Hey, this is a good start.
The Eagles have gotten themselves out to a 3-0 record to begin the season, and everything has looked good. Most have looked good as well for the Week 4 opposition, the 2-1 Jacksonville Jaguars, led by the head coach of the Super Bowl 52 champion, former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on a rainy day Lincoln Financial Field.
This is a big game for both of these teams. Here are three storylines to take note of ahead of Week 4:
Doug Pederson returns to the stadium Sunday where a literal statue was built of him (I still stand by it was a horrible statue idea).
“I remember back when I was with the Chiefs and Coach Reid, we came back and he got a standing ovation, so hopefully it’s in that realm, but look, it’s Philly, anything is possible with these fans,” Pederson said when asked what kind of reception he’s expecting from Eagles fans. “I’m just looking forward to running out of that tunnel with the Jaguars and then getting ready to play a game at one o’clock there.”
Pederson and the Jags are coming off of a 38-10 beating over the Chargers in Los Angeles last week, a stunning victory that put them on the map. While the Eagles are coming off a 24-8 wallop in Washington last Sunday as Jalen Hurts threw like an MVP, DeVonta Smith caught literally everything, and the defensive line bullied Carson Wentz all game.
“I have a ton of respect for him,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said of Pederson. “I don’t know him personally, I’ve talked to him a couple of times, but I only know him through, obviously the people in this building, and then through Frank [Reich].
“I’ve heard nothing but phenomenal things. I think he’s a great football coach, obviously, he brought this city a world championship and so so much respect for him.”
Sirianni was preaching similar statements earlier that day when he called into the WIP Morning Show, again acknowledging that Pederson “did something in this city that I hope to do. He won a championship.”
When Pederson was asked about Sirianni, he said this, “You’re seeing his leadership ability, he’s an offensive guy. He’s leading that team by example. He’s put himself in a position to be successful, just with the coaches around him — he leans on them, obviously, for help and support, and he’s a smart guy and he understands ball. He understands his team. And that’s the thing about, I think it’s a quality to be successful in this league as a head coach, is understanding your players, and he does that. And he connects with them on a personal level, which is really good.”
Pederson benched Wentz in 2020 for Hurts, as he had confidence in him. Here two seasons later, there are a lot of people surprised by how well Jalen Hurts has been playing this season. Pederson is not among that crowd.
“I’m very grateful for Coach Pederson and the time that I spent with him,” Hurts said Thursday. “Obviously, him taking a chance on me, him making me an Eagle, so that’s something that’s very special to me.
“I’m glad he’s got another opportunity, and I’m glad he’s doing great so far, coaching a really good Jaguars team. So, I have a lot of respect for him.”
Pederson has led the Jaguars to a winning record so far, and they are a win away from matching their win total last season — three. The defense has been locking their opponents down and second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks like he’s beginning to enter the potential he carried out of Clemson. The Jaguars look so much better under Pederson than Urban Meyer last season and are most likely ahead of where many originally expected them to be.
This is the toughest test the Eagles have faced so far.
Player of the month
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was named the player of the month for September, as he much-so deserved.
“He’s [Hurts] going to defy all odds,” Pederson said Wednesday. “That’s just the way his career has been built. He’s overcome adversity everywhere he’s been, at Alabama and Oklahoma.
“Just not surprised. Not surprised that he’s playing this well and he’s playing and really utilizing the guys around him to help him get these wins that they’re piling up.”
Hurts completed 66-of-98 pass attempts (67.3%) for an NFC-leading 916 yards with four touchdown passes for an NFC-best 106.5 rating over the league’s first three weeks, helping the Eagles begin 3-0 for the first time since 1998. Hurts also recorded 167 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in September, becoming the first player ever with at least 900 passing yards and 150 rushing yards in his team’s first three games of a season. He has played at an MVP-type level to begin this season.
“Just the way he’s kind of seeing the field right now,” Sirianni said on Wednesday when asked to explain what has impressed him most about Hurts’ development as a passer. “He’s identifying what’s coming, he’s knowing where to go with the football. His accuracy has been really outstanding. I think his numbers speak for itself, where we are at this point in the season. He’s been on it.
“It’s that development that you always want out of every quarterback, is to see it faster, to get the ball to the guys that the ball is supposed to go to in the coverage they’re playing and that it’s an accurate ball. He’s continued to improve on those things.”
“You know what, I think just his mental makeup, his DNA and how he goes about his business, it’s so impressive,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said on Tuesday explaining what has stood out most about Hurts this season. “It’s second to none, it really is. If he continues on this trend, it’s going to be special. He’s doing a hell of a job right now and we have to keep it going.”
Defense coming off sack-fest
That’s right, NINE.
2.5 from Brandon Graham, 1.5 from Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, and Hasaan Reddick, 1 T.J. Edwards.
Tied for 4th-most in franchise history.
The Eagles d-line swarmed Wentz last week and destroyed him.
It’s been a long time since the Eagles’ d-line simply take over a game like how they did.
Wentz’s 17 first-half pass plays last week resulted in three short completions, seven incompletions, six sacks, one fumble, and minus-16 net yards. Jonathan Gannon’s unit had a defensive shutout until the last few minutes and held Washington to 240 yards — most of them in garbage time. This was the first time since the Super Bowl season the Eagles have held consecutive teams to single digits and only the fourth time since 2009.
The front four generated insane pressure, the back end defended the few times Wentz was able to get the ball out, and Washington had no answer.
The biggest question about this defense after two weeks was its ability to generate pressure, and they answered that one quick. Wentz, working behind a lame offensive line that’s been hit hard by injuries, had no chance, and the Eagles didn’t hold back on their former teammate.
Can they do this on Lawerence, we’ll see.
CB Avonte Maddox (ankle)
RB Bost Scott (rib)
OT Andre Dillard
DE Derek Barnett
TE Jaeden Graham
WR Greg Ward
LB K’Lavon Chaisson (ankle)
CB Shaquill Griffin (hip)
WR Zay Jones (ankle)
OG Cole Van Lanen (hamstring)
LB Jordan Smith
Game time and broadcast
Sunday, October 2, at 1:00pm ET on CBS, 94.1 WIP, Spanish radio: 105.7 FM