Cullen Jenkins won a Super Bowl last year and he generally played a pretty high level this season so as we've said before, his words have weight. He's been remarkably honest and plain spoke this season, something you don't usually see from the tight lipped Eagles, and we've found it to be refreshing. His comments as he packed his locker for the offseason were just as candid as we've come to expect.
He says there were red flags early on this season and that team needed to learn how hard it is to get a Super Bowl.
"There were definitely red flags," said Jenkins. "A lot of people see Super Bowl, or I think they let the fact that the Super Bowl is there, and so many people talk about it right away. You can hear people nowadays, they come out of the draft talking about Super Bowl and I think it kind of gets thrown around too loosely now.
"It’s obviously the ultimate goal in where you want to get to, but you have to understand that you have to work hard. It’s something that is a process and you have to take it each step at a time to get to it and I think a lot of time people just want to jump from preseason to the Super Bowl without doing what it takes in between."
And while some have mocked the idea of the Eagles gaining "momentum" for next season, after the jump Jenkins calls it something else, confidence.
He says that the team learned that winning doesn't just happen.
"Everybody is real upbeat. Everybody believes that can play or we can beat anybody right now, and that’s the attitude that we’re supposed to have," said Jenkins. "And it’s not that same feeling that we had in training camp, where it was, oh because we have talented players, we should beat people. It’s oh, because we know how to play now. We know how to fight. We know how to go out there and impose your will on another team that can allow us to beat another team."
Another criticism that's been leveled at the Eagles in regards to their strong finish was that they didn't play good teams. But Jenkins, who would know, says that winning over anyone is a good sign. Plus, as he points out, they couldn't even beat bad teams early in the year.
"Once you get that confidence, whether you think it’s from a team that wasn’t as good or a team that was one of the top – once you get that rolling, it helps you out a lot," Jenkins said, recalling that the Eagles were beaten by John Skelton and Tarvaris Jackson.
"We had games this year where we’re going against offenses that weren’t as good, and they still did well against us. It’s still an accomplishment in itself to go take care of business, regardless of who it’s against."
The Eagles are one of the winningest franchises in the NFL over the past decade. Guys in the league are used to seeing them in the playoffs nearly every year. So you can see how all these new faces came to this team just expecting to win because it's the Eagles and usually they always do. From what Jenkins says, that seems to have been the feeling. But obviously that's not how it works. And this core does not have years and years of playoff appearances.
So while we're trying to decide what this four game winning streak to end the year meant, this just might be the positive to take from it. You'll hear some term it "momentum" but what it really can be is that the team learned how to win. They learned that winning isn't something you're entitled to in this league. They learned that past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Or at least that's what we hope they learned...