【N.J】 Rout of Vikings must put undue Eagles criticism to rest – – – New Jersey News

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The Eagles completed a productive offseason, prepared nicely for their Week 1 task, traveled to play in the loudest stadium in pro sports, rang up a 38-spot, defeated an improving conference opponent and took a quick lead in the NFC East.

Their thanks for a Week 1 win in Detroit?


Days and days of it.

Complaints hurled and angst spread.

Insults murmured and apologies demanded.

“We have to do a better job,” center Jason Kelce would say in the tense hours after a three-point victory over the Lions. “And it starts with me.”

That the unnecessary atonement came from Kelce was notable, for the veteran center will be remembered for publicly scolding fans for undue criticism during the Eagles’ scoot to a world championship in 2017-18. He has been trademarked as the chest-thrust-out defender of all Eagles success, yet there he was misappropriating the tired but famous lament of Andy Reid. It was Reid who sleepily would recite a similar confession after any Eagles loss, and while the sentiment was lousy with insincerity, it was never inaccurate. But not even Reid felt obligated to send any verbal make-up bouquets after winning.

So there was something about the reaction to that Opening Day victory – underline victory – in Detroit that said one of two things: Either the Eagles’ internal film study revealed they were historically fortunate to prevail or they were so bloody special that simply winning a tight road game was no longer sufficient for a natural high.

By Monday night, when they overwhelmed the visiting Minnesota Vikings, 24-7, the 2-0 Eagles had their answer: They are too complete a team to deserve such relentless badgering, even from themselves.

Though the Eagles did crunch that 38 in their opener, seven points resulted from James Bradbury’s interception return for a touchdown, and much of the remaining balance was the result of their tense reliance on Jalen Hurts to concoct something from little. The Lions strangely lax in concentrating on him, the Eagles’ quarterback ran for three successful third-down conversions. He had 17 carries, 90 rushing yards and a one-yard touchdown dart, which on that day in that loud Michigan dome was critical.

But if anything were to spring from that homage to single-wing football it was the concern that it could not endure for 17 weeks. As for two weeks? In that, the Eagles were quick to show that their offense could be elite by using the first 5:51 to drive 82 yards for a touchdown on their first possession Monday night against the Vikes. The touchdown: Another Hurts run, this time for three yards. And with 1:56 left in the half, there was Hurts closing 26 yards for another running touchdown, squirming out of some trouble and running through multiple Vikings to avoid more.

Hurts’ quickness with the ball is remarkable, and as long as he is permitted running room, the Eagles’ offense will be a handful. The only question, particularly to the physical-risk-averse Nick Sirianni, is how long a quarterback can be expected to win games with his legs in the violent endeavor that is pro football.

“Obviously, I never want Jalen to take unnecessary hits,” Sirianni said. “But we have to remember, too, that one of the things that makes Jalen special is his ability to create when something is not there or when we have one more guy than we can block.”

After Week 1, when quarterback Jared Goff politely mentioned that his Lions could have scored 50, the Eagles were made to explain not how they scored 38 points but how they surrendered 35. In that, as per the unwritten rules of the only sport where the assistant coaches are given too much attention, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was treated to seven days of public griping.

But early Monday, the Eagles showed they were prepared, neutralizing Justin Jefferson with Darius Slay and befuddling the Vikings with some new defensive looks.

“We’ll figure it out,” said Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell.

The Vikings did quickly respond to a 53-yard scoring reception by Quez Watkins with a nine-play, 75-yard drive for a score. But by halftime, the Eagles had a 17-point lead, largely because of Gannon’s aggressive game plan.

“I have a ton of confidence in Jonathan,” Sirianni had said. “That’s why he’s here. As far as the pressure, this is the NFL and this is Philly. We know what the expectation is and the expectation is to win football games. That’s our job as coaches to figure out how we can put the players in position to win as many as we possibly can.

“Confidence level? Super high. Pressure? Nothing new to us. That’s what the NFL is all about.”

The NFL is about pressure and dealing with it when it is over the top.

It’s also about winning.

The Eagles did that enough last season to reach the playoffs. Flaws aside, they have shown plenty in the first two weeks of the encore to be trusted to do it again without a season-long cascade of verbal and written torment.

Contact Jack McCaffery at jmccaffery@delcotimes.com

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