The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot to be excited about after Week 1. Nick Sirianni had a strong debut, Jalen Hurts led in confidence and the team exuded new-found fluidity. Not only did the Eagles win their first season game (32-6 against the Atlanta Falcons), but they were the only team in the NFC East to do so.
While the Eagles prepare to host the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, here are five takeaways as they pursue the addition of another win.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES WEEK 1 TAKEAWAYS
1. Jalen Hurts will have a breakout season
Jalen Hurts earned a once in a lifetime chance when he proved he could reignite energy into the Eagles when Philadelphia benched Carson Wentz. The second-year quarterback has now put numerous rumors to rest regarding another QB coming in to take his place after his Week 1 performance.
Hurts completed 27 of 35 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball throughout the offense and when Hurts wasn’t unable to find an opening, he made it happen on his own, rushing for 62 yards on seven carries.
Pro Football Focus graded the 22-year-old as the second-best quarterback in Week 1, behind Buccaneer’s Tom Brady. If Hurts is able to maintain control in Week 2 and beyond, he will be at the forefront of Philadelphia’s comeback season for 2021-2022.
2. DeVonta Smith will be the top receiver
Though the Eagles had other rookies to choose from in the 2021 NFL Draft, Philadelphia struck gold when they selected Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
He entered the season as the Eagles’ No. 1 wide receiver. Smith completing his first career catch for an 18-yard touchdown, becoming the first Eagles’ wide receiver to do so since 1990. In Week 1, he totaled six receptions for 71 yards. Fans should get used to seeing the Hurts-Smith duo this season.
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) September 12, 2021
3. The running game this season will be strong
Philadelphia’s running back trio made up of Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell is solid. All three players were able to see the field, rushing the ball 31 times for 173 yards. Kenneth Gainwell also had his first career touchdown.
— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) September 12, 2021
Their speed, leg work, and pass-catching abilities will make It difficult for the opposing defense to keep up.
4. Jordan Mailata will prove he earned his contract extension
One day before kickoff, the Eagles signed Jordan Mailata to a four-year $64 million contract extension. Despite knowing nothing about football, Mailata earned the left tackle position over first-round pick Andre Dillard and pulled out a stellar performance in Week 1. He held strong opposite of Eagles veterans and pulled out insane blocks, allowing for the offense to run the ball.
Sirianni stated, “He had potential coming out and has just done a good job of maximizing it. And he’s still a young player. We still think he’s got his arrow still pointing up.”
5. Eagles defense will be among the best in the league
The Eagles defense needed to warm up a bit, but once they found their footing, there was no stopping them. Despite missing safety Rodney McLeod to a knee injury, Philadelphia held Atlanta to 260 yards, preventing any end zone appearances.
Prior to the 2021 season, The Athletic ranked Philadelphia’s defense No. 13, up from No. 15 last season. With the addition of Steven Nelson, Anthony Harris, and Eric Wilson, the defense is dominating. The Eagles sacked Atlanta’s quarterback Matt Ryan three times and had ten hits. As defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon looks to uphold the intensity, the Eagles should climb in NFL ranks.