Eagles football is back, and on Sunday we... actually had fun?! Wait, is that allowed?!
It's been a long time since Birds fans had something to root for and enjoy after the joyless 2020 season, but in the Eagles' double-digit Week 1 win over the Falcons there was plenty to like on both sides of the ball.
Let's ride the euphoria and dive into a surprisingly fun victory with some instant overreactions:
1. Nick Sirianni was the right hire
Folks, the Eagles have their head coach of the future.
Nick Sirianni has been a head coach for exactly one game in the NFL, but he is the guy the Birds needed. On Sunday he passed every test I could've asked for with flying colors.
The first series script was a beautiful mixture of smart play design, innovative and fun calls, and a nose for playing to the guys' strengths. Sirianni had four pass catchers tight on one play, and then later had five of them spread as wide as possible. He drew up a great route for DeVonta Smith's first career touchdown, and gave Jalen Hurts room to operate in space and on the move.
That theme continued all day. Sirianni clearly has a firm grasp on what his guys do well, and where their limitations are. He gave Hurts plenty of easy reads in the first game in a new system. He leaned on zone read runs with Sanders and Gainwell. He gave Hurts the green light to pull the ball down and make plays with his feet. And he made sure Smith was plenty involved in his first game with the Eagles, giving the rookie wide receiver plenty of chances to capitalize on his space-making off the line.
I loved it all.
In terms of head coach decision-making, Sirianni got multiple shots at fourth-down choices and I liked every one he made. The calls on the fourth-down plays left something to be desired, but the fact that Sirianni was willing to listen to the numbers and leave his offense on the field is very encouraging. Doug Pederson was extremely aggressive, one of the bigger risk-takers in the NFL for four years, and we weren't sure whether Sirianni would follow his lead or take a different tact. So far, Sirianni doesn't seem to shy away from tough choices when they're the right ones.
Sirianni also capitalized on a mistake by the Falcons late in the first half when the Dirty Birds lined up offside on the extra point attempt. Sirianni took the ball at the one and pounded it in for a two-point conversion instead of just taking the kick. You've got to love a head coach who's paying attention and looking for any chance to turn an error by the opponent into an extra point, and extra momentum.
And he nailed a fourth-quarter challenge of a Russell Gage "catch" on the sideline.
Smart decisions. Heads-up attention to detail. Great scheming.
Nick Sirianni, welcome to the big leagues.
2. Dallas Goedert is definitely TE1
Zach Ertz missed a little time in the second half with a hamstring issue, but even outside of the injury question it's pretty clear that Dallas Goedert is the TE1 in this offense.
The fact that Ertz returned at all to the Eagles this year was a surprise, but his role seemed pretty defined after the first game of the season.
Let's take a quick look at the stat breakdown:
Goedert: 5 targets, 4 catches, 42 yards, 1 touchdown
Ertz: 2 targets, 2 catches, 34 yards
Goedert got the start when the Eagles took the field to begin their first drive and was regularly targeted by Hurts all afternoon. He looked good, too, making defenders miss and getting himself open in the red zone for Hurts' second touchdown pass of the first half:
It's probably a good idea to temper your Goedert expectations considering he went off in a big way last year in Week 1 — 8 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD — before following it up with 4 catches for 30 yards in Week 2, and never topped those Week 1 figures the rest of the season. (It's also hard to blame Goedert for that considering he was hurt and his quarterback was a trainwreck.)
But the hierarchy has clearly been established after one game. Ertz is back in the fold, and he made one big catch that could've been bigger with a better throw, but he's no longer this team's top tight end option.
3. Arryn Siposs is already a Top-5 punter
A little punter chatter to take us into Sunday night!
The Eagles' replacement for Cam Johnston had big shoes to fill after Johnston had a very solid 2020. Plenty of fans were frankly shocked by the decision to move on.
But Siposs was an absolute stud on Sunday afternoon in his NFL debut, pinning a pair of punts inside the 10 in clutch situations, giving the momentum back to the Birds after drives came to screeching halts.
Punting is definitely one of those things that gets largely overlooked in the NFL. There's a big difference between a team starting a drive on their own 8 and their own 20. In a study of college football field position, teams starting from the 21-25 yard line scored 10% more frequently than teams starting from the 6-10 yard line. That's a solid difference!
Having Siposs as a little bit of a secret weapon back there could wind up being the difference between a 9-8 team and a 10-7 team, which could be the difference between a Wild Card or NFC East champion, and a team sitting at home come playoff time.
Is that looking way too far right now, considering it's Week 1, and maybe extrapolating a bit too much after one performance? You bet! But this is Instant Overreactions, not Instant Measured Takes.
Siposs is a boss, and the Eagles are better for it.
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