The Detroit Lions were strong in the fourth quarter, making what looked like an easy victory for the Eagles turn more into a chilling 38-35 escape under cover of night—after being up 38-21 in the fourth quarter.
So, praise became sparse.
Now, the Eagles, once the darling choice by the so-called national pundits, will be playing for an identity this Monday night against the visiting Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field.
Minnesota tuned up what was supposed to be a Super Bowl-contending Green Bay squad, 23-7, in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s NFL debut. The Vikings looked every bit as good as the Eagles were supposed to look.
Justin Jefferson, forever a part of Eagles’ lore for the generational talent that the Eagles failed to pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, torched Green Bay, considered a better defense than the Eagles at the start of the season, for an NFL Week 1- and career-best 184 yards receiving on nine catches from 11 targets, and scored two touchdowns.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins led an offense that rolled up 395 yards of total offense. The Vikings defense sacked Aaron Rodgers four times and forced two turnovers—led by underrated linebacker Eric Kendricks and former Eagles’ linebacker Jordan Hicks.
It’s why the Eagles’ game against visiting Minnesota carries vital importance—even this early in the season.
The Eagles need to find where they are. Minnesota is the team that will test that.
Detroit’s Jared Goff completed 21 of 37 for 215 yards and two touchdowns, while converting nine of 14 third-down attempts. The Lions have nowhere near the offensive firepower as the Vikings.
And no one near as good as Jefferson, who in his first two years in the NFL has caught 196 passes for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns in comparison to the player chosen before him in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jalen Reagor, who caught 66 passes for 695 yards and three touchdowns.
Now, Reagor, ironically, is a Viking.
And Jefferson is a terror to opposing defenses.
“He can beat you all different types of ways, so when you’re looking at his game, he’s not a one-dimensional guy,” Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said about Jefferson on Tuesday. “He can take the roof off, he can beat you underneath, he can beat you with yards after catch. They do a really good job of deploying him different ways, so it’s hard to have a plan for him to always have two guys on him. It’s going to be a good challenge for us, and we’ll be up for it.”
When asked earlier this week if Gannon is under any scrutiny after the fourth-quarter collapse in Detroit, Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni voiced his public support for his DC, saying. “I have a ton of confidence in Jonathan. 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 Eagles and their fanbase may have the answer to an interesting question on Monday night: Was it one bad quarter in Week 1? Or are the Eagles in trouble of being an overrated team, similar to the infamous Vince Young utterance in the summer of 2011 when he said, “Dream Team,” after the Eagles signed and acquired a bunch of shiny, new parts for a team that landed at a mediocre 8-8?