JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser each week during the 2022 regular season will speak with a writer or media member covering the Jaguars' opponent.
Up this week:
Dave Spadaro, Eagles Insider, on the Eagles' matchup with the Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Question: The Eagles are 3-0 with victories over the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Commanders. What's their state of mind entering Sunday?
Answer: They feel honestly like they haven't played a full game yet. They had a big lead in Detroit in Week 1 and the Lions came back and nearly caught up. They had a big lead at halftime against Minnesota in Week 2, then didn't score the rest of the way. They led big against Washington in Week 3, then didn't score in the second half. They feel like they're a team that is coming together and has a lot of belief in each other, but that they still haven't put a full game together yet. They know they're a very good football team, but when you know you're good, you don't get ahead of yourself. Three games in, a lot of things can go wrong to turn the season around.
Q: Quarterback Jalen Hurts is being discussed as an NFL Most Valuable Player candidate. Talk about his season thus far and his development.
A: Hurts is in his second year of an offense for the first time since high school. He never had the same coordinator/play-caller for two straight years since high school. So, now he's in Eagles Offense 201 and he's really taken off and taken that next step. Just as no one wanted to go too quickly the other way when he had moments that weren't too impressive, I think everybody's reserving it and taking it day by day. Everyone's rooting for Jalen Hurts. He's a great guy, extremely professional and extremely critical of himself. He works harder than everybody and relates great to his teammates. He has played very well. Teams have tried different things against him. Detroit blitzed him and he gashed them with runs and backed them off. Minnesota laid back and spied him a little bit and he had a huge day throwing the football. Washington spied him, laid back and he had a big day throwing downfield. He has been doing it from the pocket, which everybody's kind of been waiting for. And if you can't handle the multiplicity in the run game, he will gash you that way. He has one giveaway in three games, and that was a pass that went off the hand of a running back. That is great, great ball security.
Q: What are they offensively aside from Hurts?
A: It's maybe the best offensive line in the league. They're big and athletic and have played together. They're really, really good so that keys everything. They can beat you in a lot of ways offensively. They can run the football. They led the league in rushing last year and are seventh in the league in rushing this season. DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown are as good a 1-2 receiver punch as you'll find anywhere. Third receiver Quez Watkins is a speed guy who can beat you down the field. Dallas Goedert is tops in tight end YAC. They can grind out. They can bombs away. They can short pass you. They can tempo you. They come at you from a lot of different angles. They've only had three quarters of good offense and they have put up big, big numbers. They're just waiting to get it all right, their best 60 minutes. When they do, as [center] Jason Kelce told me after the Washington game, they will be a very, very tough team to beat.
Q: How do you see them defensively?
A: They struggled the first game against Detroit. The Lions made a late-game push. Since then they have been terrific. They shut down Kirk Cousins and a great Minnesota offense with three takeaways. They had nine sacks against Washington Sunday. They have a bunch of new pieces. Bringing in cornerback James Bradberry and nickel corner Avonte Maddox to work with cornerback Darius Slay really gives them matchups that are favorable. [Defensive tackle] Fletcher Cox has done a nice job and they go five deep at defensive tackle. They've been pretty good against the run here the last two weeks. They have been an outstanding defense the last two weeks. You can just see the pieces coming together with some more playing time that they've had with each other.
Q: This sounds like you're describing a pretty complete team.
A: They have been really complete. They've looked good for three weeks. No one's getting ahead of themselves, but it's a complete team right now. They got a taste of it when they reached the postseason in [Head Coach] Nick Sirianni's first year [last season]. Then they had a great offseason and all those pieces have really chipped into a 3-0 start. It's a team that believes in itself, but understands if you take a team lightly or don't finetune the details, it will catch up to you really quickly. They're keeping their heads down and playing solid football and trying to block out all the noise. In Philly, they either really love you or are really mad at you. Both of those reactions are hard to handle. The best thing to do is block it all out and that's what they're doing. There are enough guys here who won the Super Bowl [with the franchise following the 2017 season] that they know the perils of looking too far ahead.