The back end of the Eagles’ defense took another big hit this week as nickel back Avonte Maddox suffered what ESPN called a potential season-ending torn pectoral muscle in the 34-28 win over Minnesota Vikings Thursday.
The Eagles’ next move is to be determined. Nick Sirianni’s scheduled day-after news conference Friday was pushed to next week.
Sirianni himself injected drama into the Eagles’ 2-0 start by saying late Thursday that he intended to hold coaches and players “accountable” at their Friday morning team meeting.
The Eagles’ defense also was without linebacker Nakobe Dean, out at least four weeks with an unspecified foot injury.
Already without starting safety Reed Blankenship (ribs), who led the Eagles in tackles in the opener and starting cornerback James Bradberry (concussion), the Eagles were burned by Kirk Cousins for 364 yards and four touchdowns Thursday, including a 10-yard throw to K.J. Osborn with no defenders on his side of the end zone.
Counting the opener, the Eagles have allowed seven TD passes in two games.
“I think the first week was a cleaner game for the defense and not as clean for the offense and vice versa with that tonight,” Sirianni said. “A lot of teams would like to be sitting 2-0. Like I said, when you are in this position, and guys don’t know that we aren’t playing to the best of our abilities, that’s when you can make a lot of growth.”
The Eagles don’t play again until Sept. 25, a Monday night, at Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers (1-0) are 2.5-point favorites Sunday against the visiting Chicago Bears (0-1).
It was a difficult starting debut for Eagles cornerback Josh Jobe, who appeared to give up the Osborn scoring catch. But he hung in and played all 58 snaps on defense, the same as Slay and safety Justin Evans.
Nickel back Mario Goodrich played 39 snaps largely in place of Maddox, who played just 13.
Rookie fourth-round pick Kelee Ringo played just one defensive snap, as did undrafted rookie Eli Ricks. The Eagles could activate cornerback Mekhi Garner from the practice squad.
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The cameras showed Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown shaking his head during an animated conversation with Jalen Hurts on the sideline Thursday.
The apparent confrontation was intense enough that Sirianni intervened as he used an arm to back Brown off.
“The conversations we have on the field are going to be private, and the conversations we have in our locker room are going to be private,” Sirianni said. “You don’t need to know what was going on right there.”
Brown walked away shaking his head “no.”
With that being the only game on the NFL docket, the apparent Brown-Hurts tiff turned into a national conversation.
The Eagles traded first- and third-round picks to Tennessee to obtain Brown during the 2022 draft. They also gave him a four-year, $100 million contract that night.
Last season Brown was third in the NFL with a yards-per-catch average of 17.0 and fourth with 1,496 receiving yards. This season Brown has been little more than a checkdown, a decoy and a run blocker.
On Thursday Brown finished with four catches for 29 yards on six targets, the longest a 12-yarder. He also had a TD called back by a holding penalty on Rashad Penny, who saved Hurts from taking a hard hit on the play.
Hurts addressed that sideline conversation with Brown.
“I think everybody wants to make plays and everybody wants to contribute,” Hurts said. “I have no worry about him, he’s a great player, a great teammate, a great friend, and we’ll do anything and everything to win.”
Eagles teammate DeVonta Smith had four catches for 131 yards Thursday, including receptions of 54 and 63 yards, the latter for a score, on five targets. He also was front and center for the Hurts-Brown exchange.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Smith said.
Suffice it to say that Smith and Brown both have 11 receptions this season, Smith for an average of 16.2 yards per catch, Brown for an average of 9.8 yards. Smith also has two TDs while Brown has zero.
Last season Brown had 11 scoring receptions, Smith seven.
“We won,” Hurts said. “I don’t want to make it bigger than what it is. We’re talking about external factors here. Those things don’t matter. What’s said out there, that can potentially divide this group; (so) doesn’t matter. We won.”
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NOTES >> The Eagles have six takeaways in two games, five by the defense, one a pick-six by Slay. They have five offensive touchdowns. The Eagles average 29.5 points and have allowed 24.0 points. … The Eagles have won 19 of the last 20 regular-season games (.950) started by Hurts. Since the start of last season Hurts’ .750 winning percentage (24-8) leads all NFL quarterbacks. … The Eagles got just 11 snaps out of wide receiver Quez Watkins, who was trying to work through a leg injury according to the Prime network. … Eagles kicker Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field goal to tie his career-long and join an exclusive club. Elliott, Brett Maher (3), Sebastian Janikowski, Matt Prater and Justin Tucker are the only NFL players with multiple 60-plus yard field goals.
Source: Berkshire mont