3 Things We Learned from The Eagles’ 1st Win

By Chip Bayless (click Howie for more Chip)


1. This defense is better than advertised

Yes, the Falcons have a reputation for blowing games, choking, and flat-out flopping. However, it would be illogical to not be at least slightly impressed that the Eagles defense held an offense containing Calvin Ridley and maybe the most hyped and highly-ranked rookie tight end of all time (according to Pro Football Focus at least).to just 6 points.

Furthermore, both offensive dynamos were held to under 60 yards and scored no touchdowns. Whether it was lock-down coverage or a relentless pass rushing, the Falcons offense seemed stymied by what the Philadelphia defense had to offer.

As evidenced by 3 defensive backs leading the team in tackles on Sunday (Avonte Maddox, Steven Nelson, Darius Slay), the Eagles played more physically than the Falcons and did a phenomenal job of keeping everything in front of them without allowing big plays.

The defensive line obviously showed up as well, except this time it was led by Javon Hargrave instead of Fletcher Cox. Hargrave led the team in sacks with 2, and had 2 TFLs which also led the team. He had 3 QB hits too and was graded as the highest ranked pass rusher during Week 1 per Pro Football Focus.


2. Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith are capable receivers despite youth

With some fans already prematurely calling both Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith potential busts, they proved all the doubters wrong this past weekend as they led the team in receiving yards (#1 and #2), led the team with 6 catches each, each scoring a TD on plays that showcased their trademark abilities.

Reagor scored on a screen pass that displayed his speed and acceleration, while Smith scored on a play that highlighted his route-running and awareness.

In addition to the positive impressions Reagor and Smith left, a larger storyline here is the fact that the Eagles battled through overall inexperience to come up with a win against a team with more veteran players, especially at their more notable positions.

To give you an idea, 22 percent of the Eagles’ roster had never played an NFL game before. The Eagles also had at least 10 players make their NFL debut (the last time the Eagles had 10 players make their NFL debut on opening day was 1986).

Moreover, the Eagles were working with a rookie head coach, a rookie defensive coordinator, and an opening-day QB who had never started on opening-day.


3. Have confidence in Jalen Hurts at QB

Jalen Hurts looked sharp and athletic against Atlanta’s defense, going 27-of-35 for 265 yards with three touchdowns, while adding 62 rushing yards.

Completing 77 percent of your passes sets up almost any team for success, and his talent for creating magical plays outside the pocket is just fun football to watch.

Sep 12, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) tries to pass over Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

His performance against Atlanta’s defense wasn’t just impressive, it was extraordinary. His performance marked the first time an Eagles QB completed 75% of their passes with 3+ TDs and 0 interceptions during an away game since Nick Foles did it on November 3rd of 2013.

Fans and bettors alike have noticed Hurts’ recent ascendance, as his home (green) No. 1 jersey shot up the Fantastic’s best-selling NFL jerseys list on Tuesday.

The odds of him winning MVP have jumped up steeply as well. For example, SportsBettingDime.com has the odds of Hurts winning the NFL MVP Award going from +6500 ($10 to win $650) before Week 1 to +3500 ($10 to win $350) following the Eagles’ win over the Falcons.

That increase leaves Hurts with the 13th-best odds of winning MVP, trailing (in order), Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Jameis Winston, and Baker Mayfield.

Hopefully Hurts and the Eagles can keep it rolling against the 49ers in Week 2.


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