Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles overreactions: Hurts' Pro Bowl ceiling has arrived


The Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Steelers just like we thought they would, and the Birds are now 7-0. 

These first two months have been a dream start to the season for Jalen Hurts & Co., who put on a show with a barrage of big-play scores in front of a spicy home crowd. A.J. Brown showed out. Dallas Goedert looked like a stud tight end once again. It was a fun afternoon in South Philly.

Sunday was the kind of offensive performance that makes you say over-eager things about a football team, so let's overreact to yet another win:

1. The Eagles unlocked Jalen Hurts' Pro Bowl potential

Here's a note for any NFL team looking to immediately make your young QB better: 

Get him more talent. 

Do it. Spend resources. Buy in and don't look back. The best way to support a young quarterback and his development is very clearly to surround him with skill, and it's not close.

We saw it in Buffalo when the Bills acquired Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen's development exploded. We've seen it in Los Angeles, where Justin Herbert hit the ground running and looked Pro Bowl-ready from his first start because of Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Mike Williams. We saw Joe Burrow's production explode after the Bengals drafted Ja'Marr Chase.

And now we're watching Jalen Hurts jump from a QB who seemed afraid to use much of the field in 2021 to a QB who loves to attack opposing defenses basically anywhere, at any time, after the Eagles went out and acquired A.J. Brown.

Sure, we need to give a ton of credit to Hurts for his offseason work. He has shown improvement from Week 1, and with an entire offseason in the same system under his belt it makes sense.

But he knows Brown will be in the right spot every time and he can just let it rip from the pocket, which allows him to make a perfect bucket throw like his second TD of the game Sunday:

That's such a quick five-step drop, plant, and go from Hurts. He knows exactly where he's going with the ball and puts it right on the money, leading Brown away from the coverage and into the end zone. An unbelievable throw.

And Hurts did it again in the exact same spot for the third TD of the game, firing into an even tighter window:

Hurts had a couple misfires to start the game, and not every throw is 100% perfect, but the guy has turned into a quarterback who can make every throw and is currently playing at a Pro Bowl level. He doesn't need to do everything with his feet like last year - he had just two rushes for 10 yards on Sunday against the Steelers - and the offense is clicking.

Great job by the player, and great job by the organization.

2. A.J. Brown is a top 6 wide receiver in the NFL

I think Eagles fans knew A.J. Brown was good when the Birds pulled off the Draft night trade for the wideout, but I'm not quite sure they knew how good.

Through seven games this year Brown has shown time and time again that he is the complete package at wide receiver, and Sunday's dominant showing - six catches, 156 yards, three touchdowns - was the latest and most explicit reminder that this is a legitimately elite WR.

How many wideouts league-wide would you take over Brown? Here's my brief list:

  • Tyreek Hill
  • Cooper Kupp
  • Justin Jefferson
  • Stefon Diggs
  • Davante Adams

That's it. Anyone else in the league and I think we're having a debate, and I think I'm winding up on Brown.

If you think WR6 in the NFL is a little high for Brown, I invite you to watch him game in and game out. The way he executes not just the big plays but the small and intermediate ones as well. He runs routes to a tee every single time. He's a master of using his body to his advantage against outmatched defenders. He has athleticism in bushels and puts it on display every week.

Brown's first touchdown of the game was a masterful display of speed, positioning, and body control, rescuing a potentially dangerous ball from Jalen Hurts into double coverage and turning a possible Minkah Fitzpatrick interception into a highlight reel touchdown:

Tracy Wolfson asked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at halftime what his team could do to counteract Brown's first-half dominance. His answer?

"There's really no adjustments, no schematic adjustments. He's making plays."

Good luck, NFL.

3. Yep, Haason Reddick is the real deal

Haason Reddick had a bit of a slow start to the year with his new squad, tallying just four tackles and one tackle for a loss in his first two games as an Eagle.

Since then, he's been an absolute menace.

Reddick has 5.5 sacks, 3 TFL, and 7 QB hits in the Eagles' last five games and even those numbers don't do his full impact justice. 

Let's start with the monster sack Reddick registered on the first drive of Sunday's game, a total bullet of a pass rush up the middle right into Kenny Pickett's face:

That's the kind of dynamic, wildly athletic pass rushing weapon who can totally change your defense. And he's an Eagle.

Then in the fourth quarter, with the Steelers trying to make it a one-score game, Reddick's pressure around the edge absolutely collapsed Kenny Pickett's pocket and eventually led to a strip sack by Javon Hargrave, a game-changing play that essentially sealed things for good:

Reddick is such a fantastic weapon to have, especially with Robert Quinn now in tow and Josh Sweat playing at a high level. The Eagles' best threat along the defensive line during the 2017 Super Bowl run wasn't a single player, but a variety of problems for opposing offensive lines. They could rotate weapons at will and keep everyone fresh to rush the passer with fresh legs. 

Having all these guys playing at such a high level, and especially someone as talented as Reddick piloting that attack, is such a luxury and Howie Roseman nailed it by making that investment this offseason.

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