Winning the Super Bowl is, as Eagles fans who watched 51 Super Bowls come and go without a ring will tell you, one of the hardest things to accomplish in sports. Winning it two years in a row is, understandably, even harder. Our Philadelphia Eagles will have the challenge of defending their Super Bowl Champion title. Jason Kelce’s famous “hungry dogs run faster” monologue inspired an entire city. However, it begs the question, will the Eagles still be the hungriest team? Looking back at Super Bowl history can help us gain a better look at how this rendition of the Eagles stack up to repeat champions of the past.
Looking Back at Repeats
Back-to-back champs have happened only eight times in the Super Bowl era.
- Green Bay: ’66 & ’67
- Miami: ’72 & ’73
- Pittsburgh: ’74 & ’75
- Pittsburgh: ’78 & ’79
- San Fran: ’88 & ’89
- Dallas: ’92 & ’93
- Denver: ’97 & ’98
- New England: ’03 & ’04
All of these teams basically brought back the same core group of players on both sides of the ball during their defending reign. Only one of those teams, the ’72 and ’73 Dolphins, won the second of the two Super Bowls with a different starting quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles lost some key contributors to free agency, including LeGarrete Blount, Patrick Robinson, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Trey Burton, and Brent Celek. For most teams trying to defend their title these would be huge losses, but the Eagles were able to replace most of the production they lost, if not even improve in some areas.
Losing Blount shouldn’t phase the team too much, as Ajayi, Clement, and Sproles can quite easily handle the load. Patrick Robinson was a hero in the playoffs and not being able to retain him hurts, but the team seems hopeful Sidney Jones will prove why he would have been a first-round pick before the injury. Despite losing Curry and Allen, the defensive line shouldn’t miss a beat with the additions of Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. Burton and Celek are certainly players that will be missed, but rookie Dallas Goedert should impress fans, and Zach Ertz should build upon a tremendous 2017 season. Mychal Kendricks departing town leaves the linebacker position a little thin. If Jordan Hicks can stay healthy though, and that’s a big if, that unit should hold up behind such a stout defensive line.
2017/18 Eagles Next Repeats?
So as you can see, the Birds were able to, at least on paper, make improvements to their roster that set them up to go after a second Lombardi. One of the biggest differences between the Eagles and repeat champions of old, though, isn’t the players they’ve added, but instead the players they get back from injury. The first and most obvious name that comes to mind is Carson Wentz. The MVP of our hearts had a great chance of winning MVP of the league if it wasn’t for injury, and seeing his teammates raise the trophy after their Super Bowl victory will be motivation enough for Wentz to get back to the promised land. Having the Super Bowl MVP backing him up certainly doesn’t hurt either. Darren Sproles will be back, and as I wrote previously, will be in likely a smaller role but should still elevate the offense and special teams. Add All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, aforementioned MLB Jordan Hicks, and special teams specialist Chris Maragos to the mix and there will be no shortage of hungry players wanting to play in a Super Bowl.
The Eagles ability to retain key players, upgrade at various positions, and get playmakers back from injury sets them up nicely to have a chance to repeat. The 2014 Seahawks, though, can vouch that none of these things mean you actually will repeat. If you remember, the Seahawks were a goal line handoff to Marshawn Lynch away from going back-to-back when Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson off an unlucky bounce to seal a Patriots victory. The Seahawks probably should have won that Super Bowl, but probably doesn’t cut it in the NFL. Doug Pederson has emphasized that the Eagles recent success is the “new normal,” and he has proven enough doubters wrong in his short tenure that it’d be foolish to start not believing him now. Unlike others, I have no doubt Pederson, Wentz, and the Eagles will handle success well. They have the talent and leadership to join the eight teams that have repeated as Super Bowl champions – hopefully they have a little bit of luck as well.