Biggest takeaways from the Eagles week 1 win over the Patriots

Eagles darius slay
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) runs into the end zone for a touchdown as he is pursued by New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) and guard Sidy Sow (62) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Mark Stockwell)

The Philadelphia Eagles weren’t the only contender to open their season in disappointing fashion. Unlike most of the others though, they were able to get the win in a hostile crowd.

Philadelphia used the legs of Jake Elliott and the clutch play of their young “Dawgs” to outlast a feisty and new-look Patriots unit that was celebrating the return of future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady.

While many can use Sunday’s 25-20 win as a way to spark fear in the potential demise of the team, there were still plenty of takeaways from a win such as that. Let’s get to them now.

Eagles injury luck will not return in 2023

New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) is pursued by Philadelphia Eagles safety Reed Blankenship, left, as he scores a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Mac Jones in the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Hey, remember how the 2022 Eagles rarely had to deal with injuries, and when they did, they had the depth to overcome those issues?

That may not happen in 2023.

If there is a chief takeaway from Sunday’s win is that beating Belichick came at a massive cost at several key positions. Nakobe Dean is lost for at least a month with a foot injury while James Bradberry will “likely” miss Thursday night’s contest against Minnesota with a concussion. Add in a scare to Fletcher Cox and that’s three defensive players who got hurt and had to leave the game against New England.

The depth at linebacker is thin, and the corners behind Bradberry are very inexperienced. It’s going to take a masterclass defensive effort from Sean Desai to make it through Thursday with a win, or without any more injuries.

Howie Roseman was right to target Georgia in NFL Draft

Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith
Newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles’ Nolan Smith, right, and Jalen Carter speak during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Just as the injuries were a key negative, the play of the Georgia Bulldogs (and the 2023 draft class in general) was very encouraging. Whether it was Jordan Davis recording the first sack of his NFL career, Sydney Brown showing excellent speed and skill, or Nolan Smith getting some time, it was a very encouraging day for the young players.

The big winner though was Jalen Carter. Carter led the team in pressures, had half a sack, and was arguably the best defensive player on the field for Philadelphia.

A reminder, Carter might have just won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award already. He was that dominant.

Offensive gameplan will take time to develop

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, right, hands off to running back Kenneth Gainwell, left, in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

In hindsight, Brian Johnson’s debut as a play-caller couldn’t have gone against a tougher opponent. Against New England and the defensive genius that is Belichick, Johnson struggled to find a tempo to his calls and had the Eagles offense stuck in the mud for the entire game.

It wasn’t always on Johnson either. Jalen Hurts had his worst game from a quarterback standpoint since 2021. He struggled to read the defense and looked genuinely confused at what he was seeing.

Again, there may not be a better coach in football than Belichick so this should be expected.

Sunday afternoon showed that the transition from Shane Steichen to Johnson won’t be as seamless as people thought and that is ok. This is a new team. They are all trying to figure each other out in this new season. Also, NFL teams will have new ways to guard the Eagles as the year goes on. It’s important to get these kind of games out of the way early so you can hit your stride later on.

Offensive Line has worst game in decades

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith, center, celebrates after his touchdown with offensive tackle Lane Johnson, left, and center Cam Jurgens, right, in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

There aren’t many games we have seen Lane Johnson struggle in. Sunday was probably the worst since his rookie season. Johnson was beat repeatedly by a Patriots onslaught on the defensive line unlike many have seen in recent years.

He wasn’t the only one either. Jordan Mailata had the lowest Pro Football Focus grade of any lineman on the team and was decimated by Matthew Judon. No one in the group played particularly well though. They struggled to dominate in the run and had Hurts running for his life for most of the contest.

As always though, Week 1 (without preseason work) is not usually a microcosm of poor performances. The line is still excellent and went against arguably the greatest defensive mind in football. Jeff Stoutland and his group will adjust and that will make the group better throughout the year.

The Eagles are STILL very good

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith, left, is pursued by New England Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones, right, as he scores on a touchdown pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Their quarterback had his worst game in years, the offensive line was the worst they’ve been in decades, and the middle of the field was targeted over and over by a very mediocre offense.

How the hell did the Eagles win that game?

The answer, in fact, is very simple. With all the problems with their young coordinators, with all the mental mistakes, they still had more talent than the Patriots and that talent overwhelmed them when it mattered most. It may not have been pretty, but the rest of the top teams in football lost while the Eagles won.

That, at its core, shows that the Eagles can win games while not at their best. It’s a clear marking of a very good football team.

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AP Photo/Mark Stockwell