Why did Brown have such a quiet game in Arizona?


It was a weird game for A.J. Brown.

The Eagles’ superstar receiver didn’t start the game (the Eagles came out in 13 personnel), but on his very first snap on the fifth play of the opening drive, caught a 15-yard pass from Jalen Hurts. Then he caught an 11-yarder on the next play. Then he caught a 6-yarder a few plays later.

On the opening drive in Arizona, Brown caught 3 passes for 32 yards and it looked like he was going to dominate. He didn’t catch another ball the rest of the afternoon in the Eagles’ 20-17 win.

Hey, Nick Sirianni … what gives?

“There are going to be times where — obviously we still have plays called for A.J., right?” Sirianni said. “ It wasn't like, all right, he got us three and this is the week Dallas (Goedert) gets a lot and this is the week that DeVonta (Smith) gets a lot.

“We have things called for him, and a ball might get batted, which happened yesterday. Or there might be a pressure off the edge and Jalen is about to step into the throw and make the throw to him and it doesn't happen.

“Somebody might come free on a play that they had too many guys — we didn't have enough guys in protection, and he has to scramble and make a play. So, there are definitely plays being called for him, and it's the same thing with DeVonta the first game.”

You might remember that in the season opener in Detroit — a game when Brown exploded — Smith was targeted four times and didn’t have a catch.

But in a game on Sunday where the Eagles seemed happy throwing a bunch of screens and getting the all out of Hurts’ hand quickly to the flats, they probably could have made a more concerted effort to get the ball into the hands of their 225-pound YAC machine receiver. Instead, they kept feeding 170-pound Smith, who had 10 catches.

Just take a look at Hurts’ spray chart from this game:

On top of that, Brown played just 54 of 73 offensive snaps on Sunday. That 74% is his lowest percentage in his short Eagles career. Typically, Smith is the receiver who stays on the field in tight-end-heavy packages.

There’s something to be said about the flow of the game too. And it’s important to point out that the Eagles had just three possessions in the second half and one of those was that crazy 7:58 drive that was mostly run plays. So opportunities for Brown to get involved were somewhat limited.

But Brown is the Eagles’ $100 million receiver. He might very well be their best player on that side of the football.

Gotta find ways to get him the ball.

“That's the way the game goes sometimes,” Sirianni said. “You always want your receivers and your tight ends and your playmakers to want to get the ball in their hands because that's one of the reasons why they're big-time playmakers, is because they crave the ball, they need the ball, they want the ball. So that's nothing -- we know he wants that football, and we have to do whatever we can to get it to him, but sometimes the flow of the game doesn't allow you to do that. That's kind of what happened yesterday. …

“But make no mistake about it, our pass game runs through those three guys, and that's what you're seeing week in and week out. I think A.J. is in the top five in receiving yards, and he'll continue to be on that because we'll continue to try to feature him in the pass game.”

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