We all were watching on the first night of the NFL Draft on April 28, when the Titans traded their receiving star A.J. Brown to the Eagles for a first round pick; and quickly was inked to a 100 million dollar contract with the Birds.
That's a lot to handle as a fan and Brown wasn't immediately thrilled at how it all went down. Nothing said the NFL is BIG Business more than this trade; especially when Titans head coach, Mike Vrabel said “A.J. will be a Titan as long as I am the head coach.”
Regardless of how it went down the Birds would not be 8-1 without the services of AJ. Ironically, I am writing this two days after he caught 1 pass for seven yards in a loss to the Commanders on MNF.
Perhaps that is the most alarming stat, 1-7 yards, as to why the Eagles lost their first game.
The reality is A.J. is a true No. 1 wide receiver in every sense.
He has the size you are looking for at over 6-feet tall and a chiseled 230 pounds.
He is very strong and very powerful that shows up in many ways.
His ability to pull the ball away from defenders, i.e. Minkah Fitzpatrick, in the end zone of a three TD first half left Minkah dazed and confused.
He has rare ability to drag defenders after the catch due to his power and to run through would-be tacklers that have led to his gaudy 16.5 yards per catch, second only to Jaylen Waddle's 17.2
The Birds call lots of plays for him leaving him on the single receiver side to work on the corner to that side.
All of the above is important, but nothing really gets done without the trust of the QB, Jalen Hurts. As we have found out since the day of the trade, Jalen and AJ are best friends. So much so that Jalen is the godfather to A.J.'s daughter.
They train together in the off season with one pushing the other whether it’s weight training or running hills early in the morning...some days in the middle of rain storms.
But the ultimate trust is when Jalen will loft a ball deep down the field, sometimes into double coverage with the inherent belief that A.J. will go up and out-compete the defenders for the ball.
It has happened throughout the season and up until the last game against the Commanders they had had tremendous success.
Then with nine minutes to go in the second quarter with the Birds up 14-10, Jalen lofted a deep skinny post to A.J. who was covered by Benjamin St. Juste'. 50 yards later the free safety, Darrick Forrest had drifted over.
A.J. actually had both hands on the ball first as it was a great throw but somehow the ball slipped through A.J.'s hands and into Forrest' for the 3rd INT of the season for Hurts.
If that ball had not been intercepted perhaps the Birds would be 9-0.
They will have many, many opportunities in the second half of the season to connect on all kinds of throws to get this potent offense on track.
The injury to tight end, Dallas Goedert, means others are going to have to pick up the slack. He was the third leading receiver with 43 catches and 3 TD's.
Plus, he was such a threat in the middle of the field and at the LOS in the blocking game.
He will be sorely missed and his production and presence will have to be cobbled together but a group of players. A.J. has been instrumental in blocking for Jalen's runs and for the running game in general.
He is very good at it and makes a difference on the perimeter and down the field and it’s a big reason why the Birds are second only to the Chiefs in scoring TD's 33 for the Chiefs to 31 for the Birds through 10 weeks.
The addition of A.J. to the Birds reminds me of 2004. That's the year that the Birds acquired T.O. and the entire organization changed that magical season. He made
Donovan instantly better as he enjoyed his best season ever.
Andy really changed the offense form a true West Coast offense into a "Bomb's Away' offense.
Owens scored 14 TD'S in 14 games before he broke his ankle, never to appear again until Super Bowl season.
T.O. has his bust in Canton, Ohio so it’s not fair to compare a receiver in only his 4th season to a HOF player.
But he does have his size, speed, hands, and attitude of T.O. Obviously, Jalen has emerged as a true upper echelon starting QB because he has a true No. 1 wide receiver that can beat the best cornerbacks and can find the end zone to finish plays amongst the best in the NFL.
The core of receivers starting with AJ, Smitty, Pascal. and Quez has a lot of size and speed and while we haven't seen many formations with all four on the field, perhaps, with the injury to Goedert we might see more. They will be a challenge for any secondary.
A.J. has been shown to be unstoppable at times and I think as the season moves towards the stretch run his presence is only going to get bigger.
Stars have to step up when the games get bigger and more meaningful and he has played in quite a few playoff games as a Titan. I am looking forward to his talent and size and attitude helping to take over some of the big contests that will be coming up.
I think he along with the offense is up to the challenge.
If he is, perhaps the Eagles will enjoy a magical journey like they did with T.O. back in 2004. Maybe with a different result in the Super Bowl. *