The Washington Commanders (1-1) will host the Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) Sunday from FedEx Field in an NFC East showdown.
The top storyline for this game is Washington quarterback Carson Wentz facing his old team for the first time. The Eagles drafted Wentz No. 2 overall back in 2016, and he spent five seasons in Philadelphia before a one-year detour in Indianapolis.
Before the game, we spoke with Glenn Erby, the managing editor of Eagles Wire, to learn more about the Eagles.
Has Jalen Hurts already done enough to show the Eagles he’s the future?
Glenn Erby: There’s still a wait-and-see approach to such an important decision, and Philadelphia making a postseason run and improvement over the 9-8 record in 2021 will be a considerable factor. Thus far, Hurts has shown improved throwing mechanics, accuracy, and decision-making while looking more comfortable in the same system for the first time in his career. Philadelphia will need to decide if they can maintain a championship roster while investing $34-$40 a year to Hurts or if one of the 2023 NFL draft prospects can hit the ground running and keep the Eagles competitive on a new rookie deal. The Eagles could also decide to make Hurts play out his rookie deal, further evaluating his progress while extending the window for this current roster.
How has Hurts progressed as a passer?
GE: Jalen is a much-improved passer; you can see his vast improvement weekly. Hurts spent the offseason retooling his throwing motion while working on his accuracy and timeliness in the pocket. His teammates in Philadelphia spent the summer praising his improvement as a passer, and he’s only played 21 games as a professional. He’ll continue to improve and work on passing while rolling to his left while also working to utilize the middle of the field more.
Is the Eagles’ ground game more than just Hurts, or does it work so well because of Hurts?
GE: The answer is both things go hand and hand. Hurts’ ability as a runner opens things up for the running backs in RPO situations. Having dual threats like Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott allow the quarterback plenty of opportunities to keep the football and get positive yards with his legs. Both Hurts and the running backs benefit from having the NFL’s top offensive line, the real key to constant success.
What has A.J. Brown done for the offense as a whole?
GE: Brown has added a totally different swagger and physicality to the unit. He’s a more refined version of Deebo Samuel on the outside while having the ability to win one-on-one battles against many of the league’s top cornerbacks. Brown’s arrival has added increased confidence to Jalen Hurts. It gives Philadelphia a legit top-10 wide receiver while giving DeVonta Smith more time to develop without the pressures of carrying the receiving corps.
How good is the Eagles’ defense?
GE: Philadelphia has the talent to finish the season with a top 10 defensive unit, and they just need more time to mesh together. They pressure the quarterback at a high rate and have added hybrid linebackers who excel in space while being forceful against the run. The addition of James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson should pay the most significant dividend by season’s end.
How do you feel Philly’s secondary matches up with Washington’s wide receivers?
GE: They match up well and have a player that can counteract what all of the Commanders’ pass catchers do well. Slay and Bradberry can match up with Terry McLaurin, while either cornerback can be successful in coverage against Curtis Samuel. The matchup of Jahan Dotson and Avonte Maddox in the slot could decide the outcome for both teams.
What are your thoughts on Carson Wentz over the years?
GE: Wentz is a talented big-armed quarterback who can sometimes be his worst enemy. I still believe he has the overall arm talent to be an MVP candidate, but his inability to take what the defense gives him can be a detriment to the quarterback and thus trickles down. If he can trust his teammates and allow his trio of pass catchers to run with the football, the sky truly is the limit for Wentz.
GE: I believe Wentz is going to unload on the Eagles once this season. The karma of the entire situation suggests that he’ll have a huge game in the confines of FedEx Field while likely struggling during his emotional return to Lincoln Financial Field. Wentz keeps the Commanders close in a shoot-out, but the Eagles pull it out 38-27.