Eagles Bull-Rush Commanders in first division match up



Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) makes a catch against Washington Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller (29) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Fly Eagles fly! The Philadelphia Eagles have had their fair share of matchups against the Washington Commanders (formerly known as the Washington Football Team) over the years, but today’s matchup on the 25th of September had a little bit of extra meaning to players on both teams today.

The Eagles triumphed over the Commanders, led by former Philly Quarterback Carson Wentz, with a score of 24-8. The Birds started out slow and didn’t put points on the board until Jake Elliot made his only field goal of the day at the very start of the second quarter. Surprisingly, that was the start the Eagles needed as all of their points would be scored in the second quarter. The first player to break into the endzone was tight end Dallas Goedert, hauling in a pass from Jalen Hurts. Next was new wide receiver, A.J. Brown, extending his arms to cross the line. Finally, 2021 Heisman Award Winner Devonta Smith made a jaw dropping catch in the back-left corner of the endzone. Unfortunately for the birds, they would not score at all in the second half.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts finished 22/35 (62.9%) and passed for 340 yards. He also ran for 20 yards from the 9 rushes he came out for. Hurts threw for all three of the touchdowns mentioned before and didn’t give up a single interception or fumble. The quarterback came off of a dominant performance against the Minnesota Vikings, specifically shocking the league with his two rushing touchdowns. His confidence in his own abilities and his players was evident against his old teammate. Hurts’ favorite target today was Devonta Smith, who caught 8 passes for 169 yds. Hurts has always been a defendant of his receiving core, and has always given them the credit they deserve when they ball out. The difference in performance that we’ve seen from Hurts has shown us that he trusts his receivers a lot more, especially when hurling a deep ball downfield. Another change in his playing style is his running. Instead of rushing for a gain of yards, Hurts has started to run outside the pocket to try and extend plays beyond the available rushing yards for himself.

The receiving weapons showcased in the game are Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and Dallas Goedert. The leading receiver was Devonta Smith, catching 8 passes for 169 yards and 1 touchdown. Smith saw no catches during the season opener against Detroit. Since then, he has been targeted more by Hurts in an effort to get him his workload. Smith had many impressive deep catches today, solidifying his spot as the second receiver in the depth chart.

“As a receiver, it definitely comes down to 50/50 balls, and you gotta win it. I mean, the trust that Jalen has in our receivers shows that it’s our ball or nobody’s ball. So being there with him, we’ve been able to make sure that if we don’t come down with it, nobody comes down with it,” Smith reflected at the post game press conference.

Aside from Smith, A.J. Brown has continued to show up against opposing defenses. Brown had 5 receptions for 81 yards, averaging 17 yds./reception. This is the third game of his Philadelphia career after the Eagles acquired him from the Tennessee Titans in a Draft night trade. He is the first receiver listed on the team’s depth chart and has made it evident that Tennessee made a mistake trading him. Although he is the starting WR1, Brown has never shied away from giving his fellow receivers the spotlight. Brown, Smith, and third receiver Quez Watkins are often seen celebrating each other’s touchdowns in the endzone.

“We got three Batmans on the team. We got one swole, one skinny, and one fast! No robins. We ain’t got no backups” said starting defensive back Darius Slay. Slay reference A.J. Brown as “Swole Batman” then Devonta Smith as “Skinny Batman” and lastly, Quez Watkins as “Fast Batman.”

The weakest part of the offense was the rushing attack. Miles Sanders led all running backs with 15 carries for 46 yards. His average was 3.1 yards/carry. Although Sanders has shown big improvement in comparison to the last 2 years, this was not his strongest game this season. In the season opener, he had 96 yards in 13 carries, 1 of them resulting in a touchdown. Washington continually stuffed Philly’s rushing attack from Sanders, Hurts, and secondary running back Kenneth Gainwell, who had 3 carries resulting in 6 yards.

On the other side of the ball, the Eagle’s defense held Carson Wentz 25/43 (58.1%) for 211 yards for passing, 3 rushes resulting in 22 yards, and sacked him a whopping 9 times in the game.

The defensive line dominated the Washington offense. The d-line forced one fumble which was recovered by defensive lineman Javon Hargrave to get the Eagles back on offense. Defensive end Brandon Graham led the team with 2.5 sacks on the former Eagles Quarterback. Other players who met the QB behind the line of scrimmage were T.J Edwards, Haasan Reddick, Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, and Josh Sweat.

“They played their tails off. They were awesome. We thought that they could get after him a little bit and they did. That’s the strength of our team. That’s what you want in division games, you want the strength of your team to go out there and play as they did right there. And man, it was a full team effort there, full defensive line. It wasn’t just one guy, it was all the guys that really got after it and it was fun to watch” stated Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni on his dominant defensive pressure.

The only injury on the team was edge-rusher Haasan Reddick, who limped off the field in the second half.

The Eagles secondary started strong and held out until the end of the fourth quarter. They had allowed no touchdowns in the first 3 quarters of the game. With 1:55 to go, Antonio Gibson pushed the defensive wall and broke through to the endzone for a late game TD rush. The Commanders went for the two-point conversion but were intercepted by safety Marcus Epps. After failing to stop Washington’s previous drive, the Eagles would get the ball back and kneel the ball to seal the game 24-8.

The Eagles (now 3-0) gear up for their battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1), coached by Philly’s previous head coach, Doug Pederson. Pederson is the only Philadelphia head coach to lead the city of Brotherly Love to the promised land in Super Bowl LII. Since then, only five players from that team are still with the Birds, making Pederson not so familiar with his former stomping grounds. The Eagles are 3-3 against the Jaguars, making this upcoming game the tie-breaker for the all-time record.