PHILADELPHIA – Jalen Hurts authored a spectacular performance and Darius Slay sent a message against one of the NFL’s best receivers as the Eagles routed a mistake-prone Minnesota team 24-7 on Monday Night Football.
Most of the stock speculation is bullish for 2-0 Philadelphia, which is looking more like a contender heading into its first NFC East matchup on Sunday in Landover against the Washington Commanders.
JALEN HURTS – The QB played his best game as a professional, torching a Minnesota soft zone. He completed 11 straight passes to start the game and didn’t have his first incompletion until 7:01 was left in the first half, a miscue that was also a beautiful throw to Dallas Goedert but broken up by a late strip from Cam Dantzler.
The game was essentially over by halftime and Hurts was responsible for 301 of the Eagles’ awe-inspiring 347 yards over the first 30 minutes. He finished the game 26-of-31 for 333 yards with a TD and an interception that was a deflection off the hands of Kenny Gainwell.
DEVONTA SMITH – After getting no receptions in the opener, the Eagles immediately went to Smith on their first offensive play. The Minnesota defense had no answers for any of the Philadelphia receivers and Smith caught all seven of his targets, generating huge separation all night.
“Like I said, when the ball comes to you, you have to make the most of your opportunity.” Smith said. “So just going out there, us as an offense, executing, everybody got their opportunities and everybody made the most of them.”
DARIUS SLAY – Slay has two interceptions and had a chance at five – yes, five. He completely shut down Justin Jefferson and did that against a QB who threw a total of 7 interceptions last season. It was an absolutely dominating performance by a CB in the modern NFL environment.
“I take no match-up lightly, but he is one of the best in the world. I am one of the best in the world, too,” Slay said of Jefferson. “I was looking forward to the match-up.”
“He’s a competitor for sure,” Jefferson said of Slay. “I knew I was going to get that from him. I mean, he’s a great cornerback. He’s a great player.”
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THIRD DOWNS – The Eagles have been a great third-down offense since Nick Sirianni and Hurts teamed up and that continued against Minnesota with the offense converting 7-of-13 attempts. The defense, meanwhile, was even better with the mistake-prone Vikings succeeding on just four of 12 attempts.
JONATHAN GANNON – There’s at least one defensive coordinator worse than Jonathan Gannon. The Vikings’ veteran DC, Ed Donatell, came in with an awful plan while the embattled Gannon stymied an explosive Minnesota offense.
Gannon’s unit allowed just 264 total yards and made Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins look pedestrian.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL IN PASSING GAME – Landon Dickerson was caught twice illegally downfield and Isaac Seumalo was flagged once in the first 15 minutes. Meanwhile, DeVonta Smith was flagged for OPI.
That stuff has been a consistent problem since this coaching staff arrived, which would indicate the teaching is not there yet.
Add in a couple of false starts at home and a holding penalty that wiped out a 32-yard Quez Watkins gain and that’s the kind of sloppiness that would have been meaningful against a competent defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS ISSUES – The Vikings used mortar kicks because Watkins is not a threat at all as a kickoff returner. Meanwhile, Patrick Peterson got around the edge to block a Jake Elliott FG attempt that might have been a TD had Arryn Siposs not run down Kris Boyd, a cornerback. As impressive as that was for the athletic Siposs, getting the kicked blocked was more problematic.
RUNNING HURTS LATE – With the game well in hand and the clock running down, the Eagles used a designed run to Hurts. I’m on the you can’t legislate injuries team but running Hurts purposefully with the game in hand is just silly.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com’s Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen