Remember Week One, when Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith had zero catches against the Lions?
There was pearl-clutching, hand wringing, questioning whether the Earth was going to spin off its axis.
The overreaction was palpable, fear creeping into many social media feeds.
Do you know who didn’t overreact? Smith, quarterback Jalen Hurts, head coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.
That’s the guy catching passes, the guy throwing them and the coaches in charge of the game plan. They all said to relax, it’s a long season and everything will be fine.
Everything is fine — for Smith and the impressive Eagles roster, who are 3-0 after Sunday’s 24-8 victory over the Commanders. The Eagles are one of three undefeated teams, along with the Dolphins and Giants, who play the Cowboys on Monday night.
- “Shows you who DeVonta Smith is,” Sirianni said. “Didn’t have a catch in the first game, and all he did was come back to work, figure out how to get it done the next game.
- “Had a huge game last game [against Minnesota] and had an even bigger game this game.”
“Like I always say, you got to make the most of your opportunities,” Smith said about his Week One output compared with Sunday.
“You might have a game like that where you don’t get the ball, you don’t get your opportunities, but when it comes you got to make the most of them.”
Smith set career-highs with eight receptions and 169 yards against Washington. Two of his catches were longer than 40 yards.
The 2021 10th overall pick from Alabama also scored a touchdown on a clutch, fourth-down play from the 2-yard line. Smith climbed the ladder, Hurts put the ball up high, and the Eagles had a 24-0 halftime lead.
The play? Improvisation by the offense.
- “The play that was called [by Hurts], we necessarily didn’t have in the game plan,” Smith said. “You just got to be ready.
- “You never know what’s going to come up. Everybody was on the same page and I feel we executed it well.
- “That comes down to how the coaches trusting us to go out there and execute whatever they call.”
“Fourth down in the red zone [after] they get a stop on us,” Sirianni said. “We got to get a win verse tight man-to-man and DeVonta goes up and makes a big-time play.”
GREAT PLAYS BY SMITH
Four of Smith’s eight catches were absolutely highlight plays. Not highlight plays for this week — for the season. They were that outstanding.
The first was down the right sideline where he twisted his body, grabbed the ball over his shoulder and managed to stay in-bounds (probably). The play went for 45 yards.
The second was a routine crossing pattern that he turned into a 31-yard gain, 28 yards of which came after the catch. He flew down the sideline with stunning speed, leaving defenders behind.
The third might have been the most amazing. With 37 seconds left in the first half, Hurts threw into double coverage and Smith — all 6-foot, 170 pounds of him — went up over both defenders and brought down the ball. He landed with a thud directly on his back and was shaken up by the contact. That play covered 44 yards and led to his touchdown four plays later.
- “As a receiver, that’s what it comes down to, 50-50 balls, you got to win it,” Smith said.
- “The trust that Jalen has in all the receivers — it’s our ball and nobody’s ball. Just being there with him, just being able to make sure that if we don’t come down with it, nobody comes down with it.”
The fourth great catch was the touchdown, when he leaped over Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller in the end zone.
“That’s who he is,” Hurts said about Smith. “He’s a great player, all-around player.
“Slim Reaper, Slim Reaper. By the eyes, he might be a little sly but he plays like a big boy. He’s a grown man.”
Smith was asked about setting records and compiling impressive stats.
- “First, my training, preparation, the way I prepare [is how his success happens],” Smith said. “That’s what it comes down to.
- “Just not me, but the team. The way we prepare, the way we go out there and attack every practice I feel that’s got us where we are now.”
In Week One, when Smith was shut out, A.J. Brown was the receiving hero with 10 catches for 155 yards in his Eagles debut.
In Week Two, Smith had seven catches for 80 yards, Brown had five catches for 69 yards and tight end Dallas Goedert had five catches for 82 yards.
Against the Commanders, Smith wasn’t a one-man band. Brown had five catches for 85 yards and Goedert had three catches for 26 yards.
Sirianni has a talented receiving corps, with plenty of options at his disposal. And a quarterback making smart throws. The Eagles are 3-0, right where they deserve to be. Catch them if you can.