PHILADELPHIA – When things are clicking with the Eagles’ offense, it’s usually pick your poison for opposing defensive coordinators.
A fractured forearm, along with a 1,000-yard start over nine games for A.J. Brown has made that decision easier for most and Steve Spagnuolo came up with a plan that limited the Philadelphia offense to 238 total yards in Kansas City.
Ultimately, though, DeVonta Smith got the Chiefs to the tune of six receptions for 99 yards, most notably a 41-yard go route on a check from Jalen Hurts that put the Eagles in position to win a 21-17 game and move to 9-1 on the season.
Brown set an NFL record with six consecutive games over 125 receiving yards earlier this season and he’s the player defenses are trying to take away.
Kansas City accomplished that goal and limited the star receiver to one reception on four targets for just eight yards. The fact that the Chiefs still couldn’t accomplish the ultimate goal speaks to the level of playmakers like Smith and running back D’Andre Swift, who finished with 107 all-purpose yards (76 rushing and 31 receiving).
Still, the book might be out on the Eagles in advance of Sunday’s game against talented but underachieving Buffalo (6-5), at least until Goedert returns perhaps as early as Dec. 10 at Dallas.
“It’s the new world I’m living in,” Brown said when asked about the attention he’s been getting.
— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) November 25, 2023
A proud player Brown is like most great NFL receivers in that he always wants the football.
The “Always Open” signs that adorn Brown’s locker are not meant to be taken literally. It’s a mindset that Brown turns most 50/50 balls into better odds for the offense.
He and Hurts are close friends off the field as well and their relationship allows for tough conversations in-game that may look awkward to those on the outside but it’s just business as usual for the Eagles.
Brown took the blame for a miscommunication against the Chiefs in which he broke off a route where he was the hot read, resulting in a Hurts interception.
“I did beat my guy, but in that situation, I didn’t see a blitz zero and that route I can’t change,” he explained. “I have to keep my route. That’s what really happened. It’s an unwritten rule, when you really beat a guy, you put your hand up, like a mailbox.
“A little light went off in my head, I’m like, ‘Hey, he’s not even paying attention to me, like I can run by him.’ That’s what I was doing. Jalen was hot and had to reset his feet to throw the ball. That was on me.”
The concern moving forward is frustration in the coming weeks if Brown continues to be limited by bracket coverage.
“I think I can just control what I can control,” the receiver said. “Come to work and try to get better and focus on my details, my routes, my assignment, but I can’t really think about that type of stuff.
“That’s a coaching thing. I can’t do nothing about that.”
Winning is the magic salve for everything and better than any receiving number is the reality Brown’s presence has provided to the offense.
The final piece to Nick Sirianni’s offensive puzzle when he was acquired on draft night back in 2022 from Tennessee, the Eagles have had at least a share of the NFL’s best record for the 29 regular-season weeks Brown has been with the organization.
“Whenever my number’s called, I have to make the most of it,” Born said. “My opportunities are being limited because of it, but I’m not complaining. I’m very grateful and I’m very flexible in this situation. It’s a respect thing, too. I just have to stay locked in and make the most of every opportunity.”