Eagles dominate Commanders, show they are the class of NFC thanks to high-powered offense

LANDOVER, Md. — Entering the 2022 season, the Philadelphia Eagles were the favorite to win the NFC East.

Nobody who watched their first three games would dispute those prognostications.

The question now is: after a 3-0 start, how high is this team's ceiling?

The Eagles dominated the Washington Commanders 24-8 on Sunday, turning FedEx Field into "The Linc" South – the lower bowl almost exclusively filled by Philadelphia green and black.

“All it means is it’s a good start," head coach Nick Sirianni said. "Our message is the same every week. ‘Go back to work.’ Enjoy this tonight … we compare (the season) to a 17-round heavyweight boxing match.”

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A dominant second quarter, in which they scored all 24 points, allowed the Eagles to play the second half on cruise control. At halftime, they had 322 total yards compared to the Commanders' 50. They have shown few weaknesses.

Here are three reasons why the Eagles are currently the class of their conference.

(Jalen) Hurts so good

Quarterback Jalen Hurts (22-for-35, 340 yards, three touchdowns) had another prolific game. The offensive line helped the second-year starter feel the pocket without much pressure, and Hurts – who led the league in total yards entering Sunday – began picking apart the Washington defense for chunk plays in the second quarter.

Hurts didn't do much with his legs Sunday (nine carries, 20 yards). The threat of him taking off makes any play a run-pass option, Commanders coach Ron Rivera said earlier in the week. While the Commanders contained the Philadelphia rushing attack, they had no answer for Hurts' arm.

Hurts found receiver Devonta Smith for a 45-yard gain -- the first highlight-reel play from the Alabama Crimson Tide duo Sunday -- on the right sideline for the first chunk play of the game in the second. But Smith never touched a second foot down in-bounds; Hurts rushed his unit to the line and snapped the ball before Rivera could throw the challenge flag.

Hurts and Smith connected for a 44-yard gain later in the quarter on a deep ball that left the Eagles on the doorstep in the final the final moments of the first half, with the Eagles leading by 17. They had no timeouts left. Hurts wanted to score before the half, he said, and fourth down arrived. He called a play that wasn't in the game plan this week but was something the Eagles consistently work on in practice. Hurts threw it up to Smith, who elevated once again and came down with the score.

"The trust Jalen has in our receivers," Smith said, "it's our ball."

Sirianni acknowledged the Eagles put their faith in him Sunday. It worked.

"He played his butt off again, right?" Sirianni said.

Hurts displayed touch on those deep balls to Smith, and Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen are giving him all of the tools to make the right reads. Of course, Hurts could not have this type of success without weapons. And he has two of the best in the NFL right now at wide receiver.

Beast WR duo

The emergence of Smith, a second-year wideout and Heisman Trophy winner would be a boon for any offense. Trade for and extend another dynamic receiver, A.J. Brown, and the Eagles had all the makings of an elite duo at wideout.

Smith (eight catches, 169 yards) was arguably the best player on the field Sunday, making at least three catches with a high degree of difficulty. His third, a 2-yard touchdown, put an exclamation point on the first half as time expired.

"He was having his way," Brown said. "He's doing whatever he wants to do.

"It gives you so much momentum as an offense. You go up and make a big catch like that, it gives everybody momentum and energy."

Brown had a touchdown and 85 yards on five catches. His score came on a play Hurts adjusted at the line of scrimmage, and Brown used his physicality to win separation and then power over the goal line.

Brown immediately made his presence in Philadelphia known with a dominant Week 1 (10 catches, 155 yards). Smith didn't have any catches that day but has made up with it the last two weeks.

Defensive pass rush

Eagles center Jason Kelce held up a piece of memorabilia he obtained after the game: a No. 11 Commanders jersey, which belonged to quarterback Carson Wentz, a former teammate of his.

The jersey had patches of green all over. Wentz's old team showed no favors toward him Sunday.

"We were out there having fun," defensive end Brandon Graham said.

The Eagles sacked him nine times – with six of those coming in the first half. Wentz had 24 passing yards through 30 minutes. The lone score for the Commanders' offense came with 1:55 left and the outcome long decided.

The Lions hung 35 points on them during Week 1, but the Philadelphia defense has bounced back with stout performances against the Minnesota Vikings and Commanders in back-to-back weeks.

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eagles are 3-0 after dominating Commanders. How high is ceiling?