Before you dive into this week's Morning Roundup, presented by DraftKings, don't forget to check out Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro's 16 instant takeaways from the Eagles' 38-31 win over the Washington Commanders to improve to a league-best 7-1 record.
Spadaro started with QB1's outstanding performance.
He wrote: "Let's start with (Jalen) Hurts because he was just terrific. The Eagles didn't have much of a running game going, so they relied on Hurts and he delivered four touchdown passes, completing 29 of 38 passes for 318 yards. Hurts is playing through some bumps and bruises – he's wearing a knee brace on his left knee – and he is just tough, calm, resilient, and on point with his throws. Washington put some pressure on him, but no matter. Hurts spread the ball around, was patient, and knocked it out of the park, averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt. It was one of the best pure passing games of his four seasons as an Eagle as he compiled a 135.7 passer rating."
Hurts surpassed 10K career passing yards, posting his highest QB rating of the season. He is just the seventh Eagles quarterback to reach the 10K milestone.
Not one to celebrate individual achievements, Hurts reflected on the team's ability to overcome a double-digit deficit on the road to beat a highly motivated division rival.
"It's just a journey and you have to really embrace the process of it and that's what I've done," Hurts said. "Not worry about anything else, but what's in front of us and in front of myself in terms of us going out there and winning. That's the only thing that matters. I think I am eternally, I'm able to light a fire in myself in terms of the standard that I wanna play to and I want the team to play to, but you know, we all feed off of that. We all feed off of our energy."
A.J. Brown's sixth straight 125-yard performance is one for the record books
Wide receiver A.J. Brown made history on Sunday in the 38-31 win over Washington at FedEx Field with his sixth straight game of 125-plus yards receiving (he had 8 catches for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns), but he was happier, by far, about the victory than about his numbers.
That's just the way he is, and the way this Eagles team prioritizes things.
"I can just say I really haven't had time to really digest what happened, but most importantly, I'm just so happy we got this win," said Brown, who now has 60 receptions, 939 yards, and 5 touchdowns. "It really wasn't going our way at first, but we found a way and I thought that was huge for this team."
Said Head Coach Nick Sirianni: "A.J. has done it better over a six-game stretch than anybody ever to play this game and that's pretty special."
Brown was spectacular as he's been all season, and maybe a better description is that he was sensational on Sunday. Included in his eight receptions (on eight targets, mind you) was a one-handed grab in the left corner of the end zone, a 16-yard pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts that the team practiced in Friday's red zone session.
They executed it then at the NovaCare Complex and they did it again on Sunday, this time with Washington cornerback Benjamin St. Juste all over Brown, who snatched the ball with one hand, reeled it into his body and got his feet and knees down for the score.
"I literally just did that at practice on Friday. It was the same corner (of the field) and everything. My teammates are like, 'I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised,'" he said, laughing.
Said Hurts: "It's just a thing of preparation. We try to lean on that so there is no wavering feeling when we're out there on the field. That's something I've seen him do for a very long time. He made a helluva catch. He's doing some very impressive things. He's playing at a very high level. He's always been consistent, and as a friend, I know what his mentality is and where it's coming from. It's not a surprise in the way he works, what he does in the offseason, what his mental is, and his why. I'm proud of him as a friend and as a quarterback. I'm proud that he's truly invested in winning and putting the team first."
Brown's second touchdown happened in the third quarter against double coverage as he came back to the ball, working toward Hurts to catch it at the 4-yard line, and plowed into the end zone to tie the game at 17.
It was that kind of day. It's been that kind of season.
"You've got to be humble in this game. You've got to be able to prove it each and every week. That's what I'm trying to do," Brown said. "I'm trying to come in and work and try to be better each and every day."
Brown did not think of the record when he set it in the second half. Instead, his focus was on the football game and getting the team's seventh win in eight weeks.
