roob's 10 obs


Two Super Bowls in six years.

Jeff Lurie was about 20 years too early when he said it, but this franchise really is the gold standard right now.

They're that good.

And after sending the 49ers back to San Francisco, they’ll play for another Super Bowl championship on Feb. 12.

The Eagles faced a team Sunday that hadn’t lost since mid-October, and they demolished them.

Obviously, a lot changed when Brock Purdy got hurt, but the Eagles were not going to lose this game. Period. Heck, this happened to the Eagles three years ago and they ended up with Josh McCown in a wild-card game against the Seahawks and nobody felt sorry for them.

So pack your bags. And don’t forget the sunscreen. Philly’s on its way to Arizona.

Here are our 10 instant observations on the Eagles’ 31-7 win over the 49ers Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

1. The most impressive thing about this Eagles team isn’t the offense, which just piled up 28 points on the NFL’s No. 1 defense. And it’s not the defense, which has allowed just two touchdowns in two postseason games.

Honestly, the most impressive thing about this team is just how focused it is on the process and sticking to Nick Sirianni’s philosophy of worrying only about the next play, the next meeting, the next film session.

I’ve been in the locker room every day since OTAs and not once have I heard anybody talk about the Super Bowl. They just don’t think that way. And that’s because of Sirianni, a guy who was never a head coach on any level until last year.

From Jalen Hurts down to the last guy on the practice squad, the message was the same no matter who you spoke with: We’re not thinking about the future, we’re not thinking about the past, all we can control is the moment. But they didn’t just say it, they believed it. Buy-in was 100 percent, and that allowed this team to navigate whatever challenges it faced, whether it was nearly blowing a 17-point lead to the Lions on opening day, trailing the Colts by 10 in the fourth quarter, losing two straight under Gardner Minshew or muddling through the regular-season finale against the Giants.

You don’t get this far without talent, which we’ve always known they’ve had. But you also don’t get this far without an incredible level of focus and discipline and preparation, and it’s pretty clear this team has plenty of that as well.

2. Hurts wasn’t great and his passing numbers are very modest — 15 for 25, 121 yards, no TDs, no INTs. After the first quarter, he passed for only 50 yards. But you know what he did do? Exactly what he had to. No turnovers, no mistakes.

We all saw the 49ers show numerous lapses in discipline. A facemask, A roughing the kicker, a personal foul, an unnecessary roughness — 12 penalties in all. The Eagles didn’t have any of that, and I think that’s the affect Hurts has on this team. There’s a real strength and calmness about him that permeates this roster, and we should all know by now that’s huge at this point in the season. That inner confidence, that unwavering belief in himself and his teammates.

Hurts is the eighth quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl before his 25th birthday, a group that includes Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Patrick Mahomes. This is the company Hurts is in right now. Maybe his numbers weren’t special, but he sure is.

3. Howie Roseman has now built two Super Bowl teams in a six-year span with different coaches and different quarterbacks and about a 90 percent different roster, and it’s incredible to think how far he’s come personally since losing the GM title in 2015 and then having it restored.

It was going to take an awful lot to make up for his 1st-round misses — Fireman Danny, Marcus Smith, Jalen Reagor — but he’s done it and much more. Lurie gave Roseman the opportunity to grow and learn from his mistakes, and Lurie paid him back by building two Super Bowl teams.

This past offseason might be the best the Eagles have ever had. One more win and the guy who was demoted to overseeing medical tape seven years ago will be on his way to Canton.

4. What an incredible postseason Haason Reddick is having. We’re seeing the Eagles’ best pass rusher since Reggie White, and as good as he was during the regular season, he’s taken it to a whole new level in the postseason. After his dominating 1 ½-sack performance against the Giants, Reddick just wrecked the 49ers Sunday, adding two more sacks for a franchise-record 3 ½ sacks this postseason.

