The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t been 3-0 since the start of the 2016 season. The 2022 team couldn’t be more different from the first of the Doug Pederson era. Forget close wins where the team struggles to get by, the 2022 Eagles have been busting down the door of each opponent in the first month of the season and is making quick work of them all.
Following Sunday’s 24-8 victory over Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders, the team is trending in the right direction, but they aren’t perfect. Let’s see whose stock is rising and falling after Week Three.
Stock Up: Jonathan Gannon
Jonathan Gannon was crucified on opening day for running a lax defensive scheme that the Lions made short work of. The two weeks since then have seen an uptick in blitzes, more trust in the secondary, and complete domination over excellent offenses.
Analysts and doubters are quick to discredit the Eagles’ fast start by saying their opponents are weak. In reality, the Eagles have played very talented offenses the last two weeks alone and have strategically bullied them into submission.
Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins are average quarterbacks. The weapons on each offense are in the top echelon around the rest of the league. What Jonathan Gannon has done to change up this defense and shut both offenses down has been incredibly encouraging.
Stock Down: Offensive Coaching
I’ll go on record and say the Eagles are a very well-coached team and they clearly know their identity. However, if we are to nit-pick (really the only thing to do in a 3-0 start) the offensive coaching could be better.
In the last two games, the Eagles have gotten off to 24-point first halves but then are shut out in the second half. There are really two reasons for that.
1. The coaching and play-calling have allowed the offense to take their foot off the gas or 2. Execution and play-calling are simply different when you are up by over 20. You don’t want to stretch the field when you’re up by that much.
Stock Up: DeVonta Smith
I want it on record that when DeVonta Smith was shut out on the stat sheet on opening night, I told PSN Founder and worried fan, Liam Jenkins that this would be an aberration and there’s nothing to be concerned over.
Glad to know I had it right from the beginning. DeVonta Smith played his best game as a pro on Sunday. Smith caught eight passes for 169 yards and a touchdown and turned in incredible catch after incredible catch.
It’s a joy to watch Smith play and even better seeing him and A.J Brown both getting their fair share of touches.
This passing offense is so lethal with Jalen Hurts playing the way he is and his receivers getting open on every snap.
Stock Down: Offensive Line
Maybe it’s because I put this group in higher standards than any other group in football, but I thought the offensive line was once again just plain average.
Whether it was Isaac Seumalo getting beat, or having Dallas Goedert block Jonathan Allen, the Commanders completely destroyed the Eagles’ rushing attack.
Is there cause for concern? Probably not. The Commanders’ defensive line is one of the best in football and the OL should be a lot better as the season progresses.
Still, it hasn’t been the start that fans have grown accustomed to seeing on their line.
Stock Up: Pass Rush
Boy, it helps when a quarterback is staying in the pocket for hours on end, doesn’t it? The Eagles’ pass rush got to Carson Wentz nine times and forced a fumble.
It was as if Jim Johnson was back on the sideline and the front four continued to harass a banged-up Commanders’ OL and quarterback.
Haason Reddick got through for a sack and a half, while Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox turned back the clock nicely and each got over one sack on their own.
I don’t think that level of dominance is able to be repeated many times this year simply because quarterbacks have always wanted to get the ball out quicker when playing Philly, but it’s an excellent sign to see the Eagles’ pass rush finally getting home.
Stock Up: Jalen Hurts
It’s really really hard to find a group or player that didn’t actually play well on Sunday. I watched the game back, and the lone thing that stood out to me is that Jalen Hurts is on an absolute roll.
His work to improve as a passer has completely changed the Eagles’ offense. They have become a pass-first group again and Hurts is showing deep accuracy and trust in his play-makers.
That arguably wasn’t even the best part of Hurts. He’s understanding defenses far better than last year and there’s one play to show.
Nearing the end of the first half, the Eagles had a third and short. The offense ran a pick play that had been completely blown up and could have been for a loss and a three-and-out.
Instead of leading his receiver (and getting him killed by the corner who was right behind him), Hurts threw directly at Zach Pascal’s numbers which caused him to come back for the ball. Because of this, the corner was out of position, Pascal picked up four yards after the catch, and moved the chains.
Hurts knew he needed to get that ball through a tight window and a little behind Pascal to get the first down. He did just that showing his growth as a passer and ability as a quarterback.
The Eagles won through the air Sunday, and that one play was a microcosm of why.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire