Doug Pederson: Eagles no longer the underdogs, now the ‘hunted’
To say the Philadelphia Eagles fully embraced the label of underdogs on their way to a Super Bowl LII victory would be an understatement. Having players don dog masks on the field and engaging in other canine-inspired antics — some for a great cause — fully illustrate as much.
Now as defending champions, though, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson believes it’s time for the team to flip the script and acknowledge they are underdogs no more. As every other champion learns, there no will be a target on the Eagles’ back and every team will be gunning to knock them off their pedestal.
“I want those guys to remember it, I want those guys to embrace it,” Pederson said at the start of the team’s three-day minicamp, via ESPN. “It’s a great motivating factor for us to sort of rip off the dog masks and no longer be the underdog, but be the hunted, have the target on our back.”
The Eagles have been basking in the afterglow of the team’s Super Bowl run that culminated in an upset of the mighty New England Patriots, and rightfully so. Pederson, however, already has a specific date and time penciled into his calendar when all the revelry must come to an end: 12:01 a.m., June 15, the day the Eagles are scheduled to receive their Super Bowl rings.
“Honestly, after the ring ceremony, to me, we’ve put that to bed, we’ve put that to rest, and we move onto 2018,” Pederson said.
Pederson also noted at the start of minicamp that it’s too soon to know whether Carson Wentz or Nick Foles will start the team’s season opener on Sept. 6 against the Atlanta Falcons. Regardless of whether or not Wentz has fully recovered from his torn ACL suffered late last season or not, Pederson stressed it’s time to leave the championship celebration behind, turn the page and get ready for the 2018 NFL season.
“When we come back July 25th, in two weeks we’re playing a football game,” Pederson said, “so that’s our focus.”