This time a season ago, the Philadelphia Eagles also were 2-0 coming off a convincing win over the Minnesota Vikings. Unlike last year though, there’s a little controversy surrounding the Birds as Jalen Hurts and wide receiver AJ Brown were caught having an exchange on the sidelines. The incident was compounded by the receiver not sticking around to talk to the media after the 34-28 win over the Vikes.
Here’s the tiff, which isn’t really anything as evidenced by Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit failing to even acknowledge it in real time.
The reason why this matters is because it’s the NFL, they’re the defending NFC champions, and it involves a quarterback and/or receiver. Coach Nick Sirianni downplayed the incident after the game, saying those conversations stay in-house.
“The conversations we have on the field are going to be private. And the conversations we have in our locker room are going to be private,” he said. Y’all don’t need to know what was going on right there.”
Hurts also did his best to minimize the drama.
“I think everybody wants to make plays and everybody wants to contribute,” the QB said about Brown. “I have no worry about him. He’s a great player, a great teammate, a great friend, and we’ll do anything and everything to win.”
That’s top-notch player speak, and I trust it considering how hesitant new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was to go away from D’Andre Swift and a dominant run game. Hurts didn’t have to drop back much, and when he did throw to Brown, the 25-yard score was overturned via a holding call.
Week 1 against New England wasn’t perfect by last year’s standards, and there’s going to be way too much made of the Brown-Hurts stuff despite the team sitting at 2-0 with wins over Bill Belichick and an explosive Minnesota offense on a short week, without key members of their secondary. I saw the Eagles described as “sluggish” because they didn’t routinely dismiss the Patriots. Think about that. I know it was Mac Jones, but still opening week in Foxborough isn’t guaranteed.
More often than not in the NFL, this is what winning looks like. I’m not saying the Eagles aren’t Super Bowl contenders. They are, but I doubt that they’ll start 8-0, and beat everybody by 30 en route to a 14-3 record, a first-round bye, and a trip to Las Vegas.
Fans don’t have to look too far for a comparison, as the Chiefs went 14-3 last year, too. However, it was a vastly different, more up-and-down path to that record. They blew a game to Indy, had overtime wins against Tennessee and Houston, and lost to both of their perceived AFC challengers.
Again, Philly could very well be the one seed this postseason. It’s simply a lot harder when you’ve got Buffalo, Miami, Kansas City, and San Francisco on the docket instead of the AFC South and NFC North. There’s going to be more adversity as a result, and (thankfully) not as many Eagles fans dancing in peoples’ mentions and relentlessly talking smack. They’ll still be in your timeline running their mouths, but there might be some of that patented Brotherly pessimism as well.
To coach in Philly, one has to be optimistic but not delusional, firm but not condescending, and never, ever timid. These folks smell blood and go into a frenzy like piranhas in an Ernst Blofeld koi pond.
The only way to handle Philly media and fans is how Sirianni does it — he’s passionate, he’s a little defensive, and he’s honest. That goes a long way in that city, and it’ll work as long as they’re winning. If they had lost then the Brown stuff legitimately enters the news cycle, and reasonable fans have to discuss it (as opposed to sports bloggers grasping for clicks).
I can’t believe I’m not gaslighting Eagles fans right now, but there is no need to worry about this team until it’s not rugby scrumming its way to Ws. Let them lose a game, or go into halftime without a lead, before trying to turn a conversation between Jalen Hurts and AJ Brown into Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens 2.0.