Fri, 21 Jan 2022

The week of words, from the players

Philadelphia Eagles
15 Jan 2022, 18:12 GMT+10

Dave Spadaro

They're done with all the talk, but as the Eagles went through the course of their playoff week, they had plenty to say about the moment that awaits on Sunday - the 1 PM kickoff at Raymond James Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl Champions. It's a special moment for a franchise that has enjoyed 16 postseason appearances in Jeffrey Lurie's ownership - a testament to the organization's ability to recover from the down season of 2020 and begin a new era with Head Coach Nick Sirianni at the helm.

The focus is on Sunday, and for this Eagles team the week that has been is one to embrace: A new level of energy and togetherness has been readily apparent throughout the NovaCare Complex during the week, and as the Eagles turn to the final hours before Sunday, let's review some of the things the players have said as they've prepared for Tampa Bay.

DeVonta Smith, WR

"You've got to know what's at stake. It's win or go home - win you advance, lose you go home. That's kind of the main thing. It comes down to what we do as a football team, not about them. How we execute our game plan. How we do our techniques, the fundamentals and things. It's the same thing for me. It's the next game. It just feels like another game to me. I treat it the same and do my usual routine and stick to it. For me, honestly, it feels the same."

Lane Johnson, OT

"Just trying to be consistent, trying not to be overly emotional in this game, just worry about our assignments and take it play by play. Whenever you do that, you put yourself in the best position to win. The big message is not becoming emotional with the game or where we're at or anything, really. One day at a time. That's where we're at. Go big or go home, baby. That's really where it's at. I try not to get caught up in the hype or anything around you. Any NFL game is a big-time game. This one may mean a little bit more."

Anthony Harris, S

"Our focus has been on being technically sound, playing together, just having supreme belief in what we're supposed to be doing and where we're supposed to be. And then just locking in on the small details of the game, coverages, and where we're supposed to be. And then just flying around, having fun, and cutting it loose."

Jason Kelce, C

"He (Bucs defensive tackle Vita Vea) is enormous, he's fast, and he's smart. Those are three characteristics that you don't want any D-tackle to have. Most defensive tackles, or players, are one-dimensional - they're either really quick or they're really fast, or they're really big or they're kind of nothing and just good, OK at everything. That's when you get really tremendous players, obviously, when they have all of these attributes combined, where they have enough quickness and enough suddenness to get on your edge, but they also have enough power and enough strength to run right through you.

"You can't take away any one thing of his game without exposing another thing that you're vulnerable to. That's what makes him a special player. Then, on top of that, you see that he's a smart player, you see he understands formations ... you can tell that they are very, very well coached. They are very, very well coordinated. They understand what they're trying to do as a structure, as a whole, and it's no different than Vita."

Dallas Goedert, TE

"I'm really excited to play Tampa Bay. I missed that opportunity earlier in the year with the COVID, so to play them, a new opponent, I'm really excited for it. I think the whole team is really excited. Looking at that last game, I feel like it's really not the same team that we've got now. Players-wise, it's pretty similar, but the way we attack teams is completely different, running the ball. The way our offense is now has changed. Obviously, you're playing in the playoffs, you're playing the defending World Champions, so obviously it's going to be a really fun game, a great atmosphere, and the whole team is really excited to go down there."

Fletcher Cox, DT

"They're good up front, we're good up front. It's going to come down to which team can execute. Which side of the ball can execute the most. Our biggest thing is when we played Tampa Bay earlier in the year, they're a different team now and we're a different team. We kind of found our identity as the season went on. I'm really excited about it. I know it's a good matchup for us up front and we're accepting the challenge."

Rodney McLeod, S

"I think Tom (Brady, Tampa Bay quarterback) has seen it all. When you have that much experience, you have to do a little bit more as a defensive unit to try and create some indecision. And then of course, we understand that he can throw the ball anywhere on the field and is just a competitor. At the end of the day, he finds a way to will his team, regardless of who is out there. He's a great leader. We understand the task at hand. We're going to have to execute at a high level because that offense executes at a very high level because of him. When you look on film and see teams that have been effective versus him, it's just a relentless effort and a certain level of intensity that those guys are playing with and are finding ways to make plays on the ball. There are going to be opportunities and we just have to capitalize on them when they come our way."

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