"Not at all. Not yet. I'm still working. I think there will be a time when I sit down and say, 'Go, A.J.' It's not it right now," he said. "We've got a big matchup (on Sunday). We've got Dallas. We've got to clean up some stuff. We've got to go to work. My teammates came and told me, but I was just focused on winning the game." – Dave Spadaro
Haason Reddick: The closer built for the spotlight
In baseball, the job of a closer is to enter the game in a high-pressure, high-leverage situation, looking to seal the win for their team.
For the Eagles, linebacker Haason Reddick has been a makeshift closer this season, making his mark late in the game during the biggest moments.
For the Temple University alumnus, he is just going out there and doing his job.
"I just go out there and play ball till it is all zeros on the clock in the fourth quarter," Reddick said.
The fourth quarter is where Reddick has been wreaking havoc, dominating the offensive line, and taking down the quarterback.
In the team's latest win over the Commanders, the defense was held without a sack until there were 2:18 left on the clock in the final frame.
Reddick made his move on tackle Andrew Wylie and got to quarterback Sam Howell just in the nick of time. The linebacker poked the ball loose from Howell's grasp, but it was picked up for the recovery by Wylie. The fumble did not matter because the big play happened on fourth down, setting up a D'Andre Swift rushing touchdown just a few plays later.
Reddick capped off his sack with his patented thumbs up, thumbs down celebration like he does after every big play.
"I am extremely blessed to have the ability to make those plays," Reddick said.
"When we put guys on an island with Haason, it gets really ugly," said cornerback Darius Slay. "It usually leads to a strip sack. He needs to continue to keep rushing the quarterback."
His teammates and coaches gave him the title of "closer" for a reason. He comes in and shuts down games late. He did that in Week 8 and has done that on numerous occasions this season.
In Week 4, the first meeting with the Commanders, Reddick got his first sack of the season, taking down Howell late in the fourth quarter.
The following week, Reddick closed out a road win over the Rams with two sacks on third and fourth down during the Rams' final drive of the game.
Reddick does nothing different from the first snap to the last. He credited his relentlessness for helping him stay focused and on top of his game for all 60 minutes.
"I have no answer other than being relentless," Reddick said. "I do not know what it is or what to call it, but I am grateful to be able to do it."
Reddick has now amassed a team-leading 6.5 sacks this season, with his first not coming until Week 4. The seventh-year veteran has 53.5 career sacks and three consecutive seasons with double-digit sacks.
Whether it is impacting the game early on or acting as a closer when the spotlight is turned on, Reddick understands his calling.
"The game means so much to me," Reddick said. "I am doing this because I am trying to leave something behind. I am literally trying to be one of the best at what I do. That pushes me; that is what drives me more than anything." – Owen Boyle
It's an NFC East rematch between the Eagles and the Washington Commanders. The Eagles look to sweep the season series and improve to 7-1 on the season. Washington hopes to avenge the OT loss at Lincoln Financial Field earlier this month.
Julio Jones has his moment
Veteran wide receiver Julio Jones signed with the Eagles on October 17 and has already made a major impact on his new team.
"He has been there, done that," DeVonta Smith said.
"Another great player onto the roster," D'Andre Swift said. "Just what he brings to the team, he has been in this league a long time doing great things consistently. He has been a great addition for us."
In his first game as an Eagle, last week against the Dolphins, Jones was targeted just once, making the catch for 3 yards.
Like his debut, Jones made one catch in Week 8, but this was one of great significance with an NFC East rivalry game hanging in the balance.
The game was tied at 24 with 7:24 left in the game. The Eagles' offense had the ball on the Washington 8-yard line for second-and-goal.
It was time to call Jones' name.
The wide receiver beat his man, cornerback Danny Johnson, off the line, darted to the middle of the end zone, and caught a bullet pass from Jalen Hurts. Jones came down with the ball while being hit by two defenders.
"They believe in me to go out there and execute and take advantage of the opportunity that is given," Jones said. "It was more so for the team, me going out there, playing my role, and doing it to the best of my ability."
The touchdown play was one that Head Coach Nick Sirianni and Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson just added to their arsenal.
