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A Shaky Week One Win: The Philadelphia Eagles Beat The Detroit Lions

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Photo Credits: Mitchell Leff - Getty Images

"And that'll do it! The Eagles survive their week one showdown with the Detroit Lions!". While it is true that the Philadelphia Eagles managed to beat the Detroit Lions with a final score of 38 to 35, the win was by no means convincing. The quote above is from the color commentator of today's game and his usage of the word "survive" to describe the Eagles game is an apt description. With a much-improved defense, on paper, the Eagles still gave up 35 points to an already injured Lions team. Below are three observations I had from the game.

Jonathan Gannon Is Going To Drive Me Insane This Season:

The vast majority of the Eagle's offseason was spent trying to improve the team's defense, which underperformed relative to expectations last year. With draft acquisitions in Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, and free agent/trade acquisitions James Bradberry, Kyzir White, and Chauncey Gardner Johnson, this team is supposed to be much improved. Why then, did defensive coordinator Jonathon Gannon’s unit give up 35 points to the Lions? The most excruciating part of the defensive performance was that the Lions were 8 of 13 on third downs. Which is entirely predictable! Why is it predictable that they would convert a large portion of their third downs? Gannon’s scheme.

Jonathan Gannon comes from the Matt Eberflus coaching tree, which means he favors playing a lot of two high (safeties) to prevent any big plays. This involves playing a lot of soft zones on critical downs. While this does limit the amount of big plays opposing offenses can have against the Eagles (15 yards or more), it means that offenses have an easy time driving down the field in smaller chunks. So, whenever the Lions or any other team from last season, gets into a third and long situation, instead of pressuring the quarterback, Gannon’s scheme dictates sitting a soft zone which makes it easy for the offense to pick up six or seven easy yards. Gannon’s scheme is the encapsulation of the “bend don’t break” defensive philosophy, but on defense, a stop has to come eventually. And it seems like Gannon, nor any other Eagle knows exactly when that stop is supposed to happen.

The Lions are a below-average offense and they put up 35 points. Any team that has an average or above average offense will be able to have their way with this defense, which is incredibly disappointing given how much talent is on the defensive unit.

The Eagles Remain An Elite Running Offense:

Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles wanted to be a pass-first offense. However, halfway through the season Nick Sirianni and the rest of the coaching staff realized that they were better suited to running the ball to generate the majority of the team's offense. During the 2022 offseason, the Eagles acquired wide receiver, A.J. Brown. This move indicated to many that the Eagles might be trying to switch back to a pass-first offense. Today, we learned what their intentions actually were.

The Eagles had four (!) separate rushers score touchdowns this afternoon. And while A.J. Brown did have a monster day with 10 receptions for 155 yards, the Eagles rushing attack had a great outing. Given the chemistry between Jalen Hurts and A.J. brown, I think the offense will be much more balanced this year than last year. However, the rushing attack will still be highlighted in every game and not pushed to the side like many expected.

Jalen Hurts Was Meh Against The Lions:

Last season was supposed to be a tryout for Hurts to see whether or not he could be “the guy”. He played well enough to grant him another season as the Eagle's starting QB because of how effective a runner he was and the potential for him to develop into an above-average passer. Today against the Lions his passing stat line was 18/32 for 243 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Meanwhile, he rushed the ball 17 times for 90 yards. The rushing stat line is much more impressive than the passing, which isn’t what you really wanted to see from Hurts.

Coming into the season, everyone knew Hurts was an effective runner that had to improve as a passer. On far too many attempts this game, Hurts, at the first sign of pressure from the Lions, dropped his eyes and took off running instead of trying to make a play with his arm. A.J. Brown had a great day, but no other Eagles wide receiver had more than 10 yards. From a guy that needs to prove he can sling the pigskin; you’re hoping to see more. To his credit, Hurts had a good day in regards to playing composed and being a tough SOB. He got hit late several times by Lions players but popped up and shook it off every time. He’s got that Philly dawg in him, after all.

Up Next:

The Eagles play the Minnesota Vikings (who I despise) next Monday night in their first primetime game of the 2022 season. If the Eagles play like they did today, the Vikings will win next week. My prediction for right now is 38 to 31, Vikings.

Go Birds!


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