The Eagles are 2-0 and things are about to get real fun real quick if they keep playing like they did on Monday night in South Philly.
The Birds already had quite the bandwagon, but this wild ride on Minnesota on national television will turn heads even more. Both sides of the ball played. The quarterback looked sharp as ever.
And it’s the perfect time to release spicy takes in response to 120 minutes of game tape.
1. Jalen Hurts is an MVP candidate
Josh Allen. Patrick Mahomes. Jalen hurts.
For two weeks of the 2022 NFL regular season, these are your top MVP candidates.
Hurts’ spectacular performance on Monday Night Football, by far the best game of his young professional career, should catapult him into the MVP conversation all too soon.
Is it only September? Sure! Hundreds of things will change by the end of the year. We do not care! In two games, Hurts made a handful of explosive plays, led the offense to 62 total points and generally looked like a significantly better version of himself compared to last year.
Jalen Hurts may have arrived Monday night, and he did it in style.
He did it with bigger and smaller games. There were the obvious highlight contributions, like his bomb at Quez Watkins and his bulldozer touchdown run to give the Birds two scores in the second quarter:
There were also smaller plays, like this excellent first-quarter third-down conversion with an accurate completion to AJ Brown in a tight window:
He did it all on Monday night. He ran with power, he made the short throws easy on the flats, he worked in the middle (!) of the court, he took shots and looked fully confident and at ease in his second year in Nick Sirianni’s offense.
And just in case you think the MVP discussion might be a little early, it looks like I’m not alone:
After last week’s victory, I still wanted to see more. Injuries brought more.
333 passing yards. 57 yards rushing. Three touchdowns in total. He was absolutely brilliant in this victory.
If he can be even 90% of that over an entire season, he’s more than The Guy. He can really be an elite.
2. The defense is fine
There was quite a twist after the Lions snagged 35 points from the Eagles in Week 1. The pass rush did nothing, the coverage was soft and it felt like Jonathan Gannon’s defense was at risk to be infuriating. Eagles fans for a second straight season.
And then Monday night came around, and it seems like everything is fine after all.
There are still some things I want Gannon to clean up – more intentional pressure would be nice, and the soft cover made a quick comeback early in the third quarter which was disappointing – but he actually managed to dial blitzes well-timed numerous times against the Vikings, including a fantastic call on Minnesota’s first practice of the game to bring TJ Edwards on a blitz down the middle that forced a quick Kirk Cousins pitch. He put the pressure on after an awkward turnover in the fourth quarter put the Vikings in the red zone, which led to Cousins’ third INT of the night.
It looked like a competent and thoughtful performance from the defensive coordinator. It was nice.
And just as important, the talent on defense started to come to the surface.
Haason Reddick is still tough in pass coverage — another place Gannon needs to clean him up — but it looked like the offseason addition generated a lot more pressure than in Week 1. Darius Slay remains one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, while Avonte Maddox once again looks like one of the best slot corners in the league. Kyzir White flashed several times in the first few weeks.
There were a ton of new plays coming this season compared to what Gannon and the Eagles were working with on defense, so it’s understandable that the first outing of the year wasn’t terribly clean. (Also, the Lions scored 36 goals in Week 2, so maybe they…are just good at scoring?)
Overall, I liked what I saw in Round 2 a lot more than what I saw in Week 1, and I think between Gannon planning things a little better and the top Eagles defenders showing their abilities, things should go perfectly well this year.
3. Nick Sirianni needs to keep his foot on the accelerator
I hate, hate, hate Nick Sirianni kicking a field goal instead of going 4th-and-6 at the Vikings 22-yard line. It wasn’t just that the blocked field temporarily breathed new life into Minnesota – don’t gamble the result, gamble the decision – but the fact that the Eagles had rushed 51 plays and racked up 416 yards of offense by that time- the. That’s an absurd 8.15 yards per play. The offense has been buzzing all night and you’re trying to put aside a good team that’s quickly losing faith. Step on the gas. Get the first down, score a touchdown, and end the thing right there.
There was absolutely no reason for Sirianni to doubt his offense’s ability to get six yards. It’s not as if the decision was made at the end of a three-game series set up by a fortuitous turnover: the Eagles had rushed for 59 yards in 10 plays in over six and a half minutes.
I’ve loved pretty much everything Sirianni has done so far this year. He was aggressive in Week 1 and that likely saved the Eagles from getting caught from behind by a fiery Lions side. He’s clearly honed the offense to perfectly match Jalen Hurts’ skill set, and Hurts is benefiting from that effort.
But he has to stick to his guns when it comes to putting teams out. The Lions snuck into the thing in Week 1. If the Vikings score after that blocked basket, things could go awry in a hurry. Don’t give them that opportunity. Keep pushing, because you have the weapons to do so.