Reddick is just relentless, and he’s never content to just sack the quarterback, he's looking to force a fumble every time. His 1st-quarter sack not only forced a Purdy fumble, it knocked him out of the game. His second sack, on Josh Johnson, he came up with the ball at the end of the play, but the refs ruled that Johnson was down by contact before Reddick ripped the ball away from him. Close to another strip sack. Then Reddick just muscled his way to the loose ball when Johnson fumbled with a minute left before halftime, setting up the Eagles’ third touchdown.

Including the postseason, Reddick now has 19 ½ sacks this year. Most since White set the franchise record of 21 in 1987. Reddick is just playing out of his mind. Nick Bosa is going to be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but he sure as heck wasn’t the best edge rusher on the field Sunday.

5. Nobody sent Shane Steichen the memo that you can’t run against the 49ers. Tremendous job by Steichen navigating the offense through some prickly moments when the Eagles just couldn’t get anything going in the passing game and doing it by running the football against a team that you’re not supposed to be able to run against.

The 49ers were No. 2 in the NFL in run defense this year, and they had allowed just three rushing TDs in their last nine games. But this o-line and these backs are special, and as tough and fast and physical as the 49ers are on defense, it was no contest.

The Eagles were pass heavy on three straight early series that ended in punts. But after that, Steichen hammered the ground attack and when it worked, he stuck with it. The Eagles didn’t throw and they didn’t need to throw.

They’re only the fifth team ever with four rushing TDs in a conference championship game, and that also set a franchise postseason record. They ran for 148 yards against a team allowing 78.

This is why he’s going to be a head coach if not next year then soon after.

6. I wonder where the FIRE JONATHAN GANNON crowd is today? The Eagles’ defense was phenomenal, and that’s two weeks in a row now …. They’ve allowed two touchdowns in two postseason games, and the key Sunday was they tackled and other than the one Christian McCaffrey TD, they didn’t allow the 49ers’ vaunted weapons to pick up the yards after the catch they’re known for.

They were physical, they pressured, they didn’t allow any big plays. This was a dominant performance against a top-5 offense. They kept getting the 49ers into 3rd-and-long, and they couldn’t convert.

I thought Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Reed Blankenship, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Avonte Maddox, Kyzir White and Javon Hargrave were particularly active. Heck, that’s almost everybody. And I don’t care what QB the 49ers had out there. They played who they played. And now they’re in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers might have the No. 1 defensive ranking, but the Eagles have the best defense in the league.

7. Dave Zangaro and I talked during the week about the advantage Sirianni has over Kyle Shanahan in terms of in-game coaching, and we saw that in the first quarter. The Eagles challenged the Purdy incomplete pass that was overturned and called a fumble, and the 49ers failed to challenge the DeVonta Smith “catch” that replays clearly showed hit the ground and led to the Eagles’ first touchdown.

This is the kind of thing Sirianni feels he does better now that he doesn’t call the plays. Shanahan calls the plays and he and his staff missed that one.

8. So much credit to both lines. The o-line dominated. The d-line dominated. The Eagles have the best two lines in the league, and when you have that, you have a chance to win every week, no matter what else happens.

It’s just incredible that Graham, Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox — three guys that Andy Reid brought in a decade ago — are still the heart and soul of this football team. And the thread that connects the 2017 team with this one. Those three guys were already all-time Eagles before this season. Now they’re headed to another Super Bowl.

But it’s not just them. Everybody on both lines is playing lights out. If you’re going to beat the Eagles, you’re going to have to take it to them up front, and I don’t think anybody can.

9. Love the way all these running backs are working together and playing together. Miles Sanders is still “the guy,” but when you can attack a defense with three backs with different skill sets and different strengths like Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott, that’s really hard to stop.

But they’re not just talented, they’re all just so clutch. Terrific down at the goal-line. Big plays at big moments. There was a point Sunday night where the Eagles really couldn’t get much of anything going on offense, and Gainwell hit a couple big plays, and that seemed to really jumpstart the offense.

And Sanders was a 2nd-round pick, but don’t forget Scott was signed off the Saints’ practice squad and Gainwell was a 5th-round pick. Fun group. Terrific group.

10. The last two head coaches Lurie hired took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in their second year.

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