The Philadelphia Eagles are among the first to win Super Bowl LVII, as they currently hold the league’s best record of 11-1. The addition of star AJ Brown has paid huge dividends to quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL before our eyes. However, the Eagles defense also deserves some credit.
Howie Roseman made several big additions on the defensive side of the ball. He signed pass rusher Haason Reddick in free agency, cornerback James Bradberry after his release from rival New York Giants, traded for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, traded for Robert Quinn, drafted Jordan Davis and added Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh once the rookie fell. with an injury. Offenses score points, but defenses win championships.
This week, CBS Sports caught up with Eagles legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins. In preparation for Saturday’s Army-Navy Special Force Showdown, he and former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten teamed up with the USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL, to donate two vehicles , one to one Army veteran, one to one Navy veteran, the day before the game at the USAA’s “Recycled Vehicle Donation Ceremony.” Dawkins spoke to CBS Sports about the Eagles’ hot start, the X-factor for a Super Bowl run and a few current NFL players who remind Dawkins himself.
Tell me about this project you set up with Jason Witten and the USAA?
Dawkins: I’m blessed to be part of it, first of all. To represent the military side of things. My nephew served in the army, that’s why I’m on the side of the army. But it’s also about fighting against each other, but at the end of the day, going out as friends, and that’s what me and Jason are going to do. During our time together, we clashed over how many years we played against each other – Dallas and the Eagles. But when it’s all said and done, we both come together to celebrate and bless some people with “Recycled Rides” and the USAA-sponsored program.
What was it like having to cover for this Jason Witten guy back then?
Jason reminds me a lot of how they talk about Tim Duncan. As if he was a fundamental guy. He wasn’t the fastest guy, wasn’t the fastest guy, but he just found a way to be consistent in all the years he played. He’s a very hardworking guy, a very competitive guy – which is what I liked about him too. So he was definitely one of those matchups that I was looking forward to when we played the Dallas Cowboys.
Your Eagles are off to a fantastic start. The title is of course Jalen Hurts and the attack, but what did you see of this defense?
The defense was very consistent in getting the ball back. That’s one of the things I love, getting sacks early on, getting the ball. But I think what surprised me the most was how successful the top four can be without blitzing. And that’s one thing that you saw last week against Tennessee was that the top four to five that they had from time to time took control of the game. So if they can maintain that kind of momentum, dominating from the front, it makes the job of those behind them so much easier.
What do you like about this secondary of the Eagles compared to the great secondaries you have played with?
The thing I was screaming from the top of the mountains this offseason is you gotta get the ball out. This is the bottom line. You can get off the pitch in different ways, interceptions aren’t the only way to get off the pitch, but we needed to have more individuals like that who can take the ball, and they got it. They went out and caught individuals who can take the ball away or prevent the ball from being caught. Obviously we miss CJ (Gardner-Johnson) and hopefully he recovers much sooner rather than later to be back on the court, and he’s one of those additions I talk about in secondary. Being able to take the ball. Again, PBUs are great, third saves are great, but to be able to take the ball away, that makes you a great defense.
You have already played in the Big Game. What do you think it takes for a team to make the Super Bowl. What is the X factor?
Usually, the X factor are the people you don’t necessarily pay attention to. Usually there’s a young guy or a guy you don’t expect to be “the guy” who all of a sudden shows up and has a terrific game. So that means that this person throughout the year has learned and they’ve done a good job of pouring out on this person – whoever they are – and then all of a sudden they come to this game and it becomes one of the X factors you don’t expect to see. Obviously, you expect your stars to be stars, but it’s usually someone you don’t pay attention to who has possibly their best game of their career, in the Big Game.
Is there a safety in the NFL today that you kinda see yourself in?
So the way I played the game was a mentality. And not everyone can do it. Some people pretend and some people it’s part of who they are. And so when you watch the guys play the game and you watch how they love the game – the passion behind what they do isn’t a show, it’s who they are. Some guys that jump out at me. Before CJ joined the Eagles, he was a cornerback. Basically the way they played it – they played it in the Saints slot. So you haven’t seen what he can do. But all of a sudden he ends up with the Eagles and they are now using him as a chess piece. He plays it safe all over the field and does a whole bunch of stuff. That’s what I see. I see that chess piece mentality in him. I see another chess piece is in Pittsburgh with Minkah (Fitzpatrick), like it’s some type of chess piece type. Again, I know people want to talk about my big hits and all that stuff. This is all wonderful, but it doesn’t just affect the game in one area. To be able to intercept the ball, cause fumbles, stop on third down by tackling the guy in the open field or breaking up a pass. Again, you talk about affecting the game in every statistical category.
One of my favorite videos I see from time to time on Twitter is you coming out of the tunnel before a Sunday night game or something. You say to yourself ‘The time has come, the time has come.’ Then you go out in the field and you go crazy. You played the game with such energy. Where does this energy come from?
It’s me. I didn’t do this to piss me off. I didn’t do this to make me be something other than myself. I did it because I was hyped. Because I was ready to do what I was about to do. I had already imagined myself being successful in this game in different aspects of it, so I was ready to unleash it on the field. People just didn’t know in advance what I knew in advance where I was going to dominate at some point in this game. It’s a part of me. It’s me. I don’t pretend to be anything other than myself. When I hit that pitch, I played safety post like Brian Dawkins did.