The Eagles start the season 1-0 after their win over the Lions, and while players are excited about the result, several spoke to reporters following the game and emphasized the need for improved execution.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts admitted that it was nice to see that even though they didn’t play up to their standard, they were still able to find a way to win. A.J. Brown, Darius Slay and Brandon Graham all echoed that sentiment, and talked about various areas they think need focus as they get ready for Week 2.
Here’s some of what the players had to say:
“I think it was a hard-fought victory. I think what I love the most about this team, just coming out here in Week 1, playing against a new opponent and seeing a new face, how resilient we were. We talked about not riding waves of the game, being able to control what we can, and there were times when the execution wasn’t as we like it to be on both sides of the ball, but I think in the end what made the difference was we were resilient. We played together through the good, through the bad and the ugly, and we had each other’s backs. And, it’s always good to get a win.
They had a great football team. It’s clearly not the same football team that we played last year. They were flying to the ball, they played very physical, they played with a next-play mentality. So, I have a lot of respect for them and Coach [Dan] Campbell and Duce [Staley].”
Hurts later talked about how they have a standard they set for themselves, and it’s something that only rises with each practice and game, and they know they didn’t play up to that standard consistently on Sunday.
“But, it’s a great feeling knowing you didn’t meet the standard, but you were still resilient enough and had enough dog in you to find a way to win.”
The quarterback also talked about the environment, and how it was loud — something that both Nick Sirianni and A.J. Brown had mentioned, as well —, but they were able to overcome. He mentioned that Brown had some big, momentum-building plays, but so did Miles Sanders. Hurts credits his teammates being ready to capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves.
Hurts was also asked about some of the questionable hits that he took — and that he’s taken in the preseason —, but he isn’t worried about them. He said it’s all just part of the game, and he just gets up afterward and moves on to the next play. The QB mentioned that there were several broken plays in which he was forced to throw the ball away to avoid a sack, admitting that sometimes that’s the best play to make, but he wants to review the film and learn from some of those situations for next time.
The wide receiver talked about how emotions were running high early in the game, so they were talking amongst themselves about staying calm and poised and focused. Brown said that catching the two passes over the middle early on was helpful for him, and that touching the ball as early as possible gets him going.
Brown set a franchise record for catches (10) and yards (155) by a player in their first game as an Eagle, and the WR acknowledged there have been some greats who have played in Philly, and said it’s a little overwhelming that he gets to add his name to that record book.
He admitted that Sunday the ball found him a lot, but that doesn’t always happen and there will be days that the ball finds DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Brown said that it’s probably tough for OC Shane Steichen to plan when they have so many talented skill players to get the ball to.
The defense didn’t have quite as hard of a time as the offense communicating over crowd noise, but Slay did admit that they still need to communicate better. He talked about how they have some things to clean up, from penalties to big third-down conversions. Slay also said that they need to execute a lot better, especially at the end of the game.
“It’s Week 1, new OC for them, so we didn’t know too much about their offense.”
Slay also said it was great having Chauncey Gardner-Johnson out there, and even though he’s only been around for 10 days, they still have to do better with their communication.
“He did what he was supposed to do. Come out here and execute, play hard. That’s all we’re looking for out of him. He only got here 10 days ago. We just knew he had to have great effort, you know, run to the ball — see the ball, get the ball kind of guy. So, we just tried to make it simple for him.”
The CB was quick to admit he should’ve had that interception that came right to him, pointing out that had he made that catch, they would’ve gotten off the field instead of the Lions driving and ending up with a score. Slay emphasized that’s what he means by execution and they just need to execute better moving forward.
The veteran said that it was great to get back on the field, and even though they have stuff they need to clean up, a win is a win, so he’ll take it. He admitted that they left some plays out on the field, and they should have kept that 17-point lead, but it’s when they start foregoing the detailed fundamentals that mistakes start getting made.
Graham said one area they really need to clean up is against the run, and allowing 150 yards is “unacceptable,” but they know what they need to work on. It being the first game of the season, they saw some things they weren’t expecting, so now they can watch the film and start building off that.
Despite some of their struggles, and when the Lions starting climbing back into the game, Graham said it was nice that no one was on the sideline pointing fingers, but rather it was a group effort to step up and make stops and keep them from taking the lead. While some people might point to the lighter training camp schedule and lack of preseason snaps for some of the issues on Sunday, Graham said they don’t make excuses and it was a priority to get and keep guys healthy heading into the season.