Expectations were Heightened after Week 1, but Growing Pains were Expected

The schedule gets more challenging over the next month, so how quickly Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts can grow together and how they respond to injury will be important
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PHILADELPHIA – It was easy to forget in the glow of a season-opening blowout win that there were going to be growing pains from an Eagles team led by rookie head coach Nick Sirianni and quarterback in Jalen Hurts who made just his sixth NFL start on Sunday.

Let the 17-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers serve as a reminder.

Sirianni’s play-calling wasn’t perfect, some of his play designs curious, but that was to be expected from the January day he was the surprise pick to lead them.

Hurts seemed to want to force things to DeVonta Smith, who had a team-high seven targets but just two catches for a meager 16 yards, and there were zero targets for tight end Dallas Goedert until the fourth quarter.

There were just a combined four targets all day for tight ends Zach Ertz and Goedert.

That could have been a game-planning thing out of respect for the Niners’ linebackers, particularly Fred Warner, and part of the game plan.

Still, Hurts occasionally locked in too long on his primary target and at times seemed to hold the ball too long.

Again, growing pains.

When asked all offseason how I thought the Eagles would do, my answer was always the expectation should be they are playing better in November and December than September and October.

That hasn’t changed and was a reason my final prediction for their record was 9-8.

Nothing has altered that thinking.

A .500 record is the calling card of a team trying to find an identity while attempting to grow with the hope that, in Year Two, growth and development will occur from the coach, quarterback, and other parts of this team and the boulder is ready to be given a genuine push up the playoff hill.

Now, there is some serious adversity, with the season-ending injury to defensive end Brandon Graham. 

Brandon Brooks' season hinges on a Monday MRI that will determine if the right guard simply strained a pectoral muscle or tore it early in the second quarter.

Let’s see how the young head coach and his young staff adjust to this latest injury adversity, though GM Howie Roseman could get involved here and seek a temporary outside fix.

Other than that, where do the Eagles stand, outside their 1-1 record, which is the same as two other NFC East teams not named the New York Giants, who are 0-2?

It’s difficult to find many wins over the next month, starting with a road trip to Dallas on Monday night.

And after that, it’s Chiefs at home, a road trip to play the 2-0 Panthers, a visit from the Buccaneers on Thursday night, then, 10 days later, a visit to Las Vegas to meet the 2-0 Raiders.

There were some encouraging signs against the Niners, especially from the defense, which has only allowed 23 points in the first two games and should get help from the return of safety Rodney McLeod, perhaps on Monday night, which will help somewhat offset the loss of Graham.

Still, plenty of growing pains await.

How quickly this team and its head coach grow will determine what their record will look like as they prepare for November and December and a heavy dose of divisional opponents.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.