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Rejoice! Javon Hargrave, Jalen Hurts, and smart football: These Eagles are for real. | Marcus Hayes

The offensive and defensive lines are better than expected. So are the coaching staff and the quarterback. Philly should enjoy what it's got and expect greatness.

Lane Johnson (left) and Brandon Brooks blocking Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett on Sunday. Their good health is the No. 1 reason fans should believe in the 2021 Eagles.
Lane Johnson (left) and Brandon Brooks blocking Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett on Sunday. Their good health is the No. 1 reason fans should believe in the 2021 Eagles.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Eagles fans, we hear your voices of caution. You wonder if the Falcons were just a horrible team with an aged quarterback and a head coach who, in his first job, has no idea what he’s doing.

It is a completely valid concern, doubly so since those concerned have been teased for decades by Eagles teams that start fast but finish slowly. But consider that owner Jeffrey Lurie has been pretty good at hiring coaches, and general manager Howie Roseman has been pretty good at finding players for his quarterback factory, and that things usually go well at first.

Why not enjoy it? Why not throw that caution to the wind?

Think about it. If the Falcons are a bad team, with an overmatched coach in Arthur Smith, and an over-the-hill quarterback in Matt Ryan, then Sunday’s 32-6 outcome should actually encourage you. That’s because good teams are supposed to blow out bad teams. No matter how you cast the Eagles’ 2021 debut, they emerge a good team.

To what end? Well, any good team can win 10 or 12 games in this diluted, unstable iteration of the NFL. That’s particularly true of any team playing in this NFC East, where the other three teams lost their openers and left the Eagles alone in first place.

» READ MORE: The Eagles can win 12 games. No, seriously. | Marcus Hayes

Does this mean the Birds will wind up in Super Bowl LVI? No, don’t buy your tickets to L.A. just yet. A few minor worries remain.

What about ...

Is there sufficient offensive line depth? Probably. Second-round rookie Landon Dickerson, who fell in the draft due to a knee injury suffered in college last year, fully participated in practice Wednesday and Thursday, replacing starter Brandon Brooks, who rested. There was no firm timetable on Dickerson’s availability, but he has immediately become the Eagles’ top backup.

Can the linebackers actually play? It looks like it, but the 49ers’ run game and tight end attack will be laid bare by Sunday night.

Are these defensive backs really competent? Again, we’ll know more after the Eagles visit the Cowboys on Sept. 27. They’ll face quarterback Dak Prescott and receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb (the third amigo, Michael Gallup, will miss that game with a calf injury, no doubt to the relief of Darius Slay).

Look, every team has worries, and holes, and gaps. After Week 1, the Eagles have a lot more reasons for optimism than pessimism.

Count your blessings

  1. Brooks, the right guard, and right tackle Lane Johnson are healthy and effective. Brooks has been injured for much of the past two seasons, is missing practice time again, which is worrisome, but his limited participation seems more like maintenance and caution than any real problem. Besides, it gets first-team snaps for Dickerson. As for Johnson, he committed three penalties Sunday, but it was his first action in a while, and he’s never been the most efficient lineman. When whole, Brooks and Johnson, plus center Jason Kelce, have anchored the best offensive line in the NFL for the past five years.

  2. Fletcher Cox finally has help. The Eagles have been trying to give Cox someone with whom to share the load at defensive tackle ever since they drafted him with the 12th over pick in 2012. Javon Hargrave, in his second season as an Eagle, appears to be the answer they’ve long searched for. He delivered an outstanding training camp and then collected two sacks Sunday in Atlanta.

» READ MORE: Eagles film: Javon Hargrave signing paying off in Year 2

  1. Jalen Hurts is the real deal. It’s baffling why more fans aren’t utterly giddy over Hurts. He threw for more than 300 yards in two of his five career starts, against Arizona and Dallas. He won two others, against New Orleans in his starting debut, and Sunday against Atlanta. In the fifth, last year’s finale against Washington, he was benched in the fourth quarter, for no good reason, after running for two TDs. Hurts also is as smart as we thought he was. On Sunday, he threw no interceptable passes, and the Eagles committed zero turnovers, which is the most important element of any win. He has shown more and more promise in every game he has started. Come on, folks.

» READ MORE: The Eagles’ big zero: No turnovers against the Falcons made the difference in Week 1 | Marcus Hayes

  1. Free-agent cornerback Steven Nelson played a solid game. His performance allowed Slay, the 2020 marquee signing, to simply do his job on the other side, and minimized the importance of overrated nickel corner Avonte Maddox. Nelson’s performance also relieved pressure from free-agent safety Anthony Harris and safety Marcus Epps, and, later in the game, from K’Von Wallace, the second-year man who replaced Epps when Epps left with a concussion in the first quarter Sunday. The importance of Nelson’s presence will only increase as the Eagles await the return of veteran safety Rodney McLeod, who still is nursing the knee injury he suffered in 2020.

  2. Jordan Mailata was not a disaster. Despite the popularity of the Aussie giant, crashing and burning always was a possibility. After all, Mailata, 24, is a converted rugby player who’d started just 10 football games in his entire life before Sunday. The Eagles stunned the football world Saturday when they gave him a four-year, $64 million extension. He earned it. If you factor in Johnson’s penalties, Kelce’s snapping issues, and Brooks’ tentativeness, Mailata was the Birds’ best lineman Sunday.

  3. Head coach Nick Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon did not ask their players to perform beyond their abilities. These were the greatest sins of former coach/offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. These remain the biggest worries as this new Eagles coaching staff and their players pursue their bona fides.