Thursday, August 18, 2022

Can A.J. Brown live up to the Terrell Owens-sized expectations in first year with Eagles?

There won’t be any towering goals for A.J. Brown this season, even with the sky-high expectations the Philadelphia Eagles have for a player they gave $100 million to this past April. 

Brown is the most accomplished wide receiver the Eagles have acquired in a trade or free agency since Terrell Owens in 2004 — and Philadelphia saw how dominant the future Hall of Famer was in his first season wearing midnight green. The numbers for Owens are remembered like the stats on the back of a baseball card — 77 catches, 1,200 yards, 14 touchdowns (14 games) — as Owens was crucial toward Philadelphia reaching the Super Bowl that year. 

The Eagles are hoping Brown has the same impact as Owens in Year 1. Brown is taking the team mantra for 2022 to heart, taking things one day at a time. 

“I’m striving to get better each and every day,” Brown said Wednesday. “I’m trying to win every route. And if the ball comes my way, I’m going to try and grab it and do what I do after the catch. 

“I try to keep it day to day. Improve day to day. Go in there and watch film and try to get better what I didn’t do too well on — like today. Learn from it and grow.”

Brown has the talent to match what Owens accomplished in his first year with the Eagles, already establishing himself as one of the best deep-ball threats in the league. He has 24 touchdown catches since the start of 2019, which is tied for eighth in the NFL among wide receivers during that span (DK Metcalf is the only player from his draft class to have more after his first three years). His 185 catches and 2,995 receiving yards were the second most for a player after three seasons in Tennessee Titans franchise history. 

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Brown is averaging 16.19 yards per catch since the start of the 2019 season, trailing only Mike Williams (16.78) for the best mark in the NFL (minimum 150 receptions). He has the most 50-plus yards receptions (10) and 50-yard touchdown catches (seven) over the last three seasons. 

“Obviously, his resume speaks for itself,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “He does a lot of things really well. We’re happy to have him obviously.

“The better your players, the better coach you are, and that’s no secret. Our job is to get the most out of those players as we can and maximize their potential. Just excited to have him. He’ll fit in nicely.”

Like Owens, Brown is already embracing the city of Philadelphia and the raucous fanbase that comes with playing for the Eagles. Owens’ willingness to welcome the Philadelphia fans was a reason his popularity soared throughout his two seasons with the Eagles — even as things went south toward the end. 

The honeymoon phase is still going for Brown. With his personality and ability to make plays, it could last for a long time. 

“I definitely feel the love, ever since I’ve been here the city has been showing me love,” Brown said. “I appreciate it wholeheartedly. Now it’s my job to go do what I do and play some football.

“I don’t play for expectations. I’m hard on myself. I’m grounded, I’m humble. I love this game and I don’t take it for granted.”

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