Coming into Sunday’s win over the Titans, Eagles wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith had only three 100-yard receiving games this season.
That stat was surprising, given the star power of the Eagles’ two receivers.
Brown only had one 100-yard game from Week Two to Week 11. Smith had a 100-yard game in Week Three and not another one until Sunday.
Yet, the Eagles persisted. Philadelphia has the NFL’s best record at 11-1. When you’ve won 11 of 12 games, whatever you’re doing kinda works, right?
Quarterback Jalen Hurts continued his MVP-like play in the 35-10 bully-ball victory over Tennessee.
- “That was the message this whole week, just come out and being physical, knowing they are one of the toughest teams in the league,” said Smith, who is 6-foot and 170 pounds. “Just come out and match that physicality.”
Brown led the receivers with eight catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
“He made some catches today, that I’m not sure I’ve seen that many good catches by one guy in a game,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about Brown.
Smith caught five passes for 102 yards and the first touchdown of the game, a 34-yarder on the opening drive.
- “That’s the type of players that they are,” Hurts said about his wide receivers.
- “The big thing here, and the bigger picture here, is when your opportunity comes for us to be successful as a team, every man has to be able to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.
- “And we’ve been fortunate to have guys like A.J. and Smitty take advantage of their opportunities when they come.
- “Everybody has a role to play and you just have to dominate your box and master your role and I credit coach Sirianni for driving that message this week. Just do your job, be prepared and good things will happen.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO SMITH?
In the season’s first game, Brown had 10 catches for 155 yards. Smith, who was coming off an outstanding rookie season, didn’t have a catch. There were awkward questions afterward — Was Smith overlooked? Or phased out? Was the new guy, Brown, going to get all the balls?
In the next game, Smith had seven catches, followed by an eight-catch, 169-yard performance against Washington.
- “I think DeVonta’s been going the whole year,” Sirianni said. “He’s been very steady. He’s a phenomenal route-runner.
- “He’s had some really big games. Anytime you get two guys that have 100 yards, that’s pretty sweet. That makes you feel good as a coach. That makes them feel good as players.”
Smith hasn’t been overlooked. He has 61 catches on the season, tied for the team lead with … A.J. Brown.
- “He’s elite,” Hurts said about Smith. “We all grow from experiences.
- “I think experience is the biggest teacher and DeVonta is one that, he’s grown from everything. He’s grown from stuff from college, he’s grown from the experiences of being a rookie last year, practice, all these things.
- “I think his game definitely has been taken to another level.”
BROWN IS ELITE
Brown’s game already is on another level, well demonstrated by his two touchdown catches against the Titans — part of his eight-catch, 119-yard performance.
- “Anybody in the receiving room feels like they can be the number one receiver if everybody goes out and does their jobs,” Smith said. “And when the plays come to you, make the most of your opportunity.
- “The pass game was working, so we just stuck with it.
- “We know who we are. We know the type of team we have. We know the things that we need to clean up, the things that we’re doing really well. We’re just going to keep coming in and keep stacking every day.”
The Eagles running game was all but dormant against the Titans, gaining 67 yards on 24 carries. Meanwhile, Hurts was 29-of-39 for 380 yards.
- “I think it’s just us trying going out there and doing our jobs, individually, as a group,” Hurts said. “Nothing good ever gets done if every man doesn’t do their job and dominate their box and that’s what we strive to do.”
Last week against Green Bay, the Eagles rushed for 363 yards.
“I think it just says we’ll do whatever we need to do to win the game,” Sirianni said. “If the pass game gets hot … we keep going with that. If the run game gets hot, we’ll ride that.”
HURTS THE CATALYST
Coming into the Tennessee game, the Eagles had the third-best running attack and the 17th-best passing attack.
They sure didn’t look like the 17th-best anything against the Titans, not the way Hurts was slinging the ball around.
- “Teams can’t just single us out just to be a one-dimension team,” Smith said. “We can do either/or. So, whatever’s working that day, that’s what we’re going to do.”
All of this offensive success doesn’t happen without Hurts. The Eagles were the fourth-best offense last week and likely to move up in the rankings.
- “He’s just going through his reads,” Smith said about Hurts. “It’s not just signaling out somebody … he’s doing a tremendous job of reading the coverage.
- “He just comes in every day, still working, no matter what he’s going through in his life … He makes everybody better.”