After a big start against the Falcons in his first NFL game – 6-for-71 with a touchdown -- it’s been a quiet couple weeks for DeVonta Smith.
A couple catches for 16 yards against the 49ers and 3-for-28 Monday night against the Cowboys.
It’s the first time since the middle of his sophomore year at Alabama in the fall of 2018 that he’s had fewer than 30 yards in back-to-back games.
Is it a matter of adjusting to the big, tough, physical corners he sees every week in the NFL?
Smith says no.
“It really has nothing to do with them,” he said Thursday. “It’s just with me, really. Just knowing I have to be better at the top of my route and things like that. It really has nothing to do with them. It’s all down to me and my route running.”
Jalen Hurts has targeted Smith 13 times over the last week, connecting just five times.
Including eight targets in Atlanta, Smith has been targeted 21 times. Of 61 NFL wide receivers who’ve caught at least 10 passes, Smith ranks 57th in the NFL with just 5.48 yards per target. He has yet to catch a pass of 20 yards or more, and Hurts and Smith have missed several times on deep balls.
What’s the issue?
“Just the timing with me and Jalen,” Smith said. “Just that and overall just executing as an offense. Just every little detail. Every little thing matters. So if one thing is wrong that’s going to stop anything (good) from happening.”
The low point so far came in the Cowboys game, when he slipped coming out of his break, and Trevon Diggs had an easy interception, which he returned 59 yards for a touchdown.
It probably would have been an INT either way but maybe not a touchdown if Smith didn’t fall down.
“I just lost my footing,” He said. “I’ve got to do a better job running my routes, just staying up. Right when it happened, when I stood up, I was like, ‘Yeah that’s my fault.’ I’ve got to stay up. Just working on me running the top of my out routes and things like that, just trying to find the small details to fix that up.”
Smith’s two-game lull is a combination of Sirianni not doing enough to get him going, Hurts misfiring on a few throws and Smith not being as precise in his route running as he could and not as aggressive to the ball as he needs to be.
“You gotta hit him,” Hurts said. “Gotta hit him. Bad little things happen on my end, I’ve got to be better for him. I just need to hit him.
Hurts and Nick Sirianni have to find ways to get Smith involved in the offense, because the Eagles didn’t draft Smith 10th overall to see him with 16 or 28 receiving yard
And it's no coincidence that they scored 32 points when Smith had a big game, and they've scored 11 and 17 points when he hasn't.
“I think when you're kind of in a ... I don't want to say rut, because I don't believe it's that - but when you have that (rut), we've just got to get him a couple easy touches here and there," Sirianni said. "And that's kind of like what you do with a quarterback, too, or a foul shooter or a good shooter. You've got to see the ball go through the hoop a couple times.
“He's a confident guy, so it's not to get his confidence back but just to get him in a groove.”
When you’ve lived through Kenny Jackson, Mike Bellamy, Victor Bailey, Reggie Brown, Todd Pinkston, Nelson Agholor and Freddie Mitchell – all 1st- or 2nd-round picks – it’s understandable to start panicking when an Eagles 1st-round WR has a couple disappointing games.
But Smith is too good to stay down.
If Sirianni can coach a little better, Hurts can throw it a little better and Smith can catch it a little better, they’ll be onto something.
“Just make the most of my opportunities,” Smith said. “As an offense, we’ve got to execute better. That’s the main thing. Us executing better, not putting ourselves in bad situations. If we do that, then the ball’s going to find who it’s going to find.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to do your job. When the ball comes to me, I’ve got to make the most of the opportunity.”
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