December 2, 2023

Deep breaths — 5 observations from Eagles-Patriots a day later


Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Philadelphia Eagles place kicker Jake Elliott (4) attempts a kick against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Whew, that was something.

The Eagles must really want CBS to make some money as they did everything they could have possibly done to keep the New England Patriots in that game on Sunday.

They nearly blew a 16-point lead, gave the ball back with around 3:30 minutes left deep in Eagles territory with a five-point lead, but did not score a touchdown after the first quarter.

But, a win is a win. It was an ugly 25-20 win, but it was a win, and the Eagles are 1-0.

Here are five of my observations from Week 1:

Play calling, what are we doing?

This was Brian Johnson’s first game as an NFL play caller and it was an absolutely pathetic debut.

After a long field goal drive to open the game and a touchdown on a short field after a turnover, the Eagles proceeded to record two yards on their next five drives. The offense was boring, lifeless, slow, and most of the time it was hard to even understand what they were doing. Jalen Hurts was uncomfortable and out of sorts, the running was so predictable, and the best offensive line in the NFL was moderate.

Hurts did not complete a pass longer than nine yards in the first half and for the first time in his career as a starter failed to complete a pass over 15 yards.

Where was Dallas Goedert? He was targeted once. He was open.

Where was D’Andre Swift? The Eagles’ big draft day trade did not have any carries until the fourth quarter.

Where was the high-powered passing game? It generated just 154 yards.

Brian Johnson was never able to get the offense into any sort of rhythm and take away seven points on Darius Slay’s pick-six and the offense would have managed just 18 points, went 4-for-13 on third down, received 251 yards, averaged under 4.0 yards per rushing attempt, and gave up three sacks.

Johnson and the offense know there is a lot to fix but still getting the win. But there still is so much work that has to be done.

Another thing, going for it on 4th-and-2 with two minutes left on the Patriots’ 44-yard-line up five was idiotic. Being aggressive is great, but the offense was not functioning satisfactorily all day, the Patriots had the momentum, the Eagles’ defense just allowed a touchdown, Hurts was struggling, it was a long two, and even Arryn Siposs was even having a solid day.

See where I am going here?

Hurts locked onto DeVonta Smith, who was covered by Christian Gonzalez, and the pass never had a chance.

Being aggressive is great, but not there.

Making something out of nothing

Hurts looked off. Flat-out.

It may be because it was his first game with Johnson, but he just did not look like himself. Not what anybody expected from last year’s MVP runner-up and signing a massive five-year, $255 million extension.

He made plays early, and he made some late, but in between he was not good.

At one point, the Eagles got two yards of offense on five possessions. They failed to score a touchdown on their last nine drives. They also recorded eight first downs on their first two drives, then nine on their next 10. And also that costly fumble down the stretch. I also despised that play call. But still Hurts cannot give up the ball there. Very uncharacteristic.

However, Liam Jenkins, a man I respect a lot in the Philadelphia sports media community, of Philadelphia Sports Network put out a very interesting tweet that really makes something out of nothing.

Hurts obviously, was not good. But neither was Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, or Joe Burrow, who just signed a record-breaking deal, with the Cincinnati Bengals. Both lost their games. The Eagles won.

Mahomes and the Chiefs lost to the Detroit Lions on opening night last Thursday, 21-20 at home. Burrow and the Bengals faced a lousy Browns team in Cleveland and got crushed 24-3, with Burrow getting benched in the fourth quarter.

So, when Jalen Hurts isn’t at his very best, the Eagles can still win. That means something.


I was shocked that the Eagles were unable to put literally any pressure on Mac Jones, who had a broken-down offensive line in front of him with three backups and their star guard Mike Onwenu.

For this defense to function, the boys in front need to generate pressure. That is how this team is built. 70 sacks like last season are unnecessary, but Jones threw 47 passes before he was sacked for the first time late in the fourth quarter.

That is unacceptable.

This D-line is the backbone of this team and they must be better.

Does his back hurt?

How about Jake Elliot?

Someone check his back because he carried the Eagles to victory.

He is such a weapon. When the offense is struggling he is an advantage to be able to get points when you have fourth and longs inside the opposing 40-yard line.

The Eagles desperately needed points early in the third quarter, and Elliott easily nailed a 56-yard field goal. He is now fice-for-six in his career from 56 yards or longer and he is the only one in NFL history who has attempted at least five kicks from 56 and out has made a higher percentage.

Elliott added a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter and finished four-for-four on field goals and the Eagles needed all of them.

Elliot deserves more love.


The Eagles are already hurting.

The Birds barely had any injuries last year, but lost Nakobe Dean, James Bradberry, and Fletcher Cox to Subday.

Dean will be out for about a month due to a foot injury. With this, the Eagles are signing former Titans’ first-round pick, LB Rashaan Evans, to its practice squad.

Bradberry is in concussion protocol. He probably will not play Thursday night against Minnesota.

And Cox did not suffer any major injury after getting an MRI Monday morning and he will be ok.

So, Game 1, and already injury issues. The Eagles cannot afford to lose any more guys.

NEXT UP: Eagles have themselves a short week as they will be on Thursday Night Football against the Vikings in the Birds’ home opener. The Vikings lost Week 1 at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They also played an ugly game. It better go better this time around for the boys in green.

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