The Eagles were lauded for their chemistry last season, although it's easy to get along when the team wins almost every week.
That chemistry can be tested now that the Eagles have a losing record for the first time since December 2016.
So when Jay Ajayi thinks there should be more running plays, Fletcher Cox doesn't want Jalen Mills in an opponent's face after a third-down stop, or Stefen Wisniewski is frustrated by his demotion, there could be signs of discord. Except coach Doug Pederson doesn't see them that way.
"I see their frustration, like our frustration, when things don't go our way," Pederson said. "And I see leaders on the football team standing up and leading, and that's what we need right now. We need those guys. We're sitting here at 2-3. We're 0-0 in our division with an opportunity this week to make some hay there and we're looking forward to this week and moving forward.
"Our guys are competitive. I think that's the culture we've created, and … if we didn't have that, there would probably be some more issues going on. But the fact that the guys want it so bad, and they are standing up and holding each other accountable, I think that's a credit to the players."
The Eagles have enough to fix on the field with a lackluster offense, costly turnovers, foolish penalties, and a defense susceptible to the deep ball. They don't need to worry about the other drama that can come with losing. But when a team underachieves, everything is magnified. Pederson knows it and the team knows it. They now have another obstacle to navigate after it was learned that Ajayi tore his ACL on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season.
The term "self-inflicted" has been used by coaches and players, and the Eagles see a combination of turnovers, penalties, and correctable errors as the reasons they're on the wrong side of the score.
They have yet to score more than 23 points in a game after doing it 12 times during the 2017 regular season. This is the longest they've gone without reaching 24 points in a game in 20 years. Pederson pointed to human error that can be corrected and avoided – not scheme-related things.
But when the Eagles struggle on offense and they give only 12 carries to the running backs, there's going to be curiosity about why the Eagles didn't run more. Even from Ajayi, who said it "doesn't make sense."
When the offensive line has protection problems even after demoting Wisniewski, a veteran with 101 career starts (including the Super Bowl run), for Isaac Seumalo, a former third-round pick who lost his job a year ago, then it's understandable Wisniewski would admit that he's frustrated and say he has theories for why he's not starting anymore.
"I have no idea what the other theory would be because everything in this business is performance-based," Pederson said. "If we feel as an offensive staff like we need to make a change somewhere, then we'll make that change. We feel comfortable with Isaac. … He's done well in practice and he has earned an opportunity to play, and so we felt like this past week it was a good opportunity."
Pederson does not expect lineup changes during a short week, so Seumalo is expected to start again Thursday against the New York Giants.
On defense, Mills' finger wags haven't been as endearing to the fans when the celebrations come while teams test Mills deep. Mills allowed a 68-yard gain on Sunday that brought the Vikings into scoring range, and when the Eagles forced the Vikings to kick a field goal, Cox didn't want to see Mills talking trash with Minnesota's Adam Thielen and run the risk of a penalty.
Cox, a captain, thought he was doing his job as a teammate in that situation.
Throughout the offseason, the Eagles heard about the Super Bowl hangover. They talked about avoiding it, and did everything they could to put the Super Bowl season behind them. But now that they've had a slow start to the season, there's more credence to the theory that the they still haven't escaped the Lombardi Trophy's wake or that it's hard to manage success.
"It is a challenge, quite honestly," Pederson said. "I had an opportunity when I was in Green Bay to do this back-to-back, two Super Bowls back-to-back. Historically, you watch teams that have had success and gone back. The Patriots have probably been the team that have been the most consistent at it. That's the thing you guard against. You guard against so-called burnout or the energy level is down. You also have to guard against what success looks like to everybody and how that can pull on people and distract people. Players, coaches, I'm included."
Pederson doesn't think the Super Bowl hangover is the problem. He said he doesn't think about last season, but he can't speak for the players.
Where the Eagles go from here will ultimately determine the narrative of the season. If the Eagles beat the Giants, rally to win the NFC East, and make the playoffs, their resilience will be celebrated and what might have splintered a group will instead be viewed as galvanizing moments. But if the losing streak continues, there will be closer examinations of a team that reeled after winning the Super Bowl.
"There is a sense of urgency, I think, to obviously get better, to fix it," Pederson said. "We're on a short week this week. But our guys are professionals and they will get it done."