DeVonta Smith could be the Eagles’ X-Factor in Sunday’s NFC Championship game

In more ways than one, DeVonta Smith has become a bit of an underappreciated commodity in the Eagles offense.

The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark this past season, hauling in 96 catches for 1,196 yards and 7 touchdowns, but in an offense that features MVP candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts, 1,000-yard rusher Miles Sanders, fellow 1,000-yard receiver and $100 million dollar man A.J. Brown, consensus top ten tight end Dallas Goedert, and the best offensive line in professional football, Smith’s game has become underrated.

The Slim Reaper’s ability to win at all levels of the field is a paramount piece to the Eagles offense.

Smith has developed into a bit of a safety blanket for his former Alabama-turned-NFL quarterback, Jalen Hurts.

Whether blanked in a one-on-one situation or double-covered, Smith seemingly wins and when he doesn’t it’s due to his own bungle.

It isn’t commonplace across the NFL landscape to see receivers of Smith’s size win in the manner he does.

He can go through you.

He can go up over you.

He can go around you.

He can also go by you.

Combine those attributes with a refined set of route-running skills, and you have exactly what Smith is: an anomaly.

As the Eagles prepare to battle for the NFC crown against the San Fransisco 49ers, Smith will be one of the most important weapons on the field for Jalen Hurts.

Across his last seven games, Smith has amassed the following number:

  • 6 rec, 61 yds, TD
  • 7 rec, 67 yds
  • 9 rec, 115 yds
  • 8 rec, 113 yds, 2 TD
  • 5 rec, 126 yds
  • 5 rec, 64 yds, TD
  • 5 rec, 102 yds, TD

Across that same time frame, the 49ers’ pass defense has allowed the following numbers to opposing receivers:

  • CeeDee Lamb – 10 rec. 117 yards
  • DK Metcalf – 10 rec. 136 yards, 2 TD
  • A.J. Green – 3 rec. 91 yards, TD
  • Davante Adams – 7 rec. 153 yards, 2 TD
  • Terry McLaurin – 4 rec. 77 yards, TD
  • Tyler Lockett – 7 rec. 68 yards
  • Chris Godwin – 5 rec. 54 yards

The 49ers are a zone-heavy team, playing 65% of their snaps throughout the 2022 season in zone coverage (5th in the NFL).

Top cornerback Charvarius Ward doesn’t travel much with top receivers, as against Dallas last week he aligned as the left-side corner. On the season, Ward has been one of the top corners in the NFL, allowing a 56.8 completion percentage when targeted along with an 82.4 passer rating.

Sure, A.J. Brown could very well have a day against either one of the 49er starting cornerbacks, Ward and Deommodore Lenoir, and he very well may have a strong performance after catching three passes for just 22 yards in the Divisional Round vs. the Giants.

On the other hand, offensively, the Eagles have an opportunity to seek out a matchup advantage with Smith. Number two cornerback Deommodore Lenoir has allowed a 91.2 passer rating when targeted in coverage throughout the season.

In other words, Smith has a chance to keep his hot streak going.


Author: Pierrot Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email:

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