PHILADELPHIA — For the second time in five days, the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t have the prettiest outing in their 34-28 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. A win is a win in the National Football League, regardless.
The Eagles weren’t clean on offense and were down four starters on defense at one point. Their starting off-ball linebackers and safeties weren’t even on the team last season, and they had to start a cornerback who played just 20 career defensive snaps heading into this game (Josh Jobe).
The Vikings got their yards and points, but the Eagles did enough on both sides of the ball to win and get to 2-0. This victory had plenty of storylines worth revisiting, whether they were overreactions or not.
The A.J. Brown-Jalen Hurts sideline dilemma will linger
Overreaction or Reality: Overreaction
For those who didn’t see on the broadcast, Brown and Hurts had a conversation on the sidelines, resulting in Eagles coach Nick Sirianni having to pull Brown to the side and talk to him. The assumption is Brown was frustrated over the lack of targets and yards, as he finished with just four catches for 29 yards on the night. The Eagles even tried to force feed Brown for a touchdown on the next series, only to go three-and-out and allow the Vikings to cut the lead to a one-score game shortly after.
Much will be made of this, especially with Brown not at his locker when the locker room was open to reporters. Jalen Hurts didn’t discuss the situation much in his press conference, while DeVonta Smith denied anything existed.
Right now, it’s much ado about nothing. Brown wants his targets and wants a good game, but the sideline issue with Hurts is a thing until it isn’t. This will be a problem if Brown hashes out on the sideline later in the season, making this thing grow. Brown can nip the issue in the bud when he’s available next week.
DeAndre Swift is RB1
Overreaction or reality: Reality
What else must Swift do to earn the No. 1 running back job now? In his first start with the Eagles (and first start back in his hometown, no less), Swift amassed 28 carries for a career-high 175 yards (6.3 yards per carry), along with the game-sealing 43-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
Swift’s 175 yards rushing were the most by any Eagles player since LeSean McCoy in 2013. The Eagles have recorded 250 rush yards and three rushing touchdowns in a game four times since the start of last season, doubling the amount of any other team in the NFL over that span.
The Eagles have been looking for someone to take the mantle of RB1 throughout training camp. Kenneth Gainwell got his shot in Week 1, but injured ribs allowed Swift the opportunity. The Eagles can’t limit Swift now, as Swift getting just two touches in Week 1 is even more foolish than before.
Swift is the No. 1 running back, whether the Eagles are ready to admit it.
Jalen Hurts is struggling in Brian Johnson’s offense
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction
This isn’t the same Hurts the Eagles are accustomed to seeing, at least through the first two games. Hurts did finish 18 of 23 for 193 yards with a touchdown and an interception (98.0 rating), but he has looked indecisive on his throws. Hurts has been just looking at his first read too much and not going through his progressions.
Hurts beat Brian Flores’ blitz a few times, the main being Devonta Smith’s 63-yard touchdown reception. He also hit Smith for a 54-yard completion, although that pass looked underthrown. Outside of those two passes to Smith, Hurts was 16 of 21 for 76 yards with an interception, a poor throw he forced across the middle into double coverage.
Even the running lanes for Hurts were taken away. Sure, Hurts scored two touchdowns, but he only averaged 2.9 yards per carry.
Hurts can’t seem to get into a rhythm. Whether that’s from lack of preseason reps, Johnson’s offensive scheme, the defensive coordinators he was facing, or inconsistency — Hurts hasn’t been the 2022 version of himself yet. Hurts hasn’t been good, but he hasn’t been bad either.
Perhaps 10 days off will help get Hurts right.
Good quarterbacks are going to torch the Eagles pass defense
Overreaction or reality: Overreaction
Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns Thursday night, the second quarterback in five days to throw for 300-plus yards and three-plus touchdowns against the Eagles secondary. The pass defense certainly isn’t what it was last season, yet there’s no need to panic.
The Eagles were down a starting cornerback (James Bradberry), a starting safety (Reed Blankenship), and starting nickel corner Avonte Maddox left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury. The secondary had Darius Slay and Josh Jobe (20 career defensive snaps entering Thursday) on the outside corner. Mario Goodrich was in the slot (he never played a defensive snap until Thursday), while Terrell Edmunds and Justin Evans were at safety (both weren’t on the team last year). Sydney Brown even saw his first defensive snaps in his second career game.
All things considered, the Eagles held their own against a quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly like Cousins. Bradberry and Blankenship should be back in 10 days, but the extent of Maddox’s injury will have to wait.
This secondary is banged up, but they make crucial plays when needed. Can’t be upset with how they’re handling things, given all the injuries on the back end. They also helped the defense force four turnovers, which led to 10 points.
Give credit where credit is due.