How have these Eagles improved over the last 2 weeks?

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Eagles
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)

Before Monday night’s game I listed out 4 players, 2 offensive and 2 defensive, who I believed needed to step up in order for the Eagles to beat a good Vikings team. In this piece, I’m going to be looking back at how they performed versus expectations that were placed on them, and based on the results, there is some very encouraging growth.

DeVonta Smith

The 2nd year receiver finally got going in this game and he made sure everyone remembered that he was still a dangerous weapon for this team. He hauled in all 7 of his targets for 80 yards, 5 of which were for first downs. He also played the most snaps of any offensive skill position player this week, with 72, good for 99% of all offensive plays.

Sirianni, Steichen and Hurts all seemed to make it a priority to get him the ball as he grabbed the first pass of the game for the Eagles. The passing game was very balanced so Smith didn’t heavily outproduce anyone else but he was extremely effective when he needed to be, and I expect him to get more comfortable in the offense each week.

Quez Watkins

The other wide receiver that didn’t have a catch in week 1 broke out in a big way as well on Monday night. Quez was the deep threat that the Eagles needed him to be to keep the defense honest. Early in the second quarter, Hurts found Watkins wide open for a 53 yard touchdown to take the top of the Vikings secondary and sent the Linc into an absolute frenzy.

Overall, he caught 2 passes for 69 yards in 53% of the snaps, and like Smith, no drops. Quez is the definitive 4th pass catching option on the Eagles so he’s not going to consistently get a lot of targets but as long as he can take advantage of the chances he’s given and play with speed, he adds an extra vertical element to the Eagles offense.

Javon Hargrave

Hargrave by the numbers didn’t have a real uptick in production but he does get some sort of credit because the Eagles’ defense as a whole was dominant. The defensive tackle play specifically was very good, as Hargrave was part of the front that limited Dalvin Cook to just 17 rushing and 2.8 yards per attempt.

I would still like Hargrave to get more interior pressure but it’s hard to complain a lot when the defense comes off a performance like this. He did manage 1 QB hit in this game so maybe that’s a sign of things to come in future weeks.

Haason Reddick

In week 1, I would say that Reddick had an uninspiring Eagles debut. He didn’t make any mistakes but he also didn’t make any noticeable plays. In week 2, he was definitely more noticeable in both ways. I would say the start of the game did not go well for the Philly-area native, as he was consistently being dropped back into coverage.
He did make one nice pass breakup but also got burned a few times by tight ends, especially on the drive where Minnesota scored. After the touchdown, Gannon seemed to change things up and use him more effectively as a pass rusher, both lining up on the ends and being sent as a blitzer.

In the second half there were multiple times where Haason Reddick rushed all the way to Cousins and got pressure, but the ball was thrown right before he got home. I liked what I saw from Reddick this week and think he is primed for a breakout game sometime soon.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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