The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Detroit Lions 38-35 to pick up a season opening road win. There were many positives and negatives coming out of the game. Here are five takeaways following Week One.
1. A.J. Brown Looks Like The Missing Piece On Offense
In Sunday’s game, A.J. Brown looked everything like fans were hoping he would be. Brown made difficult catches, helped the offense convert on third down, and extended plays. He gives Jalen Hurts a true number one target in which he took full advantage of.
Brown finished the game with 10 catches for 155 yards. This was the most receiving yards for any Eagles player in their debut for the team. The only downside was that the number two and number three receivers did nothing for the offense. Devonta Smith and Quez Watkins did not record any catches in the game. Overall, A.J. Brown was the difference maker on Sunday.
2. The Defensive Game Plan Almost Cost The Eagles
The offense put a lot of points on the board, but the defense kept the Lions in it. Detroit fault back from a 21-7 and a 31-14 deficit to keep the game within reach until the final minute.
The defense did record a score with a James Bradberry interception return but allowed 35 points. This is inexcusable to a Lions offense that only scored more than 35 points once last season. The defense recorded just one sack on Jared Goff and allowed an uncharacteristic 181 rushing yards. After a slow first half, Jared Goff was able to pick apart the Eagles secondary to make the game close. The Eagles also allowed the Lions to convert 9/14 third-down plays (64%).
The Eagles will need to make adjustments, or it could be a long season for the defense. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson present a huge challenge in the next matchup.
3. The Running Game Is Still The Strength Of The Offense
The Eagles are expected to put the ball in Jalen Hurts’ hands more this season, but the running game shows they don’t have to. Philadelphia picked up right where they left off a year ago with a dominate rushing attack. The Eagles totaled 216 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns.
Miles Sanders led Eagles running backs with 96 yards followed by Jalen Hurts with 90 yards, Kenneth Gainwell had 20 rushing yards while Boston Scott had 10. Each running back and Jalen Hurts had one touchdown on the ground. The offensive line is elite, so the Eagles should continue to take advantage of this with their trio of backs and dual threat quarterback.
4. Nick Sirianni Remains An Aggressive Play Caller
The Philadelphia Eagles went for it on fourth-down three separate times in the game going two of three. They were unsuccessful their first attempt which came on a fourth and five on the Lions 40 in the first quarter. It would have been a long field goal attempt or a punt that would have likely been a touchback. Hurts was not able to get the ball to Brown, but the defense forced a three and out on Detroit’s next drive.
The Eagles were successful on their fourth and goal attempt which resulted in a Jalen Hurts rushing touchdown to tie the game at seven. Late in the game, the Eagles went for it on fourth and one. A punt here would have given the Lions a chance to drive down the field to tie the game. Sirianni was aggressive and put his faith into Jalen Hurts to rush for the first down and close the game out.
5. The NFC East Outlook Has Changed
It was expected that the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys would compete for the NFC East title. After Week One, it looks like the Commanders and Giants could be right up there too. New Commanders quarterback, Carson Wentz, had a memorable debut. He threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns as Washington beat Jacksonville.
The New York Giants also won in a tight game against the Titans. Tennessee was the number one seed in the AFC last year, so this was an impressive debut for new Giants’ coach Brian Daboll.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys had a forgettable 19-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quarterback Dak Prescott injured his hand and will be out six to eight weeks. It looks like a difficult path for the Cowboys to repeat as NFC East champions this year.