DeVonta Smith

Playing in A.J. Brown's shadow, DeVonta Smith quietly on a tear

The Eagles' WR2 has stepped up during the team's latest hot streak

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This is a story about an Eagles wide receiver who’s on a tear right now. And his name isn’t A.J. Brown.

Once Brown had those six straight games with at least 125 yards, you knew defenses were going to start devoting even more attention to him. And then it was going to be up to someone else to pick up the slack and make a ton of big plays.

That person is DeVonta Smith.

With seven catches for 106 yards Sunday in the Eagles’ overtime win over the Bills, Smith now has 23 catches for 355 yards in his last four games. He averaged 4 ½ catches and 55 yards through seven games and is at 6-for-89 the last four.

That’s 7-for-99 at Washington with a 38-yard TD, 3-for-51 vs. Dallas with a 29-yard TD, 6-for-99 vs. the Chiefs and 7-for-106 vs. the Bills with a 15-yard TD.

Smith doesn’t have that flashy interview personality that draws the TV cameras to Brown, but he’s quietly having another big season with 55 catches for 738 yards and five touchdowns. That puts him on pace for 85 catches, 1,140 yards and eight touchdowns.

Because of Brown, it’s easy to overlook just how good Smith has been.

His 2,850 yards are 3rd-most in team history by a player in his first 45 games, behind only DeSean Jackson (3,124) and Mike Quick (2,919), and his 214 catches are 2nd-most, behind only Jordan Matthews (223).

But these last four games have been some of Smith’s best. He’s caught 23 of 26 targets, averaged 15.4 yards per catch, gotten into the end zone three times and taken his connection with Jalen Hurts to another level.

“Just doing my job,” Smith said post-game Sunday. “Coaches trust me, Jalen trusts me. They’re giving me the opportunity, I’m just going out there and making the most of it.”

Smith was only 2-for-19 before halftime against the Bills, but he had a 33-yard catch and the 15-yard TD on the Eagles’ first 4th-quarter TD drive, an 11-yard catch for a first down on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter and then receptions of 17 and 11 yards on the game-winning overtime TD drive.

“We just wanted an opportunity to go out there and win the game,” Smith said. “Once we knew that we were going to get a chance, we knew what we were capable of.”

The Eagles didn't have any elite wide receivers for long stretches of their existence. Now they have two, and their production has been unprecedented in team history.

Last year was the first time the Eagles had two 1,000-yard receivers the same season, and Smith needs just 262 yards the last six games for this duo to surpass 1,000 yards again. I wouldn't bet against him.

The only other team with a realistic chance to have two repeat 1,000-yard receivers is the Dolphins with Tyreek Hill – already over 1,000 yards for a second straight year – and Jaylen Waddle – who's at 691.

The Seahawks and Buccaneers could conceivably have two repeat 1,000-yard receivers, although D.K. Metcalf (678) and Tyler Lockett (575) aren’t both likely to surpass 1,000 for Seattle, and while Mike Evans is only 150 yards short for Tampa, Chris Godwin only has 606 yards.

The Bengals had Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins over 1,000 last year, but although Chase is at 914, Higgins has been hurt and only has 328 yards in seven games.

To put this the Brown-Smith duo into perspective: 

From 1998 through 2021 – a span of 24 seasons – the Eagles had only six 1,000-yard receivers: T.O. in 2004, Kevin Curtis in 2007, Jackson in 2009, 2010 and 2013 and Jeremy Maclin in 2014.

Now they’re about to have two in back-to-back seasons.

Harold Jackson and Harold Carmichael overlapped two years, but Carmichael wasn’t even a starter yet. Carmichael and Quick overlapped for two years, but that was late in Carmichael’s career and he wasn’t a full-time starter anymore. There was Freddie and Calvin, but they only had one big year together and that was the miserable 1994 season.

Brown and Smith are both young guys in their prime taking turns recording huge games. Only in the win over the Cowboys did neither of them have at least 75 yards.

For so many years, the Eagles didn’t have a No. 1 receiver. Now they have two.

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