The Eagles entered this week without a loss following their win over the Lions in Week One.
They certainly came out swinging with perhaps the most impressive drive we’ve seen by Hurts since he’s joined the Eagles – and to start the game no less. The defense fed off of that and got a three and out of their own. It seemed to be all Philly until a bogus offensive PI call against the Birds ended their second drive where they should have converted a series where they 2nd and nearly 20.
One poor drive by the defense in the second quarter kept it within striking distance for the Vikings at the half, but the Eagles were more than able to overcome their recent primetime woes.
Two third-quarter interceptions ensured that Minnesota could not close that gap and a run and short-pass-heavy offense ran out huge chunks of clock that never gave the Vikings a chance to make up that ground.
After a tough match against a surprisingly good Detroit Lions team, the Eagles get a dominant win against a team that is widely considered an easy pick for the playoffs and a top-10 or even top-5 team.
Offensive MVP: Jalen Hurts
The first half of this game was perhaps the best performance of his Eagles career. 17/20 for 251 yards and a touchdown plus 50 yards on the ground with two impressive touchdown runs made this the most balanced he’s been in Philly, too. Not only that, but the ball was spread around with all of the Eagles’ top weapons getting involved (four receivers, Goedert, and all three running backs). It’s hard to follow-up a half like that and really the Eagles didn’t need him to as they switched to a clock-killing offense at the half and kept the ball on the ground with regularity. Perhaps the best sign in this game was how sharp Hurts was out of the gate. For the past two seasons, the most glaring issue with Hurts has seemed to be that he started so incredibly slow and took until the second half to really warm up and there were absolutely no signs of that Monday night. He did have an interception and you could argue that it’s on Hurts, but I’d say that’s more on Gainwell for what should have been an easy reception by him.
Defensive MVP: Darius Slay
Slay was an early pick for this spot with his coverage on Justin Jefferson to keep one of the league’s best at bay much of the game. Some playing far off of Jefferson had me second-guessing that but at that point Big Play shut me back up with an interception to prevent the Vikings from scoring and taking any of the momentum. Then he did it again in the fourth quarter to keep the Vikings scoreless in the second half. There’s plenty of top receivers that the Birds will face going forward, but not who are in the league of Jefferson.
- Hurts still has some things to work on like making some better decisions on RPOs and perhaps hitting a few more open receivers, but really that’s just good news at this point. If Hurts can improve from his performance today, he’ll be a lock in the MVP conversation.
- The Eagles changing to a time-killing offense at the half is a questionable decision. Not only is it bad for Hurts to take his foot off the gas and potentially lose momentum going into next week, but the playing not to lose mentality resulted in the Eagles being scoreless in the second half. That would seem like a poor job of coaching. I’d rather see the team put Minshew in to protect Hurts from the potential of injury than limit Hurts to short passes and runs that risk his health and do little in the way of building more confidence for anyone on the team.
- Jonathan Gannon rightfully took a lot of flack for the way his corners played off of receivers and the lack of pass rush, but he was able to resolve that today at times. It’d be great if those issues could be resolved on a more permanent basis, but it’s at least a solid start.
- Speaking of Gannon, perhaps he could help someone remember how to tackle. It’s not like the Eagles added all these guys and then they suddenly lost all ability to tackle, there’s clearly a problem that he needs to figure out.
- That blocked punt was bad. I could see that that was going to be blocked as the ball was snapped, and that’s really bad for a play that really shouldn’t happen much at all.
- Last week it was a four-headed rushing attack with all runners scoring a touchdown. This week, it’s was more like a four-headed receiving attack with Smith and Goedert each going for 80 yards and Brown and Watkins just missing 70 at 69 yards a piece. That’s some incredible balance and just what many wanted to see after last weekend’s “AJ Brown game”.
- One defender that has been particularly disappointing so far has been Haason Reddick. Sure, the DC is making the questionable decision to drop him into coverage some times, but he has plenty of pass-rushing snaps and has rarely gotten pressure with guys like Josh Sweat and Fletcher Cox seemingly having more pressure on the QB. Hopefully that’s just a matter of time, but Philadelphia will need to see more of him getting home at some point.
- This was certainly a bounce-back game for Avonte Maddox, who looked terrible last week but was incredibly reliable this week and even had a pick of his own.
- TJ Edwards continues to impress with his coverage abilities despite his being a run-first undrafted player. It would not be a surprise to see the Eagles offer him another extension during this season – perhaps for more than one additional season.
- Kenneth Gainwell, at this point, would seem like the odd many out in the running back room. Despite the lofty expectations of some fans, Gainwell has been the least efficient of the active options and his tipping up the interception really cemented that. It will be interesting to see what happens with him when Trey Sermon gets up to speed with the offense.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles – September 19, 2022