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September 07, 2022

What we learned about the Eagles' Week 1 opponent from 'Hard Knocks'

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As a member of the sports media, seeing "Hard Knocks" on my DVR at the end of August is always a great companion covering, obsessing over and working around an NFL training camp.

The media, and the public, don't get to see what happens before and after practice, in the meeting rooms or when players go spend time with their families on their days off. The Lions had the spotlight this year on the HBO show, and with the Eagles set to head to Detroit to open the NFL season this weekend, Birds fans were able to learn a lot about their soon to be foes from watching the annual reality TV program.

Familiar assistants

It was hard not to miss Duce Staley — the long time Eagles running backs coach who helped the team win the Super Bowl and a former player during the late '90s and early 2000s. He's Detroit's RBs coach and assistant head coach and he was one one of the biggest stars in early episodes. And he is bursting with love.

Hank Fraley made a few appearances in the show. He was a piece of one of the best offensive lines in Eagles history and works as the o-line coach in Detroit. It's fitting that two of the Lions' biggest strengths are its line and running backs. 

Former Eagles special teams coach Dave Fipp is working in that same role with the Lions

There are also a ton of other former players coaching the Lions including defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, WR coach Antwaan Randle El, LB coach Kelvin Sheppard and QB coach Mark Brunell.

Edit of show didn’t let you see the stars

It's common that "Hard Knocks" focuses on the fringe roster guys. The drama and fun that comes from making a connection to an undrafted rookie trying to be a Cinderella is part of what has made the show special for years. However, in a slight departure from previous season, there was almost no sign whatsoever of D'Andre Swift, the Lions' star running back. There was basically no trace of their top tight end T.J. Hockenson, and Jared Goff was barely a supporting player. And that offensive line, it was barely spoken of.

This was probably by design, as Eagles coaches will benefit very little from watching the Lions' second and third team practice. And as such, we can't really make any Xs or Os observations.

They might be better… but they won’t be good

At the end of the season finale Tuesday night, several Lions coaches including head coach Dan Campbell were asked what to expect from the Lions in 2022. They all fell short of giving anyone bulletin board material, using vague coach speak to say they were going to "play with grit," or that they were going to "put the NFL on notice," whatever that means.

The lack of confidence as far as being a competitive team in 2022 was pretty glaring. Detroit finished 3-13-1 and had the second pick in the NFL Draft back in April. Improvement for them would be five or six wins — not a playoff appearance. The Eagles couldn't have an easier opening game.

Pass rush could be potent 

However, one thing is clear — first-round pick Aiden Hutchinson is the real deal. He was a stud during the preseason and seems to have a ton of skill and a motor and will need to be singled out every singe play by the Eagles offense. 

Charles Harris and Michael Brockers are also pretty good pass rushers, and aside from the o-line, it seems like this will be the second best unit on the team. They are pretty thin at wide receiver behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, and the secondary doesn't boast any household names. The Eagles are rightly road favorites in the Week 1 game.


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