Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles are in elite company amongst the greatest teams in franchise history, but also among the top teams in NFL history. A 35-13 blowout win over the lowly Pittsburgh Steelers moved the Eagles to 7-0 and a two-game lead over the rest of their NFC East opponents.
There was plenty to like, a lot to fawn over, and even a few things to critique on the team’s latest win as they get set for a Thursday night game against the Houston Texans.
Stock Up: AJ Brown
The Eagles have not had a wide receiver who was bigger and stronger than opposing cornerbacks since Terrell Owens in 2004. AJ Brown is on pace to completely shatter much of Owens’ records in his first year in Philadelphia.
The Steelers had a banged-up secondary going into the contest, but it meant little because not even the league’s top corners have been able to solve Brown. The former Titan caught three touchdown passes, almost have a fourth, and showed his ability to win at the line of scrimmage in a bevy of ways.
We will get to his QB later, but AJ Brown was one of the best players on the field Sunday.
Stock Down: Special Teams
We are getting to a point where it won’t be if the special teams units cost the Eagles a game, but when. Michael Clay is a good coach, but his overall units have been extremely poor throughout the season and especially on Sunday.
There was Brandon Graham trying to make the offensive line jump, being called for a penalty that ultimately led to the Eagles giving up 7. There was Pittsburgh running a fake on the Eagles’ defense and converting effortlessly.
Zech McPhearson did have a great play in punt coverage, but as a group, the Eagles’ special teams units need to figure out their roles and execute soon or people will be losing their jobs.
Stock Up: Jalen Hurts
It’s no longer a question of if the Eagles will extend their former second-round pick, but when. The leadership intangibles were always there for Hurts, but the talent is now starting to match. Questions of arm strength are long gone after Hurts completed dime after dime downfield, and his accuracy wasn’t even at his best but was still lightyears better than where he was last season.
Jalen Hurts plays mistake-free football. Does that mean he’ll run into sacks instead of forcing a ball downfield? Absolutely. But it keeps the momentum on the Eagles’ side and you can see it clearly works well for him.
Hurts was very good on Sunday.
Stock Down: Eagles OL
The Eagles’ offensive line is one of the best units in football. Yet on Sunday they certainly didn’t play like it. Jordan Mailata was beat repeatedly and gave up a sack, Lane Johnson gave up a pressure, and there were some serious miscommunications all along the group.
This isn’t a panic post. If there’s one group that can figure out what went wrong, it’s Jeff Stoutland’s boys. This is a great offensive line that simply didn’t play well Sunday.
Stock Up: Javon Hargrave
The Eagles’ defensive tackle has been overshadowed this season due to the emergence of Jordan Davis and Fletcher Cox.
Hargrave had one of his best games as an Eagle on Sunday. Contest pressures, stout run defense, and a total of two sacks helped Hargrave beat his former team and look good while doing it. With Jordan Davis sidelined for at least a month and a half, it’s clear the Eagles will need Hargrave to produce similar to that on Sunday if they wish to continue their unbeaten run.
Stock Up: Coaching Staff
Philadelphia’s coaching staff, on both sides of the football, had the team prepared and ready coming off the bye week. On offense, Shane Steichen called an aggressive game while Jonathan Gannon made key second-half adjustments to suffocate the Steelers’ rookie quarterback.
It’s everything you wanted to see against an inferior opponent. It also helps that Nick Siriani was preaching all week that the team needed to come out strong. It’s unclear how many coordinators and coaches the Eagles will potentially lose after the season, but Sirianni’s key point of relationships tells me that whoever is lost in Philly, will most assuredly be replaced by top talent as well.
This coaching staff is young and still very talented.
AP Photo/Derik Hamilton