Here are the magic words from wide receiver AJ Brown as the Eagles gather at the NovaCare Complex, fully focused on the Detroit Lions and Sunday’s season opener: “I’m excited, I feel fresh and I’m ready to go. to the season, I think we’re in a good place, but we know that doesn’t really mean anything. We just have to keep going every day.”
Brown is one of a large handful of new Eagles expected to make a significant impact this 2022 season. As the week progresses, we get to talk about Detroit and the challenges that team improvement poses for the Eagles in Week 1. For now, we’re going to catch you up on some stories as the Eagles get into their weekly grind and open what promises to be a very interesting season…
1. What is the “personality” of this crime?
Within the walls of the NovaCare Complex, this question comes from the belief that the Eagles are balanced and versatile enough to attack the defense’s weakness. This is not a “media label”, if you understand the difference. The Eagles aren’t interested in having a “personality”: a running team or a passing team. The hope is that the Eagles can create favorable matchups in the passing game and running game each week. There may be a few games where offensive coordinator Shane Steichen calls for a pass-heavy approach. There may be some games where defenses are playing cover and leaving the box light, so the Eagles will emphasize the running game.
Brown’s presence obviously changes things. The combination of Brown and DeVonta Smith gives the Eagles two legitimate No. 1 wide receivers, and that will stress every defensive backfield. Brown is so physical that he naturally creates separation on short routes, and those catch-and-run chances certainly open up the rest of the field for the passing game. That, in turn, opens up the running game. It will be a weekly proposition for the Eagles. Don’t worry about the labels. The goal is efficiency.
2. And that means exactly what for quarterback Jalen Hurts?
It means Hurts has to be consistent with his performance, something he has talked about throughout his career. She’s not going to change anything about the way she conducts her business, she’s just striving for more consistency. To that end, Hurts has worked hard to improve his game and his summer performance was impressive. What does that mean as of Sunday? Hurts enters the regular season confident in his understanding of the offense and the steps he has taken to improve his game. He will be mentally prepared for whatever the Lions throw at him on Sunday. Hurts just has to play his game and follow the structure of the offense. What has been obvious and great to see is the progress Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni and Steichen have made in their second season together on offense from a confidence standpoint. That will go a long way. The Eagles are going to emphasize Hurts in the running game and show off his skills by throwing the ball to a plethora of weapons. Efficiency and consistency are the goals here for Hurts and the offense.
3. How quickly can a newly built defensive backfield come together?
There’s a lot going on in high school, that’s for sure. James Bradberry is set to start his first game as an Eagle against Darius Slay at cornerback. Marcus Epps is scheduled to start full-time for the first time in his career. CJ Gardner-Johnson joined the team last week and is on a crash course to get up to speed. It’s not the smoothest transition to a new look in the secondary, but that’s the way it is and the coaching staff and players are working hard to get on the same page both from a terminology standpoint and from a playmaking standpoint. communications while studying. what the Lions do and prepare their checks and audibles. One would expect Detroit to try to do some things for the first time on Sunday to force the Eagles to read and react. The Lions obviously want to trap the Eagles in poor coverage or some kind of miscommunication. It’s worth seeing, for sure.
4. Where is Brandon Graham in his recovery from last season’s injury?
The story here is perfect, just perfect: Graham is playing in his first game back from suffering a season-ending injury in week 2 of 2021 and he happens to be in his hometown and you know, you just know, there’s going to be an entire section at Ford Field filled with No. 55 Eagles jerseys. Everyone is rooting for Graham in his 13th season to be the same Brandon Graham who is an Eagles all-time great: fast, powerful, relentless. and playing with the contagious joy that he has. Graham has made inspiring progress on his comeback from a torn Achilles tendon and is encouraged. The regular season is a different animal, as we know, so Sunday will be a different test.
5. How do the new Eagles veterans fit into the regular season plans?
In a pretty big way, actually. Brown is a starter at wide receiver. Zach Pascal will work at wide receiver as part of the depth at that position and will also see representatives on special teams. Running back Trey Sermon, added last week from San Francisco, is part of a four-man room and will work to understand the scheme and buy time on offense. Ian Book is the team’s third quarterback. On defense, Haason Reddick is a critical player who is counted on to impact pass rush, establish a physical advantage against the run and effectively drop coverage against the pass. Linebacker Kyzir White will get plenty of reps at WILL linebacker after a great spring and summer. The secondary, see above.
A roster-improving offseason puts the Eagles in position to get immediate impact from all these added veterans. It’s been a concerted and dedicated effort to get all the new players integrated into the culture and schemes here, so here we go. The season is upon us and many of these veterans have important roles from the beginning.