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September 16, 2023

What they're saying: The Eagles can always fall back on the run

The Eagles aren't firing on all cylinders yet, but as long as they have an elite O-line that can establish the run, they'll get by.

The Eagles are 2-0 after putting away the Vikings in a primetime homecoming for the second straight year.

St. Joe's Prep product D'Andre Swift was the star of the night with a 175-yard rushing performance, Jalen Carter continues to be everything as advertised while Jordan Davis looks like he has taken a massive leap in development, the Eagles' O-line is still one of the NFL's best, and primetime Kirk Cousins is still primetime Kirk Cousins

Plus Minnesota couldn't hold on to the ball for dear life. 

Anyway, here's what they're saying about the Birds after Thursday night's win...

When in doubt, run

Dave Zangaro | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Brian Johnson is only two games into his role as the Eagles' offensive coordinator, so some growing pains and learning lessons on the fly were probably to be expected, even with the major precedent that Jalen Hurts and the juggernaut of an offensive unit set with last season. 

Fans will tell you that hasn't made it any less frustrating to watch though. Against the Patriots in Week 1, Hurts and the offense struggled to ever get fully going, and for the bulk of the first half against the Vikings on Thursday night, they were stalling out again – the home crowd was booing them even. 

Johnson needed to make an adjustment, as Dave Zangaro wrote. He put his faith in the offensive line and D'Andre Swift's ability to shift the tempo of the game to the ground. 

It paid off. 

Zangaro continued:

After the Eagles’ offense hit a rough patch in the first half, Johnson began to trust the run game. And it paid off in a major way in the Eagles’ 34-28 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football. The Eagles are far from perfect, but they’re 2-0.

And by the end of Thursday’s game, the Eagles had rushed for 259 yards and D’Andre Swift went off for a career-high 175, running behind the talented offensive line. Those 259 yards are the second most of the Nick Sirianni Era and the Eagles ended up controlling the clock for over 39 minutes.

It was a dominant performance from the O-line and from Swift.

But what was perhaps most encouraging was that Johnson, the first-year OC, was able to adjust and figure out what worked. The Vikings were clearly hell-bent on taking away downfield explosives and were conceding chunks in the run game. 

So Johnson didn’t overthink it. He kept calling runs and the Eagles kept moving the sticks. [NBCSP]

When in doubt, run. 

Making the grade

Pro Football Focus

We talked on Friday about Jordan Mailata and how he scored the highest grade for an offensive tackle since 2010 over at PFF with Thursday night's performance, but a couple of other Eagles made the grade too. 

Josh Sweat, who I maintain is still one of the best-kept secrets in the NFL because of the Eagles' already loaded pass rush, caused the Vikings fits off the edge with the strip-sack of Kirk Cousins, seven additional pressures, and a 92.6 pass-rushing grade.

Get used to seeing No. 94 all over the backfield. He's only just getting started. 

As for DeVonta Smith? Well, he's in a company of his own right now early into this very young season. 

The Eagles might not have it fully together yet, but they definitely have the pieces, and some of them alone are enough to get them by for the time being while they work it out.

The all in-dex

Danny Heifetz and Riley McAtee | The Ringer

The Eagles have had Super Bowl expectations all summer, but they aren't built for this year and this year only, which is an extremely unique – and incredibly tough – position to get your organization in while also being an interesting one to compare with the rest of the league. 

In order to make those comparisons, Danny Heifetz and Riley McAtee over at the Ringer put together what they call the "All In-dex," ranking all 32 teams based on their available draft capital, salary cap spending, and overall talent. 

Basically, it's a list ranking which teams have the most stock put into 2023 with the least regard for what's beyond it, uniquely creating a situation where it's probably a better sign for an organization's health to land in the middle, rather than at the top or the bottom. 

The Eagles came in at No. 13 on the list, with the following being written of them:

The Eagles’ and Chiefs’ nearly back-to-back spots in the All In-dex are a perfect slap in the face to the teams above them, who have sacrificed more to achieve much less. The Eagles are perfectly positioned to win now and later. In addition to their loaded roster, they have a huge collection of draft picks that can underwrite the big cost of doling out a big contract to quarterback Jalen Hurts this summer. Consider that a testament to the job by Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who managed to snag two more first-round defenders (Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith) from Georgia. The Eagles now have five starters from Georgia’s 2021 national champion defense, which was perhaps the best college football defense in a decade. That the Eagles rank 23rd in draft capital spent even though they sent a first-rounder to acquire wide receiver A.J. Brown last year is more Roseman wizardry. [The Ringer]
For the record, the Bengals, Giants, Cowboys, Jets, and Browns were among the teams above the Eagles on the list.

Suffering from success

Dan McQuade | Defector

The Eagles won their first two football games. They dropped 34 points on the Vikings Thursday night, digging too big of a hole for Minnesota to climb out of, even though they tried. Local product D'Andre Swift got the start in his homecoming and proceeded to go off for 175 yards rushing. 

The Eagles are good. They're winning, like they've been expected to. Everything should be fine, right?

Well, wrote Dan McQuade of Thursday night's game:

Oh my goodness, it felt terrible. Holy cow. It started right away, when Jalen Hurts was hit approximately 37 times on the game’s first three drives. Sometimes Hurts took a shot after a run. Sometimes it was just a sack. He underthrew DeVonta Smith on what could’ve been a long touchdown and the Eagles ended up settling for a field goal. He also threw an interception. The defense forced a fumble one play later, but then the Eagles missed a field goal.

The second quarter saw the Eagles give up two third-down conversions to the Vikings, who took the lead on a Kirk Cousins–to–T.J. Hockenson touchdown. The season was over! The Eagles trailed 7-3! What followed was a 16-play drive that featured 13 runs, and the Eagles never trailed again. Justin Jefferson fumbled over the pylon on the next drive, and the Eagles ended up getting a 61-yard field goal from Jake Elliott at the gun. “That first half sucked,” a friend told me. “One of the worst in recent memory.” They led 13-7.


The Eagles are 2-0. They play again on Monday the 25th. I will be complaining about them until then. [Defector]

As will everyone.

Still, even though everything's not fully clicking just yet, the Eagles played two games and found a way to win both times. 

Breathe a bit. 

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