A.J. Brown's 'whoopin' vs. Titans isn't possible without Eagles' trust DeVonta Smith

PHILADELPHIA − Sure, this latest Eagles' offensive masterpiece could easily be seen as A.J. Brown burning his former team with two long touchdowns, then admitting afterward, "Of course, I wanted to make them regret the decision (to trade him)."

It makes for a good storyline. And it shows how much Brown has helped the Eagles' passing game, and how he has lived up to all of the expectations ever since the Eagles acquired him on draft night from the Tennessee Titans.

So yes, Brown was entitled to gloat a bit after he had 119 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 35-10 win over the Tennessee Titans.

And he did.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown scores a touchdown in front of Tennessee Titans' Kristian Fulton during Sunday's game.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown scores a touchdown in front of Tennessee Titans' Kristian Fulton during Sunday's game.

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"To be honest, it’s been personal since the trade," Brown said. "I’ve just been trying to keep it down. (Tennessee) is where I wanted to be ... Things didn’t work out. It was kind of just, 'Here you go, we don’t want you anymore.'

"You just kind of get pushed to the side. In that situation for me, I just had to grow up, and quick."

But look past that.

The Eagles can beat a team so many different ways that it's almost like a whack-a-mole philosophy. Load up to stop the Eagles' running attack, and quarterback Jalen Hurts will burn then with his passing.

Hurts did that Sunday, completing 29 of 39 passes for 380 yards. The only reason why Hurts didn't break his personal high of 387 yards passing in a game was because he sat for most of the fourth quarter.

This came one week after the Eagles scored 40 points on the Green Bay Packers by running for 363 yards, the most in a game by the Eagles since 1948. Hurts had 157 yards rushing in that game and Miles Sanders had 143 yards.

But there's more to the passing game than Brown, just like there's more to the running game than Sanders.

This isn't a secret, either. After all, DeVonta Smith was a first-round pick last year, and set a franchise record for receiving yards by a rookie with 916.

It might seem that Smith isn't having the same kind of production this season, but that is misguided, as Smith showed on the Eagles' first possession.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a touchdown during Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith scores a touchdown during Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

It wasn't even his 34-yard touchdown catch to cap that drive that impressed Eagles coach Nick Sirianni the most. Rather, it was a 3rd-and-8 from the Eagles' 27 on the third play of the game. To that point, the Eagles had already committed two false start penalties and burned a timeout.

"Someone will send me (the clip) this week, zeroed in on that, and someone will be writing an article about that because it was beautiful," Sirianni said.

Smith, lined up in the slot on the right, started cutting across the middle, then spun back to the right and caught Hurts' pass near the sideline, leaving his defender well behind him. The play went for 20 yards and a first down.

Then on the touchdown catch, he easily beat his man to the middle of the field and scored.

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"This guy is a phenomenal route runner," Sirianni said. "The thing he did on that (third-down) route shows you just what (he's about) ... It was beautiful. He came across and came back out, and he's clean out of the break.

"(There's) the yards after catch. He does everything well."

Or as Hurts described the play: "He ran a great route and he got open. He’s elite."

So is Brown, of course.

Smith had 102 yards receiving on 5 catches. It was his most receiving yards since Week 3 when he had a career-high 169 against the Washington Commanders.

Brown and Smith became the first pair of Eagles receivers to each surpass 100 yards in a game since Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz did it on Dec. 23, 2018 against Houston.

But it's not like Smith has been in a slump since that Washington game. He leads the Eagles in receptions with 61. He's second to Brown in receiving yards with 711. He's on pace for 1,007 yards. Brown has 950 yards, just 50 yards shy of his third 1,000-yard season in four years.

So when the Titans focused on stopping Brown early in the game, Hurts went to Smith. Then when the Titans adjusted, Hurts went to Brown, first on a 40-yard touchdown pass, then on a 29-yarder when Brown reached up and literally took the ball off of Tre Avery's back.

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He celebrated both touchdowns by whipping his towel against the stanchion in the back of the end zone, then hugging it.

"(It's like telling the Titans) I’m going to have to give you this whoopin, but I still love you," Brown said with a laugh. "That’s why the hug came in at the end."

Smith, meanwhile, just played.

"Anybody in the receiving room, we feel like can be the No. 1 receiver," Smith said. "Everybody just goes out there and does their job. And when the play comes to you, make the most of the opportunity."

This is what the Eagles have done all season.

"It’s not about A.J.," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "A.J. had a good game. We can’t give up big plays on defense. We tried to make them earn it coming into the game, and clearly we weren’t able to."

So Brown feasted on his former teammates and got all the attention. He was asked if this was the kind of game he envisioned against the Titans.

"Nah, it’s not the game I envisioned," he said.

What did he envision?

"An even bigger day," he replied.

He didn't need one. Not with Smith getting open all over the field. Not with Hurts showing once again why he's an MVP candidate − whether it's by run or by pass.

"Teams can’t just single us out to be one-dimensional team," Smith said. "We can do either-or. So whatever’s working that day, that’s what we’re going to do."

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: A.J. Brown's revenge vs. Titans due to Eagles' trust in DeVonta Smith