The Philadelphia Eagles will head to the Motor City to open up the 2022 season against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Eagles are coming off a 2021 season where some argued they overachieved with a 9-8 record and a wild card playoff berth under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni.
Heading into this season, expectations have soared in Philadelphia due to the acquisitions made in the offseason by general manager Howie Roseman. The Eagles made a flurry of moves on both sides of the ball to bolster their 53-man roster.
Beginning with the defense, the Eagles added to a group that did not generate a ton of pressure in 2021. The Eagles were ranked 31st in sacks, only generating 29. To fix their pass rushing issues, the Eagles signed former Panthers and standout Temple linebacker Haason Reddick in free agency and selected former University of Georgia interior defensive lineman Jordan Davis in the 2022 NFL draft.
The Eagles also addressed a position they had neglected over recent years by signing veteran linebacker Kyzir White from the Chargers and drafting Nakobe Dean from the University of Georgia. Dean and Davis were among the 15 Bulldogs selected in this past year’s draft.
Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean are gonna be a problem 🤫 pic.twitter.com/blFSubjTlb
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 13, 2022
Philadelphia also made some moves in the secondary, opting not to re-sign cornerback Steven Nelson and longtime starting safety Rodney McLeod in the offseason. To replace Nelson and McLeod, the Eagles brought in former Giants cornerback James Bradberry and made a late preseason trade that saw them land 24-year-old C.J. Gardner-Johnson from the Saints.
Along with the new faces on defense, the other notable players to watch out for this season will be defensive end Brandon Graham, who missed 15 games last season due to a torn Achilles, and safety Marcus Epps. Epps will slide into the starting safety role and play an integral role in the Eagles’ pass defense.
With all these new acquisitions, second-year defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has his work cut out for him this season. Gannon explained what adjustments he plans to make heading into year two at a recent press conference.
“Just trusting the players a little bit more, and say hey this is how we are going to do things. This is the job description, it’s very clear, here’s the standard that we want to do, and from my standpoint is being comfortable with our guys and letting them go play fast.”
Looking to the offensive side of the ball, Philadelphia will head into its second season with 24-year-old quarterback Jalen Hurts at the helm. Last season, Hurts started 15 games and threw for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also rushed 784 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
The Eagles gave their third-year quarterback some additional help in the offseason by acquiring No. 1 wide receiver A.J. Brown from the Titans on draft night. Brown will help improve the Eagles’ passing game this season, which many were critical of last season.
According to PFF, the Eagles have the No. 1 offensive line in football, and with the addition of Brown, plus the development of the young offensive weapons in DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, Hurts is poised to make that jump.
As for the Eagles’ Week 1 opponent, they (Lions) are coming off of a disappointing 2021 season, finishing with a record of 3-13-1. Detroit was the last team to win a game in 2021 and is looking to continue its rebuild this season and develop its young players.
Dan Campbell is returning for his second season as head coach as he is continuing to bring the passion as seen in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series, where the Lions were featured this summer.
You can tell this season means a lot to Dan Campbell. (via @NFLFilms)#HardKnocks with the @Lions now available on @HBOMax pic.twitter.com/SewQdWvScJ
— NFL (@NFL) September 7, 2022
The Lions had the second overall pick in this year’s draft and used it on Heisman Trophy runner-up Aidan Hutchinson. The 6-foot-7 defensive lineman out of Michigan has lofty expectations surrounding him, and his first test will be against a top-ranked offensive line in the regular season opener.
Detroit did not make a ton of notable offseason moves but did bring in wide receiver D.J. Chark, who is looking to resurrect his career with Detroit and will be alongside second-year wide receiver Amon St. Brown.
Both young receivers will be catching passes from veteran quarterback Jared Goff, who is in his second season with Detroit since being traded from the Rams a couple of years ago. Goff looks to rebound after an average last season, where he threw for 3,245 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Here’s the injury report for both teams heading into Week 1:
- Questionable: OLB Julian Okwara (Hamstring), OL Frank Ragnow (Groin)
- Doubtful: DB Ifeatu Melifonwu (Hamstring)
- Out: OL Tommy Kraemer (Back), DL Levi Onwuzurike (Back)
- Placed on IR: OL Andre Dillard (Broken Arm)
The Eagles are much healthier than the Lions heading into Week 1. The Eagles were a full go at practice as of Friday, while the Lions lost veteran offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai to injured reserve. Sunday’s game will be broadcasted on FOX at 1:00 p.m. ET with Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, and Kristina Pink on the call.
[Photo credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports]