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September 12, 2022

What they're saying: Jalen Hurts took a beating in Eagles win

And Dak Prescott's hurt. The Cowboys are in big trouble.

Week 1 is a wrap. The Eagles are 1-0, everyone in the NFC East is, in fact, except the Cowboys. They got smacked by Tampa Bay, Dak Prescott's hurt, the season just started and it's already bad times down in Dallas.

Anyway, the ground game remained the Eagles' greatest strength against Detroit, A.J. Brown looked every bit the star receiver as advertised, and the defense had a pretty sloppy day of tackling. Still, the Birds got by, holding on to beat the Lions, 38-35.

Jimmy Kempski handed out the first 10 awards of the 2022 season and broke down the Eagles' snap count.

Shamus Clancy, meanwhile, dubbed A.J. Brown the winner of the week in Philly sports, took a look at the current NFC East and Super Bowl odds now that the Cowboys are on fire, and pondered if the Eagles should trade Gardner Minshew to Dallas (Spoiler alert: No). 

Now that there have been a couple days to process, what's everyone else saying about the Eagles' win over the Lions?

Let's jump right in...

Baldy breakdowns

Brian Baldinger | @BaldyNFL

Let's go to the film to start. 

League analyst and former Eagles offensive lineman Brian Baldinger on Dallas Goedert's blocking:

On Jalen Hurts' 54-yard bomb to Brown:

On James Bradberry's pick-six:

And finally Hurts' legs saving numerous plays:

Hurts went 18-32 passing for 243 yards against the Lions. The biggest questions surrounding him heading into this season were whether he could progress as a passer. 

Sunday wasn't the greatest barometer for that, but it did speak to his athleticism and quick thinking. 

"What an unbelievable thing to be able to have as a coach," said head coach Nick Sirianni postgame. "'Oh, we called that? Didn't work?' He made it right."

And for what it's worth, Hurts did tie Baltimore's Lamar Jackson for the sixth-highest graded QB performance in Week 1 after Sunday.

Taking a beating 

Dave Zangaro | NBC Sports Philadelphia

While Hurts can run and has no problem doing so, he is going to be at risk any time he takes off. 

There were multiple points on Sunday where an aggressive Lions defense took liberties with Hurts on contact, and it culminated with the late hit from Tracy Walker in the third quarter while Hurts was sliding down. 

He took a beating on Sunday, and that just isn't going to be sustainable at a position that requires longevity and consistency to succeed. 

Wrote NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro:

Hurts ended up rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 38-35 win over the Lions. He also threw for 243 yards — 155 to A.J. Brown — and Sirianni praised him for being in control and making the correct checks.

Even if he took off early a few times on Sunday, it was still Hurts’ ability to scramble that really helped the Eagles’ offense score 31 points on Sunday — Hurts ran for five first downs and a touchdown in the game. When the offense looked disjointed, Hurts’ ability to pick up yards on the ground carried them.

But with that came some punishing hits.

“Hold my breath. I think everybody does,” receiver Zach Pascal said. “You never want to see your quarterback get hit like that. We gotta do a better job of protecting him.” [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

Where were the rookies?

Ben Natan | Bleeding Green Nation

Rookies Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean generated a lot of buzz during training camp and the preseason, but Week 1 came and went and their names rarely popped up. 

As Kempski noted in his snap count breakdown, the defensive line usage against Detroit was confusing. Davis was barely used, and Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat were at times dropping into pass coverage when their strength is in pass rushing. 

More specifically to Davis, here's what Bleeding Green Nation's Ben Natan wrote:

It is hard to grade Jordan Davis’ performance against the Lions, because his usage (or lack thereof) was so head scratching. Davis saw the field on just over 30% of snaps, and there was little rhyme or reason to when or why he saw the field.

The Lions’ offensive line is one of the better units in the league and Dan Campbell was content to run the ball at will. Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave struggled with the run coming their way while Jordan Davis was on the field for the few times when the Eagles defense was able to limit Detroit on the ground.

Davis’ impact is obvious to most when he is on the field, but not so obvious to Jonathan Gannon. While there is a possibility that the Eagles are concerned about conditioning for the rookie, what is more likely is the second year defensive coordinator has no idea what to do with his new batch of talent on defense.

Last year, Jonathan Gannon was frustratingly conservative on defense, but he also took a long time to really adjust to who he should be putting out on the field. Remember how long it took before TJ Edwards was seeing snaps instead of Eric Wilson? Or all the Derek Barnett snaps? [Bleeding Green Nation]

Time to take charge

Mina Kimes | ESPN

Prescott needs surgery and will be out for a while in another devastating blow to a Cowboys team that really doesn't have the depth to afford any more major injuries.

The Commanders, with Carson Wentz under center, beat Doug Pederson's Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants came up with a statement win over the Titans. However, ESPN analyst Mina Kimes believes the NFC East is the Eagles' division to lose now.

"It's the team I expected to win even if Dak was healthy and that's the Philadelphia Eagles. 

"Bit of a letdown yesterday, especially I think after seeing them pull out to that lead but then letting Detroit back into the game. I was a bit disappointed in what I saw from the Eagles' defense. I thought they played a bit too soft, there were a lot of sloppy penalties, missed tackles...I think they'll clean that up. 

"There's just too much talent on every level on that side of the ball, and then seeing what A.J. Brown brings to the table offensively, just that physicality. To me, Jalen Hurts does have to improve a little bit as the season goes along, but this roster is so good and the schedule, by the way, is so easy, the Eagles remain my pick." [ESPN]

The Eagles have the Vikings next on Monday Night Football for their home opener, and looking at how Minnesota thrashed Green Bay on Sunday, that one might not be so easy. 

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