For the second straight week, the Philadelphia Eagles did not play particularly well. And for the second straight week, how they played didn’t matter: they still won.
A second straight 2-0 mark has been the highlight of a team still finding their identity. Think about how good this team will be when they begin to hit their stride.
Despite the positives, there was plenty that was good and plenty to work on after two games in five days. Let’s take a look at the biggest takeaways from Philadelphia’s 34-28 win over the hapless Vikings Thursday night.
The Defensive Line is 2017-level good
It’s only been two weeks, but the Eagles’ defensive line has been nothing short of dominant so far. Going against the Vikings and Patriots, the interior defensive line has given up less than three yards a carry, and has forced both teams to be one-dimensional.
The team may not have a ton of sacks so far, but the entire group has been excellent thanks to the improved play of Jordan Davis and Josh Sweat. Sweat is on pace for a First-Team All-Pro nod and Davis is showing just how improved he is in his first full season in the NFL.
Offensive Adjustments show hope for 2023
I think it’s fair to say that no one is happier to not have to face a Bill Belichick-mind defense for the rest of the year than offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. Johnson struggled through six quarters as the team’s offensive play-caller. It felt that he was more reactionary to Minnesota’s Cover-0 defensive standpoint than the opposite.
Then Johnson decided to go back to the thing Philadelphia always does well: run.
The Eagles ran for 259 yards with an elite 5.4 yards per carry. By running the ball effectively, the passing offense began to succeed as well. The adjustments the Eagles made in the second half were extremely good to see because it showed the coaching staff can be better than what they currently are.
The group will need time, but 34 points is 34 points. And 2-0 is 2-0.
D’Andre Swift highlights strong offseason for the Eagles
How the heck did DeAndre Swift just have two touches against New England?!
Jokes aside, the draft-day trade to bring the former Lion running back has already looked like a clear steal. Swift had over 170 yards rushing – the first back to tally that mark since the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy and was the main reason Philly won on Thursday.
Swift’s trade wasn’t the only positive player from this year’s draft night though. Jalen Carter was stupendous for the second straight week, and Sydney Brown has shown that he deserves to receive more playing time as injuries in the secondary mount up.
Nolan Smith hasn’t received a lot of playing time and Tyler Steen has been inactive through two weeks, but the Eagles 2023 draft class has already been highly impressive.
Jalen Hurts will be just fine
Through six quarters, panic spread throughout the city of Philadelphia that Hurts was not performing close to his 2022 caliber of play.
That went away in the second half.
Hurts found DeVonta Smith deep for a score and made the correct reads for the rest of the contest to give the team a chance to win. Without playing in the preseason, and having a new play-caller, rust was always going to be a factor. It appears the MVP runner-up has finally gotten back to where the team and fanbase expect him to be.
Overall, outside of his bad interception, 18/23 passing for over eight yards a pass is more than acceptable against a tough defensive mind like Brian Flores.
Sean Desai has been extremely impressive
Philadelphia had five starters on the defensive side out with injuries on Thursday. The fact that the defense was still able to force four turnovers and 14 points through three quarters is highly impressive.
Desai hasn’t had the personnel to succeed so far, but he’s used his strong defensive line to dictate the pace of play through two games. He’s blitzed at great times and hasn’t seemed overwhelmed at all.
In contrast to where Jonathan Gannon was just last season, the Eagles’ defense seems to be much better off with Desai at the helm.
AP Photo/Derik Hamilton