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EAGLES TRAINING CAMP ‘Gotta earn respect all over again' — Brown's mindset won't let him rest


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‘Gotta earn respect all over again' — Brown's mindset won't let him rest

A.J. Brown had a career year and the Eagles' offense was great in 2022 -- but that doesn't mean anything now

By Dave Zangaro  Published 3 hours ago


Training camp — heck, the NFL in general — is all about getting better.

You constantly hear Nick Sirianni and his fellow head coaches preaching that growth mindset day after day, year after year. Just get better. Every. Single. Day.

But then you remember how good this Eagles offense was in 2022. Remember?! They had one of the top offenses in the NFL. And behind the strength of career years from guys like Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, they made it all the way to Super Bowl LVII and came pretty darn close to winning the whole thing.

After all that, it might be pretty difficult to identify areas that still need improvement.


Brown disagreed.

"It’s not tough at all,” said Brown, who set the Eagles’ single-season receiving record in 2022. "I think if you have a complacent mindset, I think it would be tough. But that’s none of the guys on our team, none of the guys around me, especially me. I want to continue to grow, continue to get better. 

"Regardless of what happened last year, I’ve got to come out and prove it each and every year. Gotta earn respect all over again. I’m not riding on that high. Most importantly, we lost. There’s no high. Everybody knows what the goal is around here. We don’t even have to speak on it. But we know we gotta get prepared for the work and put in the work.”

The Eagles’ in 2022 had the NFL’s third-ranked offense and Brown had a career season in Year 4, catching 88 passes for 1,496 yards with 11 touchdowns. On top of that, Hurts was the MVP runner-up and Smith had his first 1,000-yard season. Even Dallas Goedert managed to have over 700 receiving yards in 12 games.

Still … 

"There’s always room for improvement,” Brown said after the Eagles’ first training camp practice of 2023. "We weren’t perfect last year. We did have a lot of good plays but we can be better.”

Here’s a look at where the Eagles finished in several major offensive categories in 2022:

Points: 3rd (28.1 points per game)
Total yards: 3rd (389.1 yards per game)
Passing yards: 9th (241.5 yards per game)
Rushing yards: 5th (147.6 yards per game)
Offensive DVOA: 3rd
Passing DVOA: 9th
Running DVOA: 1st

So, yeah, there’s some room for improvement and it’s probably in the passing game. The Eagles were a juggernaut running the football in 2022 and that had a lot to do with having a quarterback like Hurts and the best offensive line in the NFL, not to mention a Pro Bowl running back toting the rock. But there’s still some meat on the bone when it comes to the passing offense.

Some of that progression will probably come naturally with Hurts as he enters Year 3 in Sirianni’s offense in 2023. And even though the Eagles lost offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, he was replaced by quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson who has known Hurts since Hurts was 4 years old. There’s a lot of comfort and familiarity for Hurts in this offense.

And the more he sees, the better he thinks it will make him.

"I think there are tangible benefits to experience,” Hurts said. "Experience is the biggest teacher. I think personally that’s a testament to my career. From high school to college to where I am now. Just ongoing development, ongoing growth, ongoing understanding of the IQ part of it and more knowledge of the game and what we’re doing. It all goes hand in hand. I’m doing my job.”

While the Eagles lost a couple of key players on offense — running back Miles Sanders and right guard Isaac Seumalo left in free agency — they will bring back 9 of 11 starters on that side of the ball from the Super Bowl team. With more attrition on defense, the Eagles’ offense might be asked to carry the team more often in 2023.

On paper, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be up for the task.

"It’s a new journey,” Hurts said. "Obviously, we have a ton of familiarity and we’re familiar with each other but we still have to understand that we’re still, coming here the first day, still trying to set the foundation of what the identity of this team will be. That’s the main thing. Anything that’s done in the past, it really doesn’t matter. It’s about what we do now, the precedent we set now and the standard we set for ourselves moving forward. Raising that standard.”

When asked about entering his second full season with Brown and Smith, Hurts praised their sense of urgency and said he loves playing with them.

The Eagles hope that trio will be together for a long time. Hurts is signed through 2028, Brown is signed through 2026 and Smith is signed through 2024 with a fifth-year option in 2025. So this group that already had an incredible season in 2022 will be together for at least several more years. That’s exciting.

Although, as high as the ceiling appears to be, past success doesn’t mean a thing. There's plenty of work to be done.

That was part of Sirianni’s message to his team as training camp opened.

"I think it’s the message that it has been. Focus on today,” Brown said. "Don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t worry about last year. All that stuff is over with. Everybody is 0-0. Whatever happened last year doesn’t matter. Whoever you were last year doesn’t matter. You gotta come out and prove it. And this is where it starts. It begins in training camp each and every day.”


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