Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown has a contract worth $100 million over four years.
Pay the man.
His deal is the steal of the century.
Based on the first half alone of the Eagles’ tense, 38-35 victory over Detroit on Sunday, Brown is worth every bit of that contract.
Brown caught six passes for 128 yards *in the first half* against the Lions. He finished with 10 catches for 155 yards, an Eagles record for a receiver in his debut.
- “We knew we had weapons on offense. Today was my day,” Brown said. “Next week, it could be DeVonta’s [Smith] day or Dallas’ [Goedert] day.
- “We have a lot of skill players on offense. Just trying to get everyone the ball is probably just really hard on Shane [Steichen, offensive coordinator] because he’s trying to get everyone touches.
- “I think we did really well. It’s always stuff we need to clean up and finish drives …
- “We left too many points out there. It’s hard to win in this league. I’ll take this dub [win] to be honest because it’s so tough. They [Lions] are professional, too. “
Brown was the guy who provided aid and comfort when quarterback Jalen Hurts needed a friendly face. Hurts, who was under a fierce Lions pass rush most of the day, needed a receiver he could go to, one he could count on.
When he looked toward Brown, he usually found him, “ALWAYS OPEN” as a sign hanging in Brown’s locker says.
“We had a game plan but sometimes the ball just keeps finding you,” Brown said. “I got hot early.”
Hurts was 18-of-32 on the day for 243 yards. His numbers on non-Brown completions were not impressive: 8-for-22 for 88 yards.
Smith had four targets and zero catches. Goedert had three catches on four targets for 60 yards.
IMPORTANT RUSHING YARDS
Hurts also gained 90 crucial yards on the ground. That’s part of the package the Eagles get with Hurts. He keeps drives alive with his legs.
Many fans want him to be a prototypical pocket passer — note, he’s not Philip Rivers or Matt Ryan — but when he takes off and gets that drive-saving first down, everybody is in his corner.
And the threat of a running quarterback tends to take some heat off a pass rush.
“He had some big third-down runs scrambling,” Brown said about Hurts. “When I saw him take off, look where he needed to get, I’m pretty sure he was going to get it.”
The Lions were playing before a juiced-up crowd ready to help their team overcome last year’s 3-13-1 record. The Eagles’ first drive looked haphazard before they settled in.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Brown said. “We barely could hear [Hurts].
“But how he managed the game, I think he did really well. I’m sure he’s going to say it wasn’t good enough. But that’s the mentality he has, and I’m grateful he has that mentality, because [for] all of us, it wasn’t good enough.”
Brown and Hurts — longtime friends — were quite the combination. Brown made several tough catches and Hurts hit him with a field-stretching 54-yard pass.
Hurts, for once, stood unimpeded in the pocket and tossed a perfect pass to Brown, who hauled it in down the right sideline, dragged the defender another 15 yards and nearly got into the end zone.
“That was a dime. Fell out of the sky,” Brown said.
That catch led to a Jake Elliott field goal that gave the Eagles a 24-14 lead at the half.
TOUGH TO BRING DOWN
Brown is a handful once he makes a catch. He racks up yards after a catch, always charging forward and leaving defenders in his wake.
Four of Brown’s 10 catches were over the middle — in the dirty places — where he found seams, beat the defender and Hurts delivered. Four catches were sideline routes, and two were quick, underneath passes.
Brown is that big-time receiver the Eagles roster has been lacking over the years. Brown reminds us, in some ways, of Terrell Owens, a gifted, strong receiver with a me-first personality.
We’re not comparing Brown to the Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Brown comes across as a team-first guy.
“Watch a lot of film. As soon as I get on this plane I’m gonna watch this film and try to dissect myself, what I can do better,” Brown said.
“Clean it up and I’m going to flush this game behind me and just go to work.”
If Brown is doing pushups, he’s doing them on his time, in his space, not as part of an attention-seeking spectacle in the driveway of his home in Moorestown — as Owens once did.
The season is only one game in, we know, but you get the feeling that Brown is similar to Owens on the field, without the baggage off of it.