The Eagles are one of just two teams atop the NFL standings with a 6-1 record, neck and neck with the reigning champion Chiefs, their recent Super Bowl opponent. And there's no reason to believe another title push isn't in the cards, according to Eagles veteran Zech McPhearson, who told CBS Sports on Thursday that Philadelphia is "not even close" to its ceiling midway through 2023.
"The sky's the limit for us," McPhearson said. "We still haven't played our best ball. I know people keep saying that, but I truly believe that. Like, we're not even close. Once we start clicking like we did last year, it's over with for this league. And I'm not being biased. I truly mean that. I've seen what this team can do."
McPhearson is currently recovering from an Achilles tear suffered in the preseason. But like fellow cornerback Avonte Maddox, he's remained a steady presence in Eagles facilities, helping prepare a defense that ranks No. 6 in the NFL after a rout of the Dolphins.
"(Defensive coordinator Sean) Desai, he's doing a real good job," McPhearson said. "Real personable dude, and he's got the respect of all the players. ... (But) it's really the standard in the room. Guys like Fletch (Fletcher Cox), he talks about the standard. The standard is something that's been set here, long before Coach Desai even got here. It's set by the players. The way we practice, the way we hold our own in the facility, it's the makeup of who we are as a team."
A fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 2021, McPhearson credits the team's remarkable run -- Eagles are 28-8 in their last 36 games, including playoffs -- to the franchise's core leadership.
"Nick Sirianni, Howie (Roseman), Jeffrey (Lurie), all them guys, they do a phenomenal job," he said. "They genuinely care about everybody. We got a good chemistry here. When you trust the guy next to you, you trust the guys upstairs, you trust the coaching staff, the trainers, the people around the building ... it's unreal what you can accomplish.
"Being here these last three years -- even from Year 1, our record probably didn't reflect it to most, but we made it to the playoffs," McPhearson continued. "That's a big deal. I got some friends who've never even been in the playoffs who've been in the league three, four, five years. And then Year 2, (reaching the) Super Bowl, that's a real big thing. Some people don't even get a chance to make it there their whole career. And then Year 3, sitting here 6-1, it's unreal. So I've been getting spoiled a little bit, not gonna lie."
McPhearson, who's built a close friendship with mentor and Eagles Pro Bowl corner Darius Slay, sees the groundwork being laid for another stretch that pads that resume. New addition Kevin Byard, Roseman's latest in-season trade acquisition, "plays smart" and "wants to come help us win." Rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter impresses him week in, week out: "Man, that dude don't talk much, but when it's time to go, it's time to go," McPhearson said. "I don't think I've ever seen somebody making as big a steps as he is, every single game. And it rubs off on the other players."
Miami may not be the last team to fear the prospect of outmuscling the Eagles defense.
"Bruh, I have no idea," McPhearson said when asked how he'd prepare for his own unit. "If I was on the offensive side of the ball, I would say the same thing. I would be like, 'What the heck.' You try to take away one, but then you got three other guys you gotta account for on the D-line. We all complement each other so well on this team. We're loaded with talent."
They're also loaded with energy. If star quarterback Jalen Hurts is even-keeled as they come, Sirianni is regularly going viral for his animated activity on the sidelines. And McPhearson said the Eagles are certainly better for it.
"It's infectious, man. We feed off of that. Coach feeds off of us. When we make a play, Coach is on the sideline jumping around, celebrating with us,'' McPhearson said. "It all goes down to his competitive mindset. We even got a basketball hoop inside the team meeting room. He's in there hoopin' with us, showboating, letting us have it, we let him have it. That's just who he is, man. I love it. We love it as a team. Us players love it, the fans love it. We all feed off it. Having a coach that is really backing his players is the best thing you could ask for. And if you're winning, it's even better."