Eagles Notes: Five takeaways from the 38-35 shootout in Detroit
It was closer than they probably would’ve liked, but the Eagles edged out a win over a determined Lions team Sunday afternoon, 38-35.
After building a 17-point cushion, the Philly defense failed to keep Detroit at bay and allowed them to hang around until the very end.
Here are my five takeaways from the Eagles’ Week 1 victory.
AJ Brown shines in Philly debut
If his $100M extension wasn’t already an indication, AJ Brown is the clear focal point of Philadelphia’s offense. Jalen Hurts targeted him early and often, finding Brown six times for 128 yards in the first half alone, third-most in team history behind Terrell Owens and Kevin Curtis.
The ex-Titan was sensational throughout, using his strong frame to catch balls in traffic and drag defenders for yards at a time. Brown finished the day with ten catches on 13 targets for 155 yards, the first of many dominant performances in an Eagles uniform.
🎥 Every reception from AJ Brown’s 10-catch, 155-yard Eagles debut. pic.twitter.com/Zjn0PqVb7a— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) September 11, 2022
Jalen Hurts, rushing attack doesn’t skip a beat
Much was made about the Eagles’ ground game heading into the year. Would Nick Sirianni go away from the run to become more pass-oriented? We got out answer pretty early with Jalen Hurts rushing the football on the first two plays from scrimmage.
Hurts bailed out the Eagles’ offense multiple times with his legs, racking up 90 total rushing yards and a TD. When Detroit had sticky coverage downfield, the 24-year-old QB made them pay. Regardless of the perception surrounding rushing quarterbacks, the Eagles don’t win this game without Hurts’ mobility.
Miles Sanders also left his mark, rushing for 96 yards and a TD — his first score since December of 2020. His 24-yard pickup with two minutes remaining propelled the Eagles to victory — a sign that the No. 1 rushing offense from last season is still alive and well.
Miles Sanders, thank you! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/fQUZuM9LIj— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) September 11, 2022
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Eagles defense gashed by the run
If anyone’s seat is on fire, it’s Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon. His defense had no answers for D’Andre Swift, who ran all over the place for 144 yards, including a 50-yarder on the opening drive. The Lions were 9/14 on 3rd down and dropped 35 points without top rookie WR Jameson Williams.
The Eagles had a 31-14 lead early in the 3rd quarter and Detroit looked all but dead in the water. Gannon’s defense got too conservative, allowing Detroit to execute a 14-play, 75-yard drive to keep the game close. So close that Hurts had to seal it on a 4th-down QB sneak.
It’s Week 1 and you can’t draw any concrete conclusions just yet — but if Gannon doesn’t tighten up soon, his head coaching aspirations may not come so easily.
Where was Jordan Davis?
The Eagles sure could’ve used a 340-pound monster to help contain the run — oh wait; they traded up for one in April’s draft. Why Jordan Davis only saw 22 defensive snaps yesterday is beyond me. I understand he’s a rookie, but the whole point of drafting Davis was to create pressure up the middle on early downs.
The Eagles allowed just 2.9 yards per carry when Davis was on the field. They allowed 10.0 YPC when he was on the sidelines. Gannon has the personnel to thrive this season; he needs to start using it.
Eagles giving snaps to Marlon Tuipulotu and Milton Williams before Jordan Davis?— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) September 11, 2022
Don’t worry about DeVonta Smith
Last year’s leading receiver recorded zero catches on just four targets yesterday, and the “staring down one guy” narratives are already flying. I wouldn’t be too concerned.
Yes, AJ Brown led the target share by a wide margin, but no film was available of how Philly would use him and Sirianni took advantage. As the season progresses, Smith will have his mismatches to expose. There’s only one ball to go around, and when the Eagles run for 200+ yards, you’re not going to have stellar games from every player.
Smitty will get his.
Before heading out to the podium, #Eagles Jalen Hurts passed DeVonta Smith inside the locker room. Hurts gave Smith a pat on the back, and told him: "That's a dub! You gon' get yours, too."— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) September 11, 2022
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images