What a game, huh? Writing this at 3 p.m. after staying up till 5 a.m. watching the game (I live in the U.K.), I feel the sense of euphoria I’ve been needing as an Eagles fan. There’s no greater feeling than beating good NFC teams at home during a primetime game, and this matchup showcased everything exciting about the Eagles.
Here are my five takeaways from the game under the lights:
5) The Passing Game Stepped Up
The Eagles have had a few allegations thrown at them. For example, “they’re a one trick pony” – a fact brought up by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman during the game last night. Can the Eagles win the game by throwing the ball and not relying on Hurts running out of the pocket into first downs?
Well, it’s safe to say the Eagles beat those allegations in emphatic fashion. The Eagles receiving core ending the day with a cumulative 333 yards whilst the run game *ONLY* got 163 is the sort of balance I’ve been clamouring for.
This game had shades of the matchup with the Denver Broncos last year, where the Eagles went up against a defense notorious for stopping the run with a good secondary, and demolished them with a balanced running and passing attack.
Jalen Hurts was fantastic, something I’ll get on to soon. The throw to Quez Watkins was everything I’ve been asking for – he noticed the safety creeping towards the tight end and let it rip for a 53-yard touchdown at the beginning of the 2nd quarter.
However (and there is a however), the Eagles are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL right now. I get that the officials were unnecessarily flag happy yesterday but the offensive line, for the second week in a row, looked undisciplined.
I will say, a big proponent of that in my opinion, was the lack of pre-season snaps they had together. Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson played some snaps, but had to be side-lined due to injury and/or concussions. Landon Dickerson played sure, but Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo barely did. I expect them to get better with more reps but it’s something they have to clean up as a unit.
4) Defensive Line Returning to Form
Since Jim Schwartz left the Eagles, it’s safe to say the DL has had a pretty rough time under Jonathan Gannon. Pressure numbers were some of the worst in the NFL last season and they were gashed in the run game. All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox looked like a shadow of his former Pro-Bowl self. This game proved that they can perform to an elite level and flex the muscles they have.
As a unit, they only registered two sacks on Kirk Cousins, but they also limited the ever dangerous Dalvin Cook to just 17 yards and made Kirk Cousins the Vikings’ leading rusher with 20 yards. Last week, there was a lot of conversation surrounding Jordan Davis and how he didn’t play nearly enough snaps. However, yesterday as of the third quarter, Davis played some 57% of the defensive snaps with both Cox and Hargrave in a 5 man front. A much better showing by Gannon.
3) Just How Good Are The Eagles?
It’s safe to say the NFC is a bit of a free for all in 2022. While the AFC has some of the best offenses in the NFL, the NFC is filled with gritty teams with clear problems. This is something the Eagles have everyone re-evaluating heading into a week 3 division game against Carson Wentz and the Commanders.
From my point of view, the Buccaneers will always scare me, with the likes of Vita Vea, Tom Brady and Mike “MMA” Evans. Not to mention the 49ers and Rams are still elite. However, as far as offenses go, the Eagles are clearly one of the best teams in football.
Whether or not they are contenders is a conversation to have after Thanksgiving, but I think the Eagles are in a good place as it currently stands.
2) Damn, Slay Queen!
I don’t think I need to say much for this section, in truth everyone stopped reading at “Slay Queen.” But I want to mention the elite cornerback play we saw from Slay against a top 5 wide-out in Justin Jefferson.
With two interceptions, numerous PBUs, and a passer rating drop-off when targeted, it’s fair to say Slay is finally getting the recognition he deserves. This is an incredible story to me, all those years in Detroit with Matt Patricia really put a downer on the ever cheeky Slay, but performing that well against Jefferson the same year as being voted as a team captain for the first time in his career is an incredible storyline.
DPOY candidate? I’m not sure, but it’s a worthy bet!
1) Hurts So Good
Jalen Hurts was elite. The Oklahoma alum – who many in Alabama would regard as one of theirs, recorded one of his (if not THE) best nights as a starting QB in the NFL. He showcased the true power of a dual threat QB that we’ve seen Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray do just this weekend. He has the power of a 250 pound fullback and the agility and running instincts of a running back. Both of his running touchdowns had me doing Pat McAfee impressions at 3 in the morning.
In most weeks, we probably stop there. Commenting how his passing is good but we long to see more from him. But I’m happy to say that his passing was perhaps even better than his running.
All night he was reading the Vikings defense, trusting his receivers and not trying to force the ball forward. He got the necessary yardage from all of his receivers. Compared to the Lions game, where A.J. Brown was the entire receiving offense, having Hurts throw numerous times to Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith, Zach Pascal, Quez, the running backs, in addition to Brown, is a sign of an offense in motion.
I also want to mention, Hurts’ footwork has been much better this season and last night showcased his improved velocity and accuracy when getting his feet set right.
This is a QB with the exact mindset I clamor for in a QB. Arm strength is one thing, but the traits that have made Mahomes, Allen, and Herbert elite aren’t purely because they throw well, they want to improve. Hurts isn’t at their level by any means, but the humility and willingness to improve and then putting that on display for everyone to see is incredible.
The Eagles will be back against the Washington Commanders at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Cover Image Credit: Matt Rourke/AP