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Eagles overreactions: A.J. Brown might be... too good?


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Eagles overreactions: A.J. Brown might be... too good?


The Eagles got punched in the mouth, recovered, and punched back in Week 1 in a high-scoring 38-35 win over the Lions. The first seven-ish minutes were concerning, and then after that things basically went according to plan... with a hiccup or two.

But the Eagles' offense looked really good! It was nice!

(The defense... we'll get to that.)

It's hard to get too thrilled about a win against a team like the Lions, but some of the things we saw Sunday afternoon were pretty exciting - and in some cases worrying - so let's overreact to a small sample size of one (1) game and draw some conclusions that may or may not be correct:

1. I'm worried about DeVonta Smith

A.J. Brown is good. Like, really good. Pro Bowl-level good. He might be... too good?

If you're DeVonta Smith, it probably feels that way. 

Smith's rookie year was uneven but ultimately productive, and Eagles fans came away from his first 18 games as a professional feeling like the team had finally made a good draft pick at wide receiver after multiple whiffs. 

But all the training camp chatter about Hurts' friendship with Brown, and his affinity for throwing the ball Brown's way, came to life on Sunday in Detroit. Of Hurts' 32 pass attempts, 13 targeted Brown... while just four targeted Smith.

Smith dropped his first target of the game, an easy play that should've been a catch on the left sideline in the first quarter. Hurts only targeted him one time over the next two quarters, and there were long periods of time when I simply forgot that Smith was on the field. That's not great!

Between Brown as the clear cut WR1, Dallas Goedert as a borderline elite tight end option, and Jalen Hurts' ability to create with his feet... exactly how much room is left for Smith? You usually see a big jump from year one to year two for pass catchers, whether it's at tight end or wide receiver, but it feels like Smith's growth could be stunted if Nick Sirianni keeps calling his offense like this and Hurts keeps looking Brown's way on  every dropback.

It's not a problem for the team, to be clear. Brown is a superstar with big play ability and an unrelenting motor, and he raises the Eagles' ceiling immensely. I just don't love the situation for Smith. 

Obviously this is just one game. We'll see what Week 2 brings. But it's something to monitor.

(Seriously though, A.J. Brown is so good.)

2. Why can't the Eagles tackle or defend?

I know it's just Week 1 and the majority of the Eagles' starters didn't really get a preseason, but I didn't love what I saw from Jonathan Gannon's defense and their tackling. The performance was sloppy on numerous fronts, but the inability to wrap up on relatively routine tackles was disappointing.

James Bradberry whiffed on a tackle on the first drive of the game to spring D'Andre Swift on a massive 48-yard run, an ugly first moment from the new Eagle. (He more than made up for it later on.) Avonte Maddox had his ankles taken by Jared Goff of all people in the third quarter on a red zone scramble. Swift made a number of Eagles miss on a 25-yard catch-and-run to start the fourth quarter:

[NOTE:  click on link to article to view video]

It was a little ugly out there!

The Eagles have had this problem for a while now, and it looked a little better on Sunday - Kyzir White made a nice open-field tackle, Marcus Epps had a great submarine tackle for loss - but the lack of consistency on fairly basic plays can't keep happening. Against the Lions, it won't burn you. Against a good team, it will.

Pair iffy tackling with a still-too-soft defensive approach from Jonathan Gannon (the Lions were moving the ball way too easily on multiple drives Sunday) and you have the perfect equation to let teams back into games that would otherwise be no-doubter wins, just like Sunday.

The Birds have talent, but talent is only half of the equation. I need Gannon to be better, both in coaching and in strategy, or we'll have some problems down the line.

3. Still waiting for the Jalen Hurts leap

This might just be who Jalen Hurts is. 

He makes incredibly valuable plays with his legs. He can throw a solid deep ball. He takes a little too long to make decisions. Sometimes he misses straight-up wide open guys down the field. 

He's a good enough quarterback. Can he be great? I'm still waiting. 

Hurts had a solid game Sunday - 18-of-32, 243 yards, 90 rush yards and a touchdown on the ground - but he wasn't spectacular, and I felt like I was watching re-runs of his games from last season in both the good and the bad. 

We heard so much during the offseason about how he would benefit from being in the same offensive system for a second year, how he would be able to step his game up with an improved supporting cast. But I can't say I saw any of that on Sunday. He still looks like the No. 15 quarterback in the NFL, and that could be good enough to win 11 games this year but I'm still not convinced it's good enough to win multiple playoff games.

Again, like I said earlier, it's a small sample size. We'll see what the next few weeks bring. The team is still gelling. Maybe in Week 5 he'll be making faster decisions. Who knows? All I know is what I saw Sunday, and it was perfectly fine.


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Yards are yards, points are points and wins are wins. So yeah maybe it is an issue that Hurts locks in on AJ so much and maybe it does suck for Smith who has so much talent. But as long as this team outscores the opposition it doesn't really matter how you score the points. 

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