The Philadelphia Eagles are now 8-0 and firing on all cylinders. Well, nearly all cylinders. With an offense brimming with star potential, there was always going to be a fall guy. The addition of A.J Brown was always going to drastically change the ball distribution in Philadelphia and unfortunately for DeVonta Smith, his targets have dropped significantly over the past month. The good news is that the Eagles don’t seem to be concerned.
DeVonta Smith is a star in the making
The Eagles hit the jackpot when they drafted DeVonta Smith. He broke the franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie last year, eclipsing DeSean Jackson’s previous total. Bringing A.J Brown, a star wideout in his own right, was always going to be an intriguing landscape and week 1 definitely painted an eyebrow-raising picture.
A sign of things to come for DeVonta Smith?
A.J Brown exploded while Smitty had 0 receptions and 0 yards. I wrote about the potential of one wideout having to take the backseat in this tandem all offseason and the alarm bells were ringing after that opening win. Fortunately, things soon changed. 80 yards in game 2 and a dominant 169-yard outing in game 3 certainly proved that the Eagles can find a balance…but since then, things have tailed off.
DeVonta Smith has 12 receptions over the last 3 weeks for a total of 99 receiving yards. A.J Brown has 15 receptions for 282 yards. The difference not only in production, but how each wideout is being used, could not be any more different.
We’ve seen countless scenarios in the past where sparks fly. NFL wideouts have egos and who can blame them. They’re the elite of the elite, commanding top-tier paydays and making highlight-reel plays. The stars of the show. It takes a rare breed of player to stay humble when the ball isn’t finding its way to them. The Eagles believe they have that in DeVonta Smith.
Shane Steichen chimes in
“No, he’s been great. He’s selfless.” Said Shaine Steichen. “He knows that his time is going to come around again. It’s an ultimate team game, and we’re in it to win football games. Those guys know that it’s going to come around to them, whether it could be this week, it might be next week, we don’t know, but those guys understand that, that we are trying to win, and when it’s their time to get the ball, they’re going to make plays.”
In theory, a selfless offense can work. All it takes is one look at the NBA’s Golden State Warriors to see a prime example. If Steph Curry can’t get hot, he’s got Klay Thompson to pick up the slack. If Klay is covered, there’s a physical big man in Draymond Green. If Draymond can’t go, they look to Jordan Poole. It’s the same basic premise, but one that requires all egos to be checked at the doorstep…something that proved to be impossible under the previous regime.
Steichen may well be correct and winning really does cure all. DeVonta Smith is a product of Alabama, arguably the most intense winning culture in all of college football and one that cultivated the mentality of Jalen Hurts too. Until the Eagles lose a game or two, everything is likely going to be fine. But if the Eagles begin to falter and Smith is still not getting the kind of air traffic a receiver of his caliber deserves, that’s when his mentality, his selflessness, and his ability to control some very understandable frustrations will be tested.
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