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Orlando, Florida — Without his talent, C.J. Gardner-Johnson would not have been signed by the Eagles. If he didn’t mesh well with Vic Fangio’s defense, they wouldn’t have signed him.

However, there was more to his signing than that.

Bringing Gardner-Johnson back to Philadelphia was one of the offseason decisions the Eagles took in an effort to regain their confidence.

General manager Howie Roseman stated last week at the NFL’s annual league meetings, “It was important.” “It was crucial to get players who, in terms of free agents, are all rather young and had outstanding football character. And the word itself is mindset. Guys with (that) mindset are what we desire.

“We are looking for players who embody the spirit of the city and the offensive and defensive styles we want to play. It goes without saying that you want these folks to have talent, but I believe that would be appropriate to say. We wanted to get back our confidence and attitude. It goes without saying that none of us felt good about what had happened at the conclusion of the year. Getting people with that mentality, drive, and ability to kind of bring that was key.

There isn’t one simple explanation for why the Eagles disintegrated at the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. When you lose six of your last seven games and are eliminated from the playoffs in the first round of what you had anticipated would be a Super Bowl season, there isn’t going to be a simple solution.

Perhaps swagger is just a byproduct of success. Of course, it’s easy to see that then.

However, perhaps there is merit to the notion that having an advantage can assist avert total catastrophe. And perhaps, just possibly, the Eagles did not have it in 2023.

When discussing Gardner-Johnson, who has returned to Philadelphia on a three-year contract, head coach Nick Sirianni refrained from using the word “swagger.” He was thinking about another word.

“I believe that toughness is the key,” Sirianni declared early on Tuesday. “We wanted to include some challenging compositions. And if you go back and examine Chauncey’s contributions from his time here in ’22, you’ll see a man who wasn’t afraid to use his strength to play both mentally and physically difficult. Physical and mental toughness are the two components of toughness.

“Regardless of how well or poorly he performed, he gave the next play his all with incredible energy.” and a few of the theatrical productions he created. In the NFC Championship Game, for example, he made a fantastic open-field tackle on Christian McCaffrey, who is known to be difficult to tackle, on the sideline. And with an amazing physical play, he stood up excitedly.

“Chauncey’s return to toughness has me incredibly thrilled. Additionally, his infectious energy is evident in the way he plays. Playing physically simply adds that spark. Isn’t it similar to the alley-oop? It resembles a huge three-point shot. Any sport you wish to draw comparisons with it. The enthusiasm it gives the sidelines, your squad, and the momentum it creates. I’m thrilled about the excitement he plays with and the toughness he adds. You know, and anticipating him adding that to the defensive measure.

Sirianni stated there were many things they might have done better, but he did not go so far as to acknowledge it was a component the team did not have in 2023.

Thus, maybe a little off, but maybe not totally absent.

Sirianni declared, “We want to be the hardest team all the time.” And during parts of the last three years, we have been that. And we want to confirm that this is our identity. That is our innate structure.

 

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