INDIANAPOLIS - Much like they’ve destroyed NFL offenses over their 13-year careers, Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh may have laid waste to a decades-old NFL trope, and that is the idea that the NFL is not a plug-and-play league.
The Eagles plugged in and played both players for significant snaps in Sunday’s 17-16 nailbiter over Indianapolis despite the fact Joseph arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
He had a 24-hour head start on Suh, who signed a day later to help bolster an interior defensive line dealing with injuries to Jordan Davis and Marlon Tuipulotu.
Other than MVP candidate Jalen Hurts and perhaps Mike linebacker T.J. Edwards, no one played better than Joseph in his first Philadelphia start with the big man finding the fountain of youth and becoming the nasty run-plugger he was earlier in his career.
Suh, meanwhile, proved effective as well in an interior rotation that also gave Jonathan Gannon the versatility to get Marvin Williams some snaps outside at times.
"Man, them boys looked like they was ready to go like they’ve been here a while," said fellow veteran Brandon Graham. "I’m thankful for them because they kept us up all through the game.
"They had a great attitude through the whole game. It was cool to play with Suh and LJ."
Joseph finished with four tackles, a quarterback hurry, and shared a sack for Suh, the 35-year-old four-time All-Pro who had three tackles and his own QB hurry.
“One day it’s a call, next day I’m on the plane, next day I’m at practice," said Joseph. "You know, I’ve only been here for four days, so I feel like I handled adversity good and I feel like I did my job.”
Suh let the cat out of the bag after the game about questioning veterans regarding playing even those who took the summer and first half of the season off.
“To be honest with you, it’s all about terminology,” Suh said. “There are only so many ways you can play the 2-technique, 3, 4i. At the end of the day, it’s just learning the terminology and … It’s just going out, getting off the ball and playing hard.
Graham, himself a 13-year veteran, wasn’t expecting anything less.
“Thirteen years, it’s just like me,” he said. “If I was sitting down, I know I’d be staying ready and excited when you come back. The pure excitement of just being back. … I was happy that they picked it up really good, even with the plays. I was helping Suh this week, but when we go to the game, he didn’t need me because he already had it down, the terminology and stuff.
“These guys were great pickups ad great fits as far as personalities. They want to maximize their roles.”
Graham admitted to the downside of coming in late, though, and something that will need to be monitored moving forward.
“I'm sure they’re going to be sore two days from now.” he said. “LJ was saying, I was just on my couch. I dreamed about this and look at this now. I just feel like it was meant. It was cool to see them guys come in and play right away and make some plays.”
For now, though, the Eagles got the spark they were looking for.
“Man it was a great game. It came down to the wire,” Joseph said. “It really showed us about this team. …He just gotta keep believing, just keep going. Defense, they just played good.
"We gotta be just on the same page and play a complete game and we’re gonna be on our way.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Football 24/7 and a daily contributor to ESPN South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen