The Eagles are 2-0 and things are about to get very fun very fast if they keep playing the way they did Monday night in South Philly.
The Birds already had a pretty loaded bandwagon, but this wildly enjoyable romp over Minnesota on national television will turn even more heads. Both sides of the ball made plays. The quarterback looked sharp as ever.
And it's the perfect time to unleash some spicy takes in response to 120 minutes of game tape.
1. Jalen Hurts is an MVP candidate
Josh Allen. Patrick Mahomes. Jalen Hurts.
Through two weeks of the 2022 NFL regular season, those are your leading MVP candidates.
Hurts' spectacular Monday Night Football performance, easily the best game of his young pro career, should catapult him into the way-too-early MVP conversation.
Is it only September? Sure! Hundreds of things will change between now and the end of the year. Who cares! In two games Hurts has made a hefty handful of head-exploding plays, led the offense to 62 total points, and generally looked like a substantially better version of himself compared to last year.
Jalen Hurts may have arrived Monday night, and he did it in style.
He did it with bigger plays and smaller plays alike. There were the obvious highlight reel contributions, like his bomb to Quez Watkins and his bulldozer touchdown run to put the Birds up two scores in the second quarter:
There were also smaller plays, like this excellent third down conversion in the first quarter with a pinpoint completion to A.J. Brown in a tight window:
He did everything on Monday night. He ran with power, he hit the easy short throws in the flats, he worked the middle (!) of the field, he took shots and looked fully confident and comfortable in his second year in Nick Sirianni's offense.
And just in case you think the MVP talk is maybe a tad early, it appears I'm not alone:
After last week's win, I still wanted to see more. Hurts brought more.
333 passing yards. 57 rushing yards. Three total touchdowns. He was absolutely brilliant in this win.
If he can be even 90% of this across an entire season, he's more than The Guy. He can be truly elite.
2. The defense is just fine
There was quite a bit of hand-wringing after the Lions hung 35 points on the Eagles in Week 1. The pass rush wasn't getting anything done, the coverage was soft, and it felt like we were at risk of Jonathan Gannon's defense infuriating Eagles fans for a second straight season.
And then Monday night happened, and it looks like everything is okay after all.
There are still things I want Gannon to clean up - more intentional pressure would be nice, and the soft coverage made a quick return early in the third quarter which was disappointing - but he actually managed to dial up well-timed blitzes on numerous occasions against the Vikings, including a fantastic call on Minnesota's first drive of the game to bring T.J. Edwards on a blitz up the middle that forced a quick throw from Kirk Cousins. He brought the pressure after a flukey turnover in the fourth quarter put the Vikings in the red zone, which led to Cousins' third INT of the evening.
It felt like a competent, thought-out performance from the defensive coordinator. It was nice.
And just as importantly, the defense's talent started to bubble to the surface.
Haason Reddick is still rough in pass coverage - another place Gannon needs clean it up - but it felt like the offseason addition generated much more pressure than in Week 1. Darius Slay remains one of the best ball-hawking cornerbacks in the NFL, while Avonte Maddox again looks like one of the best slot corners in the league. Kyzir White has flashed multiple times in the first few weeks.
There were a ton of new pieces coming into this season compared to what Gannon and the Eagles were working with defense-wise, so it's understandable if the first outing of the year isn't terribly clean. (Also the Lions scored 36 in Week 2, so maybe they... are just good at scoring?)
Overall I liked what I saw in the second go-round much more than what I saw from Week 1, and I think between Gannon scheming things up a little better and the Eagles' best defenders showing their abilities things should be perfectly fine this year.
3. Nick Sirianni needs to keep his foot on the gas
I hate, hate, hate Nick Sirianni kicking a field goal instead of going for it on 4th & 6 at the Vikings' 22-yard line. It's not just that the blocked field goal temporarily breathed new life into Minnesota - don't play the result, play the decision - but the fact that the Eagles had run 51 plays and racked up 416 yards of offense at that point. That's an absurd 8.15 yards per play. The offense was humming all night, and you're trying to put away a good team that is quickly losing faith. Step on the gas. Get the first down, score a touchdown, and end the thing right there.
There was absolutely no reason for Sirianni to doubt his offense's ability to get six yards. It's not like the decision came at the end of a three-play drive set up by a fortuitous turnover: the Eagles had marched 59 yards on 10 plays across more than six and a half minutes.
I've liked basically everything Sirianni has done so far this year. He was aggressive in Week 1 and it likely saved the Eagles from getting caught from behind by a feisty Lions team. He's clearly fine-tuned the offense to perfectly fit Jalen Hurts' skillset, and Hurts is benefitting from that effort.
But he needs to stick to his guns when it comes to putting teams away. The Lions snuck back into the thing in Week 1. If the Vikings score after that blocked field goal, things could go sideways in a hurry. Don't give them that opportunity. Keep it pushing, because you have the weapons to do so.