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3 Philadelphia Eagles players who need to step up in Week 2 vs. Vikings

Eagles, Jordan Davis, Devonta Smith

The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a 1-0 start to the season in which they picked up a 38-35 victory over the Detroit Lions. The offense was especially impressive as the team scored the second-most points across the NFL. However, they have a tougher challenge in Week 2. The Eagles will be facing off with the Minnesota Vikings in a Monday Night matchup as they come off of an impressive opening week victory over the Packers.

With an improved performance still needed to secure a win in this one, here are three Eagles who must step up in order for the team to have success.

3. DeVonta Smith

This is less about DeVonta Smith and more about the game plan to get him involved, but allowing him to make a greater impact on the game should be a priority for the Eagles. AJ Brown opening a ton of eyes in his Eagles debut. He set the franchise record for most yards in their first game by tallying ten receptions for 155 yards. While this was great, it left DeVonta Smith almost entirely out of the picture.

Despite having four targets, Smith was held without a catch for the first time in his NFL career. The Alabama product is coming off a rookie year in which he had 916 yards receiving and looked to have terrific chemistry with Jalen Hurts. He is a terrific route runner and the increased attention that Brown draws should open things up for him. While Brown is an impressive talent worthy of the number of targets he receives, the Eagles must find a way to get Smith involved as well. Look for Jalen Hurts to target his former college teammate more often in Week 2 and for DeVonta Smith to make his presence felt.

2. Jordan Davis

There is a massive amount of buzz surrounding the Eagles’ first-round pick this year. Jordan Davis has a monstrous 6’6″ and 335-pound frame which is incredibly effective in the running game. In the 22 snaps where he was on the field in Week 1, the Eagles allowed just 2.9 yards per carry versus 10.0 yards per rush attempt when he was off the field. His presence in the middle of the defensive line was clearly felt and Philly must capitalize on his talents. While this does not solely come down to Davis, the rookie looked sharp in his first NFL action.

This also has more to do with the game plan than the production of Jordan Davis, but is essential to the team’s success. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has drawn a massive amount of criticism for his personnel decisions in Week 1 and will be watched closely against the Vikings. He has acknowledged there are improvements he needs to make and getting the team’s best run stopper on the field should be an adjustment against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings. The team’s inability to stop the run played a major role in the Lions’ ability to stay in the game in Week 1 and this will continue to haunt the Eagles if changes are not made.

1. Fletcher Cox

The player who was given the majority of the defensive tackle snaps was Fletcher Cox. There should be no question about the production and ability of the veteran. The six-time Pro Bowl talent has 58.5 career sacks during his eleven years with the Eagles. In Week 1 he had just two tackles and 0.5 sacks. The 31-year-old has shown some signs of slowing down but the $14 million he is due this season is an indication of the Eagles’ commitment to him.

With Jonathan Gannon expected to maintain his commitment to the veteran, it is on Cox to show improvement. The Eagles allowed 181 total rushing yards in Week 1 including 144 yards to D’Andre Swift. They will be tasked with an even more difficult matchup on the ground this week in Dalvin Cook. The three-time Pro Bowl running back tallied 90 rushing yards in the Vikings’ opening matchup and will be itching for the opportunity to face off with the porous Philadelphia defense.

The Eagles and Vikings matchup will be greatly dependent on the battle of the trenches. If Fletcher Cox and the rest of the defensive unit can step it up and limit the Vikings’ rushing attack, it will increase their chances greatly. If this does not occur it will be a long night in front of the home crowd.

This Monday night matchup is set to be a statement win for whichever team comes out on top. Both the Eagles and Vikings have postseason aspirations and will look to show it in the primetime matchup. Philadelphia will need impact performances from these three players if they are to pick up the win.