Well, it wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.
The Philadelphia Eagles opened their season on the road against the Detroit Lions and scraped together a win, 38-35. There’s a lot to be excited about for the improved Eagles, including the monumental draft trade for A.J. Brown who earned himself 155 yards in his Eagles debut. There are also new defensive weapons like Kyzir White and James Bradberry, who helped score a defensive touchdown in the third quarter.
The team has a long way to go to get to the standard the team (and Eagles fans) want them to be. Here are three highs (and three lows) from the Week 1 matchup.
Hurts’ getting out the pocket + arm strength
One thing that Jalen Hurts struggled with last season is his poor pocket presence. Now (and during preseason) Hurts looked so much better in the pocket and managed to get out fast when necessary. Other than a single sack, Hurts pretty much excelled in getting down the field. He kept plays and drives alive with his feet, something not many quarterbacks do or do well. Hurts made major improvements, which is something to be excited about as the season goes on.
A conversation we need to put to rest is Hurts’ arm strength. Not even talking about the Hurts-to-Brown 54-yard pass this past weekend, but last season, Hurts threw to Quez Watkins for a 91-yard completion. Should Hurts be able to do this more often? Yes, of course. But to flat-out discuss his arm strength as poor or mediocre is not much of a valid point anymore.
New and young weapons doing new weapons things
The Eagles acquired a bunch of young veterans and rookies in the offseason that thrived in just the first game alone. Zech McPhearson, who was named the Special Teams Player of the Week, recovered a surprise onside kick by the Lions. Kyzir White and James Bradberry initiated a tip and pick-six. A.J. Brown put up 128 yards in the first half of his Eagles debut. These guys, and more that helped the team, are exciting additions to help out the Eagles in areas they struggled last season.
Better offensive rotations
Granted that just about everyone was healthy, it was awesome seeing the offense get rotated better. We saw just about everyone on the field and got the ball moving efficiently as the game went on. Miles Sanders got his first touchdown in years and Quez Watkins was returning punts. It’s refreshing to see that the offense is getting rotated and will help to continue keeping from the offense getting overworked and potentially injured.
Gannon is an issue
There is no defensive talent issue, it’s utilizing the defensive talent that is the issue. This may be a hot take, but Jonathan Gannon seems like the only guy on the Eagles who did not make progress from last season. The team allowed the Lions to put up 35 points, especially 14 points in the fourth quarter en route to a comeback. When Jordan Davis was on the field, the defense allowed 8 fewer yards than when he was off the field. That should speak for itself.
It was the Lions. The LIONS. The 3-13-1 Lions. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the fact that the Eagles struggled against the Lions. That being said, I do realize it’s only the beginning of the season, but the Eagles are supposed to have an easier schedule this year. I need to see how the Eagles compete against someone, like the Vikings and Packers, who will give them a run for their money just to see how the Birds would hold up in playoffs.
Last season, the Eagles struggled with racking up penalties the first few weeks of the season. It’s not unusual as the team is finding its footing again, but it should be kept to a minimum. False starts should not be happening. Personal fouls (though I’m not harping on them because the team was defending Hurts) should not be happening that often. Last season, the Eagles were a heavily penalized team the first few weeks. They need to clean this up quickly so the team can focus on other issues going on.
Photo: Lon Horwedel/AP Photo