Hurts and Jones had been practicing the play all week and it was finally added to the playbook on Friday.
"A lot of credit to Julio and Jalen," Sirianni said. "When that play went in on Friday, we had so much conviction in it because Julio and Jalen had so much conviction in it. They worked the crap out of it. I love it when something works out because of the way guys work."
"That is a play we have been practicing," Jones said. "You could not have drawn it up any better. They did exactly what they showed on film, and we just went out there and executed."
This was Jones' fourth career touchdown against Washington. He has now found the end zone in each of his four games against the NFC East team.
Jones' first touchdown catch as an Eagle came at a crucial moment, just two plays after Reed Blankenship intercepted Sam Howell. The score put the Eagles up for the first time all game, helping them improve to 7-1.
"He made a big-time play in a big-time moment," Hurts said. "I know he is not afraid of those. He has been in those moments a lot of times in his career. It was cool to see and cool to do." – Owen Boyle
For Reed Blankenship, critical interception came down to belief
Head Coach Nick Sirianni said after Sunday's win that belief was a consistent theme leading into the game.
"It's not blind faith in football," Sirianni said. "It's more the belief in each other is built through the players that we have, through this physicality they have, all those different things. They believe in each other because they put in the work and they see."
That belief helped Blankenship power through after quarterback Sam Howell targeted him on a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Logan Thomas to give Washington a 24-17 lead with 12:03 left in the game.
"That's the way the league goes sometimes. You're going to have some bad plays, but you have to stay in it," new Eagles safety Kevin Byard told Blankenship on the sideline.
Blankenship helped right, well, the ship with a momentum-altering interception, forcing one of the few mistakes made all day by the Commanders' offense. With 8:10 left, Blankenship noticed that Howell was staring down the back side of the field. The second-year safety made a read and darted toward the offering to wide receiver Terry McLaurin and notched his second interception of the season at Washington's 32-yard line. Blankenship's return, paired with an unnecessary roughness penalty, put the ball at the Commanders' 7-yard line. Two plays later, Julio Jones scored his first touchdown as an Eagle to put the team ahead for the first time all day, 31-24, with 7:17 left in the game.
"We were just waiting to capitalize on the opportunity and the opportunity came and you just got to make a play on the ball, especially at that crucial point in the game," Blankenship said. "I take this game kind of personal. Didn't get a lot of my job done today, but at the end of the day, you got to go back, fix your mistakes. A win's a win."
"It was huge," said Byard, who made his Eagles debut Sunday. "I told him on the sideline when we were sitting down, 'Hey, that's how you bounce back from a play.'"
Byard, the two-time All-Pro, has been around the league long enough to know firsthand that not everything is going to go according to plan.
"That's what the league is. I'm glad I have KB," said Blankenship, as both of the starting safeties hail from Middle Tennessee State. "He has my back and he said to shake it off and that's what happened. You can get exposed sometimes, so you just got to shake it off." – Chris McPherson
Kevin Byard on Eagles debut: We didn't live up to the standard
Acquired in a trade on Monday from Tennessee, Kevin Byard started alongside Reed Blankenship at safety and was on the field for all 72 defensive snaps in Sunday's win over Washington. He finished fourth on the team with seven tackles. Byard hasn't been in Philadelphia for a week yet, but knows that the secondary needs to raise its level of play.
"I will never apologize and I think we should never apologize. To win in this league, it's very hard to do," Byard said. "But as a secondary, back seven, we have to be better. We weren't clean enough on the details. (Terry McLaurin) dropped a couple of passes on some crucial situations. We weren't executing in those crucial situations. Obviously, the pick that Reed (Blankenship) got kind of changed the game for us, but for the most part, we weren't clean enough and that's myself included.
"There's a certain standard that we need to have as DBs, period. And I think we didn't live up to that standard today, honestly. We won. It's great that we won. But I just think as a whole that's something we're going to talk about this week. We have to practice harder. We have to meet better. We have to do all of those things to make sure that we're giving ourselves a great chance to win games." – Chris McPherson