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Before the first Eagles game of the 2021 season began, almost no one had strong opinions about whether or not the team would be good. It's a short sample size, but after beating the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 32-6, no one can deny that this Philly team lacks significant juice. A lot of Eagles fans, rightfully so, questioned whether they should be excited about this season. After seeing so many of the team's high-profile players perform well, the fans and I have plenty to be excited for.
Speaking of things that stood out from this game, let's get to some players and coaches that particularly stood out to me:
Hurts, whether it's fair or not, only really has one season in Philly to prove that he can be "the guy" of the future. Again, it's only been one game but Hurts going 27/35 for 264 yards and 7 rushing attempts for 62 yards is just about the best start anyone could've hoped for. Hurts regularly looked in command of the offense and was consistently putting his teammates in positions in which they could succeed. Jalen also extended many plays via his pocket awareness, dynamic running ability, and his sense of knowing when to take a risk and when not to.
Were there some issues with the way Hurts played today? Of course. His accuracy was shaky at times and you could tell he was hesitant to throw the ball deep. But, those are things that with enough hard work, any NFL 23-year-old QB could fix. I have faith that Hurts can overcome his issues as the season progresses.
FINALLY, the Eagles have a number one Wide Receiver. If you watched Smith play during his first career NFL game, your optimism that the Eagles fixed their perpetual wideout problem increased dramatically. For context, the last Eagles receiver to haul in 6 receptions for 71 yards and a TD was... DeSean Jackson. At one point in the game, Hurts went to Smith for 3 plays in a row and Devonta moved the chains on each one. The future looks bright for last year's Heisman winner.
The Defensive Line:
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Philly's Defensive Line was good, seeing as the Eagles have more cap space tied up in the front four than any other team in the league. But, the sheer amount that they dominated the Falcons offensive front was shocking. The D-Line sacked Matt Ryan 3 times and had several tackles for loss. If they can stay healthy, the Eagle's front four can be one of the best in the league yet again.
Nick Sirianni & Johnathan Gannon:
For a first-time head coach in Sirriani and first-time defensive coordinator in Gannon, Sunday's victory couldn't have gone much better. The former Indianapolis assistants showed their medal by making in-game adjustments to counter Atlanta's offensive and defensive game plans. For example, Atlanta's first two offensive possessions went for 70+ yards each. After some adjustments from Gannon, not a single drive went for more than 30 yards. On offense, Sirriani recognized that Atlanta's defense was starting to cover his receivers well. In response, he leaned heavily on the run game and was able to gash them for the entire second half. This coaching staff showed their competency by ensuring their players were ready and that they themselves were ready. I'm looking forward to watching what else these two have in store for the rest of the season.
The NFC East:
Up next, the Eagles play the San Francisco 49ers in Philly. I think the Eagles should this game too, especially since they'll be playing at the Linc. But, I don't think it'll be as convincing as a win as this week over Atlanta was. In any case, next week's game should be fun. Stay tuned for additional Eagles content as the season Progresses!