Is a win a win? Should we be happy that the Eagles won, or was a bad performance by the Eagles a sign of things to come? The Eagles beat the Lions 38-35 to open up their season with a victory. The Standings have no column for style points, and this win will count just as much as a 21 pt win would have. But still, it is hard to look at Sunday’s victory and feel great. So what happened and what can we take away from it? Here are 5 numbers that tell the story of the Eagles’ win in Detroit.
Let’s start with the positive. The Jalen Hurts to AJ Brown connection is elite. We knew Brown was a great WR, and the fact he and Hurts have a pre-existing friendship goes a long way to helping the chemistry here. He had 100 yards before halftime and finished the game with 155. That is the most ever by an Eagles WR in their debut, breaking Donte Stallworth’s record. Hurts to Brown is something you should get used to hearing because it is going to be said a lot this year. We heard all training camp that the two were connecting constantly in practice. And this is one thing that translated from practice to the field. Devonta Smith finished with 0 catches, but I can’t be too concerned about that in just one game.
Stop me if you heard this story before. The Eagles’ defense had a hard time getting off the field on third down. It was an issue all last year. They were 23rd in 3rd down conversion rate on defense. And that issue reared its ugly face again in week 1. The Lions converted 9 of 14 times on 3rd down. That is 64.3% of the time. And one of the times they did get a stop, they gave up a TD on the next play. Part of the problem was they couldn’t stop D’Andre Swift and it was giving the Lions easier conversions. But even on 3rd and long they struggled. They even let Goff convert one with his legs.
This can’t become a trend again. This defense was supposed to be better. They added Kyzir White, Jordan Davis, James Bradberry, CJ Gardner Johnson, among other names because they wanted to fix the mess from last year. But so far, it is the same old story. It’s on Jonathan Gannon if they can’t make this work with all this talent.
We are sticking with the defense. D’Andre Swift averaged 9.6 yards per carry. Nearly a first down per touch. Stopping the run was one of the few things this defense did well last year. They have up the 9th fewest rushing yards in the NFL. Part of that may have been just how easy it was to throw against them, but still, they were at the top half of the league in stuffing the run. But today was a disaster for the run defense. They gave up 3 TDs on the ground, and the Lions ran at will all over the field. You would think with the improvements at LB and the addition of Jordan Davis it would make the Eagles better. But game 1 was a bad start for this run defense.
Last year the Eagles generated no pass rush. That carried over today. They had just 1 sack, which was shared by Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. And on top of that, they had only 2 hurries. Jared Goff was comfortable in his pocket all game. Granted this was against a very good offensive line. But still. You brought in guys like Hasson Reddick because you knew you had to generate more of a pass rush. They did not. We may see a lot more scoreboards like today if that doesn’t change.
We started positive, and we will end positive as well. In a game, they won things can’t be all negative. Hurts is so damn good rushing in the RedZone. He scored their first TD today with his legs. And that is something we saw all last year and will continue to see this year. He had 10 last year in 15 games. 7 of those came inside the RedZone. He got his eighth today, which is the 4th most in the league since week 1 of last year. Hurts’ legs make him a true weapon. You have to have someone on him, especially in the Red Zone. And that extra spy is one less player dropping in coverage.
Jalen Hurts had his 14th career rushing touchdown today— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 12, 2022
Only Cam Newton (17) has had more in NFL history in their first 20 starts
Hurts certainly still has work to do as a passer. But his presence should make the Eagles a very good Red Zone Offense. They already were last year. Even with all their issues, they were 8th in Red Zone scoring percentage, scoring a TD 62.9% of the time. Today they scored a TD 80% of the time in the Red Zone. That is one trend you should look forward to continuing.
*Bonus Number* – 2
You can say it was an ugly week for the Eagles, even in a win. And that may be true. But, it was uglier for the other top teams in the NFC. The Packers got crushed by the Vikings. The Rams were run out of their own house by the Bills. The Cardinals didn’t have a chance vs the Chiefs. The 49ers fell apart vs the Bears. And the Cowboys, well they just looked plain bad.
It's been a rough game for the Cowboys' offense. pic.twitter.com/Ryg048I2oG— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 12, 2022
The Eagles and the Bucs were the only 2 NFC Teams who made the playoffs last year and won in week 1. And like the Eagles, the Bucs looked far from perfect in their loss. But even an ugly win is better than any loss. We have a tendency to look at any issues for our local teams from a very narrow perspective. We will focus on our own issues, and not notice other teams have the same issues.
If you are worried about how bad the Eagles’ defense looked, imagine what the ten Rams fans in LA are thinking after not even being competitive. And think about how Packers fans are feeling right now after watching their offense, sans Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Cowboys looked terrible and now will be without Dak Prescott. Things could be so much worse. Their defense looked bad, but they made it out with a win. Good defenses can have had bad games. It’s only one week, and for now, it is no harm no foul. I am not saying ignore the issues. Just keep them in perspective.