When it comes right down to it, Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen wants the Eagles to do all the things that win football games – minimize mental mistakes, convert third downs, and make the most of every opportunity. He isn't looking for the sensational. Just a high level of play over and over and over again.
"Honestly, I just want to see execution more than anything," Steichen said Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex. "The consistency, day in, week in, week out, day in and day out, it's every day. You live in the moment, and you take one day at a time, and you go from there. It's just execution and consistency. That's what I want to see."
An offense that returns largely intact from 2021 and that added Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Brown is preparing for a Lions defense with Defensive Coordinator Aaron Glenn in his second season, but Steichen's focus is more on what the Eagles are doing. And it all starts with quarterback Jalen Hurts, in his third NFL season and his second as a full-time starter. This is, as has been well documented, Hurts' first season with the same playcaller in back-to-back seasons since Hurts played in high school.
That familiarity, Steichen says, has made a difference.
"I think it's just the confidence and the smoothness of everything he's doing," Steichen said. "Like I said, it's Year 2 in the system. I think with anything you develop some confidence being in Year 2 in that same system. So, you can see by the way he's playing, the way he's going through his reads, all those things we've said before. It'll be exciting to see on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it."
Detroit has added pieces to its defense. The most impactful could be the team's first first-round draft pick, No. 2 overall, end Aidan Hutchinson. The University of Michigan product is a rangy 6-foot-7, 265 pounds and he's been everything the Lions want.
Steichen has paid attention to Hutchinson while watching the Lions in the preseason.
"He's a heck of a football player. I really just talked about him as a football player, watching him in college, I mean he's explosive, he's long, he's powerful. You saw in the preseason him coming off the edge, just the explosiveness he plays with. So, we have to be ready for him," Steichen said. "I think in whole their defense, you watch them in the preseason game, just the way they're flying around with energy and effort, it's showing up big time from last year to this year.
"In the NFL, right, every game is going to be a challenge. I don't care who you play, where you play. You have to be ready to go. They have some good players. (DL Michael) Brockers is still there, linebackers, 34 (Alex Anzalone), 55 (Derrick Barnes); they have the rookie, (Malcolm) Rodriguez, 44; the corners, 1 (Jeff Okudah), 24 (Amani Oruwariye), and then the safeties, 5 (DeShon Elliott) and 21 (Tracy Walker III), are good players; and they have (Mike) Hughes from Kansas City.
"All those guys are flying around making plays, so we have to be ready for it."
The Eagles won't have backup left tackle Andre Dillard, who suffered an arm injury last week in practice. Steichen said the team has a plan to replace Dillard, but wouldn't divulge the details. New running back Trey Sermon joins the mix behind starter Miles Sanders, working in with Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell.
"He was a really good player coming out of college," Steichen said of Sermon. "Did a lot of really good things in San Francisco, as well, so excited to add him to that room. Like I said, Miles is our guy. We feel really good about that group, but to add another talented player like that, it'll be good for us."
In a 44-6 win over Detroit last season, the Eagles ran for 236 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries. It was a signature moment for the Eagles as they turned the season around and made a push for the playoffs, but Steichen isn't sure how much that performance will carry over into this year.
"We got on a roll there in that game by the way we ran the ball, so it was good. Obviously, you're going back through watching all the season, all the stuff, but it was good. Just to grow from that game and then continue to do what we did throughout the season," he said. "But every year is a new year. Every year is a new year. It's going to look different. It's not always going to be the same. It could be, you never know. Every year is a new year, so we're looking forward to the challenge this Sunday."