Cleaning out the notebook from Sunday's 42-30 loss to the Chiefs and looking ahead to the road game at the 3-1 Panthers this week. It doesn't get easier for the Eagles, who are 1-3 on the season …
1. That the Eagles were able to cobble together a strong effort from the offensive line, one that had literally been put in place only hours before kickoff on Sunday was pretty remarkable. Both Jack Driscoll at right tackle and Nate Herbig at right guard played very well, and Landon Dickerson made the conversion from right guard to left guard nicely. Jeff Stoutland again reminds us that he is a premier offensive line coach, and when you break things down, the Eagles really do have a strength along the offensive line. That strength, Head Coach Nick Sirianni told me on Monday, is what the Eagles are building around as they define a "personality" for the offense in 2021. The Eagles are tough, physical, versatile, and athletic up front, and they have some depth, clearly. Sirianni said he has "no update" on the status of right tackle Lane Johnson, who didn't play on Sunday because of "personal reasons." Right guard Brandon Brooks remains out with a pectoral injury and left guard Isaac Seumalo is out for the season with a foot injury.
2. Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith had his breakout game with seven receptions for 122 yards against Kansas City and leads the Eagles with 18 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown. Sirianni said that Smith's greatest improvements have been with his release off the line of scrimmage and the use of his hands at the top of the route to get a defender's hands off him, and his quickness to separate has been everything the Eagles thought he had. The Eagles understand that cornerbacks want to get physical with Smith and try to redirect him. Smith has to separate from that contact and on Sunday he was able to have his way with the Chiefs' defense in his best day as an NFL player.
3. Sirianni on his confidence level in Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon, when asked during his Monday press conference: "I'm still very confident in Jonathan. Let's not forget the first two weeks – we stoned an Atlanta offense and then we stoned the San Francisco offense. At that point, there was a lot of chatter about how good Jonathan was doing. I still think he's doing good. Obviously, you come off two games (Dallas and Kansas City) … that's not good enough. I know what he's capable of. I know what the defense is capable of and I know what his defensive staff is capable of, so I'm very confident that we'll get these things fixed and that we'll improve from this."
4. On Jalen Hurts, Sirianni raved about the quarterback's performance in the Kansas City game and has been upbeat about Hurts since Day 1. "What I saw yesterday from him was consistency over and over and over again. I think anybody can go out there and make a 'splash' play. But can they do it week in and week out and can they do it consistently through the first, second, third, and fourth quarters? That's what was impressive about Jalen's game yesterday is that he continually made good plays with the football, good decisions with the football, he was accurate with throws, he made some scrambles when he had to make scrambles." Sirianni said he didn't want to "cage in" Hurts' talent to escape the pocket when the plays are there to be made both when he's a runner and when he still has a chance to throw the football down the field to his receivers.
5. Placekicker Jake Elliott made three field goals on Sunday and is now 5-of-6 on his field goal tries this season. The only miss was the blocked attempt against San Francisco, so this is a good note to make. Elliott is in a groove and has been since the summer.
6. Having lost three straight games and with a tough schedule ahead, what is Sirianni's approach to keeping his team upbeat? "I have to come in here with the same energy every single day and know that they can come in here and see a head coach who is consistent with his delivery and how he makes corrections and how he fixes mistakes and how he handles adversity and how he handles success. My job is to do that to keep everybody even-keeled and just be consistent with who I am every day."
7. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox hasn't put up his usual dominating numbers through four games, but Sirianni believes that because Cox is getting a lot of attention from opposing offensive linemen, other players have chances to step up. "We have to do more to get him singled, but we also have to make the plays with the players when they're not singled (blocked) … I know the stats aren't there, but he's doing things to help us even though the stats aren't there," Sirianni said. "But we've got to make sure that we're allowing him to eat as well."
8. On the 2021 Eagles rookie class, which is playing a lot, Sirianni told me: "We scouted the right guys and were able to use these guys and that's what you want. You want to be able to bring guys in and play them. That's why you drafted them in the first place. I'm really excited about the opportunities they're getting and how they're taking advantage of those opportunities. We continue to look to use their talents to be successful on offense and defense."
9. Interesting note here: I asked Sirianni on Monday about the criticism the team has received for its red zone performance, even though the Eagles were 5-of-6 prior to Sunday and even after the 3-of-6 success rate against Kansas City still rank 10th in NFL red zone efficiency. His response: "Three-of-six was not going to cut it against the Chiefs and so the criticism is fair. I accept the responsibility of that criticism and we're going to work like crazy to get better at it." The thing with Sirianni is that he's more critical of himself than anyone on the outside.
10. Carolina is next after losing its first game of the season on Sunday to Dallas. The Panthers entered the game first in the NFL on defense with 45 rushing yards permitted per game and the Panthers led the league in quarterback sacks as well. Dallas ran for 245 yards and quarterback Dak Prescott wasn't sacked. So, what gives with the Panthers? "We gotta go out there and expect their best," Sirianni said. "We know they're a talented defense, we know they're a well-coached defense, we know they're a well-coached team. We've got to put our players in good positions as coaches. That's our job."