Eagles’ WRs coach explains why Brown-Smith dynamic works so well


PHOENIX — Aaron Moorehead wasn’t exactly sure how it would work.

As he sat on a chair on the outskirts of the craziness at Super Bowl LVII media night, the Eagles’ receivers coach thought back to when the Eagles acquired A.J. Brown in a trade on draft night.

He had seen Brown play and he knew how good of a player he was. But he didn’t know much else about Brown or his work ethic. And even though he was optimistic, he wasn’t exactly sure how the dynamic between Brown and DeVonta Smith would play out.

By any measure, it has gone exceptionally well.

And having two legitimate No. 1 receivers is one of the reasons the Eagles will play in the Super Bowl in a few days.

“It’s been a pretty cool year watching them grow together,” Moorehead said. “I don’t think either one of them quite knew how it was going to work. And I think as a staff, we’ve done a good job of allowing it to play itself out and be cognizant and realize these guys were going to have to play off each other.”

While Brown and Smith have complementary playing styles, that’s not what has made the duo so dynamic.

What has?

Competition. They compete in everything.

“For sure,” said Smith.

Bowling is a big deal between the two and so is speed. They argue quite a bit about which of them is faster.

But the competition extends to the football field as well.


“Really just want to go out there and make plays,” Smith explained. “You see one guy make plays, you think ‘Oh, I gotta go do it now. I’m not going to let him go out there and do it himself.’”

And even though they complement each other, both Brown and Smith can do a lot of the same things. So Moorehead said there are times when a play will be designed for one or the other or they’ll have a specific role and the one who is left out will start asking why it’s not for them. It’s a healthy competition. The kind of competition Nick Sirianni wants from his team.

It’s just also important to remember that they fight for each other too, like when Brown blocked to get Smith into the end zone in the Giants playoff game. That was the example Sirianni went to on Tuesday morning.

“It’s a very competitive atmosphere in our building,” Moorehead said. “Even when they’re in the weight room or in the locker room with all the little games they have in there, they’re always doing stuff. When you have competitive guys, I’m a competitive coach, it tends to push everybody forward in a positive direction. Everybody knows the standard and no one’s afraid to call each other out in the room if the standard is not met. So it’s been fun that way.”

Competitiveness is important for every player at the NFL level but Moorehead thinks it’s especially important for a receiver. And after playing five seasons in the NFL at the position, Moorehead ought to know.

Players need that competitive fire and Brown and Smith have it.

“You have to have it, especially as a wide receiver,” Moorehead explained. “You’re on an island out there with that DB. And every play is its own separate competition. Whether it’s a run play, a pass play, whatever it is. It’s your job to beat that guy 1-on-1.”

Smith this season continued the impressive start to his career. He caught 95 passes for 1,196 yards and 7 touchdowns. For many teams in the NFL, Smith would be a No. 1 receiver. But the Eagles have Brown, who caught 88 passes for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022.

But what Moorehead has learned about Brown this year is just how much work goes into his craft and how detail-oriented his is, especially in his preparation to face opposing defensive backs. He said he’s been “pleasantly surprised” about Brown’s work ethic.

Moorehead said he’ll get texts and calls from Brown at all hours asking him about his upcoming matchups. And Moorehead is always happy to help fill in the blanks as much as he can.

“He’s a worker and I’m really glad he’s here,” Moorehead said. “Not only only the field but also off the field. He’s brought so much to our receiver room and he’s helped DeVonta grow tremendously in his second year. And I think DeVonta has helped him grow as a player as well. Just the competitiveness between the two of them has definitely helped.”


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