4 Eagles who must step up in MNF clash against the Vikings

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick (7) prepares to rush during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles’ season opening win was not quite as easy as many fans would have liked, but a win is a win. With that said, there are some players that need to step up this week if the team is going to beat a much improved Vikings squad. 

DeVonta Smith

I feel as though Smith’s inclusion on this list goes without hesitation. As one Eagles wide receiver got off to a blistering start, the other one was absolutely nowhere to be found. As someone who spent a large part of the offseason hyping up the player he could be, this was a very disappointing performance. However, I don’t expect the former Heisman winner to be quiet for very long.

Nick Sirianni seems to like getting players involved quickly after bad games so I expect to see DeVonta Smith early and often on Monday night. Of the players on this list, Smith is the one I feel most confident will have a legitimate bounce back game. You can only keep a player of his caliber down for so long until eventually the talent just comes bursting out.

Quez Watkins

Quez Watkins is in on this list for similar reasons to DeVonta Smith. Watkins played in over 50% of the offensive snaps last Sunday but was completely invisible except for when he was seen in the bottom of the TV screen celebrating A.J Brown’s deep ball.

For an offense that scored 31 points, it is extremely strange that the number 2 and 3 receivers combined for 0 catches and 0 yards. Again, I don’t expect Quez to stay down for very long, but it is not exactly the best start to a season with high expectations. Any kind of catch will be an improvement over last week and much like Smith, I would expect Sirianni and Jalen Hurts to try and look his way early against Minnesota. A.J Brown will likely have a lot of attention after that week 1 performance so maybe Quez is able to sneak by the defense for a home run this weekend.

Javon Hargrave

Hargrave is one of the better interior defensive linemen in the NFL, but he was silent in week one. Again, it is only one game but it is still worth noting how much of a nonfactor he was. Oftentimes when a defensive tackle isn’t noticeable in the pass rush, you can look at the run game and say he was impactful there, but Hargrave was also pretty light in that area.

He only amassed 2 solo tackles in 55% of the defensive snaps. The Eagles run defense was gashed all afternoon and Hargrave was on the field for a lot of big plays, unable to clog up running lanes. Last season he came out of the gate fast, getting 6 sacks in his first 5 games. If the Eagles defense is going to be great this season, they need that kind of production out of Javon Hargrave going forward.

Haason Reddick

. As the premier free agent signing by the Eagles this offseason, Reddick was viewed as a game-changing player at linebacker who can also rush the pass extremely well. In his first game playing for his hometown team, he did not live up to that billing, with only 2 combined tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss, in 68% of defensive snaps.

For someone that is on the field that much, 2 tackles is not very much to show for. The Detroit offensive line is one of the better in the league so hopefully it was just a mix of good competition and getting used to playing in a new system. The Eagles really need their new heart and soul of the defense to take advantage of a not-so-great Minnesota offensive line, and prove he’s the same guy who has 23.5 sacks over the last 2 seasons.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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