It’s remarkable watching someone who’s never been a Philadelphia Eagle transform into a Philadelphia Eagle.
Watching someone who’s never set foot in the NovaCare Complex, who’s never experienced the Eagles’ unique culture, who’s never played for this coaching staff or alongside these players, become an Eagle.
When you have a general manager like Howie Roseman, you’re going to have constant change. That means the 53-man roster on Week 1 is very different from the roster in late October.
Roseman is constantly looking to upgrade, and that means signing players off the street, trading for players, luring players out of retirement.
Whether it’s adding Joseph Ajayi during middle of the 2017 Super Bowl season, acquiring Golden Tate at the trade deadline in 2018, claiming Marcus Epps on waivers in November of 2019, bringing in veteran interior linemen Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh last November or adding Julio Jones, Bradley Roby and Kevin Byard over the past few weeks, Roseman never stops adding.
And that can potentially lead to problems.
Every new guy means fewer snaps or a trip to the waiver wire for players who’ve been here all along. Every new guy has to fit into the locker room and the existing culture. Every new guy has to adopt the same practice habits that everybody else has been following for months or years.
An NFL locker room is a delicate balance of personalities, young and old, starters and backups, big contracts and minimum wage, leaders and followers. And when those personalities don’t mesh, it’s very hard to win football games.
Not surprisingly, the Eagles have had very good success acclimating new players into their locker room, their culture.
It’s something that’s very important to Nick Sirianni and his leaders.
“I think a lot of those things happen naturally,” Jalen Hurts said Wednesday. “The reality is this is a result-based league. But people respect winning. And winning is the only thing that matters.
“So when you have guys that come in, or guys that come on to the team in the middle of the year, they take a lot of pride in that because they respect the things that we’ve been able to do and win.”
In other words … when you just went to the Super Bowl and you’re on your way to the playoffs for a third straight year and you’re 27-7 in your last 34 games, guys on other teams want to be here.
And when they get here, they’re eager to fit in as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
“It really works with the people we have in this building,” Nick Sirianni said. “Our players getting excited about the new faces in here and talking to them. That’s the beginning part because it’s all about connecting.
“I try to do my part by getting to know the guy as much as we can, but it is a process — again, it’s the guys that we have in here. It’s about being intentional about our core values, mainly connecting, and see how things are working in here. It’s really up to our leaders — and that’s why we’ve got really good leaders to bring these guys in.”
Part of the evaluation process for Roseman and his pro scouts is what kind of player a potential addition is, but a big part is also what kind of person are they and how will they fit into a very carefully constructed locker room culture.
When you’re wrong, you get Orlando Scandrick. Lesson learned.
Byard, a two-time all-pro safety, is the Eagles’ latest big-name in-season addition, and it’s no surprise he had a smile on his face all day Wednesday, two days after the Titans traded him to the Eagles.
He’s coming from a team that was 2-4 and in last place in the AFC South to a team that has the best record in the NFL.
Byard said he had shaken over 100 hands by the time he finally got out on the practice field Wednesday afternoon for a walkthrough.
“Some of the guys I already knew like Reed (Blankenship), I know Slay, I was in the Senior Bowl with J.B., so that’s obviously an easier transition,” Byard said. “But even the leaders who I didn’t know, like Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, I saw them earlier this morning, and they were just like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna love it here,’ and stuff like that.
“And that’s one thing about me. I know I was a team captain where I was from, but these guys have great leadership here already. So I’m going to follow their lead. I think that’s one thing about being a good leader is also being a good follower, too.
“So I’m going to follow those guys’ lead and try to come in and do what I can for myself and try to put my input on the team, as well. But first and foremost, that’s just earning their respect by how I prepare and how I go about my business.”