Slay And J
Q&A: Slay Keys Birds D; Hurts Takes Major Step
The Philadelphia Eagles played a complete game in their 24-7 Monday night victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
On the latest episode of “Q&A” on Inside The Birds, former Eagles Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell highlighted the standout performances from the victory and previewed Sunday’s matchup against the Washington Commanders.
Quintin Mikell: “If you really look back at the first game and the second game, two different types of game plans. The Lions came out, they were blitzing and coming after it, Jalen was doing the smart thing tucking the ball and running – and making plays with his feet when he needed to. Almost the opposite game plan this week, (Vikings defensive coordinator Ed) Donatell came out with a straight Cover 2 thinking, ‘We’re just going to wait until Jalen makes a mistake and gives us one,’ and he didn’t. He just carved them up. One of the biggest things to me that you can notice as a former player and a fan of the game, in the opening series, they went five-wide empty. Usually, you do that when you trust your quarterback. I was actually really pleased to see OC Shane Steichen put the ball in Jalen’s hands and let him take opportunities to show what he can do. It’s showing that his progression is farther ahead than we all thought.”
Jason Avant: “Here’s where I was totally impressed with Jalen Hurts: The formula for beating him is a fast linebacker playing in coverage. Last year, he took coverage sacks where they got to him but there was somebody open that he could have thrown it to. That wasn’t the case [against Minnesota]. And it wasn’t just about him doing that, it was the confidence that he exuded. He threw the ball with confidence. He wasn’t aiming, he wasn’t hoping it got there, he let it ride on most of the throws and he was extremely accurate to the point that he was almost in the second quarter before he missed a target… Now, I’m trying contain how I’m excited to see that because it was basically playing the 2021 Jonathan Gannon defense the entire game – Cover 2, Cover 4, and Cover 6. The entire game plan was that, with no blitzing and this straight four-man rush. Even with that, we haven’t seen him play this well (before).”
Mikell: “If all of the receiving corps can play as well as they did and can run after the catch, catch deep balls, catch slants, catch screens – if every single one of those receivers are able to multiple things, it makes it way harder for defenses to really be on point. I was very impressed with it.”
Avant: “In order for you to get YAC yards, the ball has to be in a good stop and you have to be on time. If the ball is late, the defender is close. If the ball is uncatchable or in a bad spot, you have to go down or stop which brings the defender to you. If the ball is on the money and on time, you have yards after the catch. That talks about how Jalen Hurts is, and how prepared he was, for this game and for this moment.”
Mikell: “I love good defensive back play. Great technique, smart plays, reading the defense, sitting on routes when you can, playing deep when you’re supposed to. It was a flawless game by the secondary. It was something that we’ve been starving for, for a long time. Every one of those players in that back four made a play or helped make a play.”
Avant: “I was excited about (Darius) Slay. His first interception, he knew it was a double post. He saw No. 2 beeline for the middle of the field. He’s in Cover 3, he’s supposed to be outside, he cheated a whole yard and a half inside.”
Mikell: “I’m a huge blitz guy. I think that (Jonathan) Gannon did a very good job timing up the blitzes. I think he did a great job of designing them and when he did bring pressure he had Kirk (Cousins) running scared…I will say this: I’m OK with the pressures, but I do think we need to start generating more pass rush without having to blitz.”
Mikell: “I think they’re going to put up a better fight than the Vikings did. Ron Rivera knows this area, he knows the team, he’s an old-school coach. I wouldn’t say I’m not as worried about Carson (Wentz). Carson can get dangerous; he can get hot at times. That receiving corps is not bad. I think we’re going to be OK, I think we’re going to win this one, I just don’t think it’s going to be as easy as the last game.”
Avant: “It’s going a tough game because this was an emotional win. Jalen played good, the defense played good, you had everything to play for, it’s Monday night, everyone on sports-talk radio talking about the Eagles are the NFC representatives in the Super Bowl. It’s very hard to overcome that stuff mentally because you feel like you’ve arrived. This is a very vulnerable game for our team. The Commanders are coming off a bad loss, they’re going to want to play better, and you come off of a great win and being lauded as the best team in the NFC, it’s dangerous and it scares me a little bit. Now, can we make Carson do some Carson stuff and give us the football? I think you can do that if you give him some pressure.”
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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