What We Learned

Posted: September 14th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 3 Comments »

One game doesn’t give us any definitive answers, but it certainly gives us some hints on questions we had going into the season. With a new coaching staff so full of young coaches, there will be a lot to learn. Let’s take a look back at the Eagles 32-6 win over Atlanta to see what we learned about the team and coaching staff.

Football Can Be Fun

The 2020 season was miserable for a variety of reasons. The team went 4-11-1 and that’s never fun. Beyond that, the team was boring. The offense wasn’t very creative or productive. They never scored 30 points in a game. The team trailed by 10 or more points in almost every game. There wasn’t good energy on the field. There was way too much drama off the field.

The 2021 Eagles feel very different. I noted this going into the opener, but you do need to see the team in action to truly know. There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the field. The players had fun. Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni have a celebratory handshake. That might seem a bity cheesy, but Sirianni preaches the importance of connecting so something like that is cool to him.

The Eagles scored 32 points. They were aggressive. They won. And football was legitimately fun.

Everyone Gets To Play

Jonathan Gannon said that all of his guys would play at some press conference this spring. That might have sounded like coach talk, but it proved to be true. I saw #48 shoot up the field for decisive tackle. Cool. Wait…what the heck is Wes Hopkins doing out there? It took me a minute to realize that was rookie LB Patrick Johnson. He was playing in the first half of his first game. Gannon rotated guys all over the defense.

Sirianni played a lot of guys on offense. JJAW and Greg Ward were the fourth and fifth WRs and both guys played 16 snaps. Rookie TE Jack Stoll played 12 snaps. I was surprised to see Boston Scott only play STs.

Jalen Hurts Can Play A Complete Game

Hurts had a terrible habit last year of playing a good half and a bad half. He tended to start hot and then fade, but had at least one game where he started slow and then got hot. He never played well for a whole game. That certainly changed on Sunday.

Hurts played well for the whole game. Sure, he made some mistakes and had a bad series or two, but he never got into a prolonged funk. He threw TDs in the first quarter and the fourth quarter. He never turned the ball over. Hurts led the Eagles to 15 points in the first half and 17 in the second half. He played well for an entire game and that’s a great sign for the upcoming season.

Sirianni Looks Legit

Nick Sirianni was largely unknown when he was hired. He had an awkward opening press conference and the doubters were in full force. Sirianni shut those people up with his team’s performance on Sunday.

Maybe the best compliment you could give Sirianni is to say the Eagles looked well-coached. And they did. There were too many sloppy penalties, but that happens to a lot of teams in openers. The Eagles offensive staff had a terrific gameplan. They attacked the Falcons the right way, throwing short, quick passes most of the time. There were good runs and even designed QB runs.

The defense was more bland, but it worked. The DL took over in the Red Zone and for most of the second half. You got to see DBs facing the QB and attacking the ball instead of chasing receivers down the field. That was fun.

One game is just one game, but boy…it sure feels like the team is in good hands.

The Eagles Know How To Close

There is nothing worse than watching a team build a lead and then falling apart. The Eagles led 17-0 in the opener a year ago and completely melted down. This team got up 15-6 and stayed aggressive. Late in the game, when the DL could really tee off…they did. And they pounded Matt Ryan into the ground. That was fun to see.

The Kids Are Alright

DeVonta Smith ain’t Nelson Agholor. Or JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Or Jalen Reagor. Smith is the real deal. He looked like a veteran on Sunday, not a rookie making his NFL debut. Great pick and good job by the coaching staff of getting him ready to play.

A lot of other rookies played. Kenny Gainwell was the RB in the 2-minute drive late in the half. The coaches trust him, about the best thing you can say about a rookie.

Doug Pederson and his staff loved veterans. The new staff embraces young players as well as vets. “If you can play, we’ll play you.”

It wasn’t just rookies who helped out. Reagor looked good. He caught a screen late and raced in for a TD. Speed isn’t just about going deep. The coaches got a terrific performance out of Hurts. JJAW did well as a blocker. Shaun Bradley got regular reps at LB.

The future looks worlds different when the coaches show the ability to connect with young players and develop them.

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