The Philadelphia Eagles are flying high right now. The defending NFC Champions look primed to make another lengthy run once the postseason runs around, as Philly currently holds the best record in the NFL. The team is 8-1 on the year, and last week, the Birds came out on top in a thrilling game against the Dallas Cowboys, once again making clear that the NFC East — and, in all likelihood, the NFC as a whole — runs through the City of Brotherly Love.
DeVonta Smith found the end zone once against Dallas, which marked the fourth time this season he’s caught a touchdown. On the year, Smith has hauled in 42 balls for 533 yards, and has served as one half of an absolutely devastating duo at receiver alongside A.J. Brown. Those two, mixed with Jalen Hurts under center, have given the Eagles one of the league’s most dangerous passing offenses, and if they are able to get over the hump in February and lift the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since 2018, it stands to reason that the former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Alabama will play a major role.
On the heels of Sunday’s win, Uproxx Sports caught up with Smith via his partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods and its apparel brand VRST to discuss beating Dallas, why he and Brown work so well together, the unsung heroes on the Eagles, and much more.
What do you have going on with VRST?
Yeah, been working with VRST since I came out of college, and it’s been amazing. Comfortable, comfortable clothing, no matter what you want to do with it — if you’re working out, you’re going to a business meeting, they have everything that you need, a lot of versatility in the clothing. And that’s what I’m looking for, anything where I can stick to one thing and have everything that I need.
I know when I go to Dick’s, I’m looking for a pair of sweatpants, a jersey, maybe a pair of Nikes. You ever think you’d be turning to Dick’s for fashionable stuff?
Never would have thought! Look at it, man, it worked out perfectly.
You guys just beat the Cowboys. What’s the vibe around around the office over the last day or two?
It’s been great, man. Winning a division game, right before the bye week. You go into the bye week with a good feeling, man. Ain’t no telling how you’ll be feeling had you lost a game going into the bye week.
It was interesting because wasn’t your most explosive game as an offense, but you guys got the job done. What is it about the dudes that you have on your offense that make it so, even on an off day against a great defense where everyone’s a little bit more amped up because it’s such a big game, you guys are able to go out and get the job done?
I would just say it has to come down to the mindset everybody has. Good day, bad day, you have to grind it out, man. Every game is not going to be a great game — that’s part of the game, having ups and downs, but it’s all about how you respond to it. And I think we responded well, going out there and doing the things that we needed to do, and just staying locked in and our situational awareness, things like that. Everybody being on the same page.
You hear a lot of players, a lot of coaches, teams, they try not to get too caught up in a single game. But in the Cowboys, it’s always a battle for the division, always a battle for the conference. Do you feel like you have to bring that a little something extra? Do you celebrate the wins a little harder? Or do you really have to treat this as one of 17?
It’s just one of 17, man. Honestly, the rivalry is kind of like, for the fans, we know how much it means to them. Not gonna just brush it off, it means a lot to us, too. Not just because it’s Dallas, but because it’s the next game, it’s a divisional game with a divisional opponent. So, just going out there and knowing that we win this game, it’s only going to put us a step closer to where we want to be.
I got to ask about the celebration with A.J., how long have you guys had that one planned? And did you see LeBron gave you a little bit of love for it?
Yeah, I saw LeBron give us some love. We actually thought about it earlier in the week, never practiced it, just went out there and did it.
I want to ask about A.J. specifically, because like that dude is outrageous. We see what he does every single Sunday, but what do you see every single day that explains why he is so great?
Every catch that you see him make in a game, he’s probably made it that week during practice. There’s never a day that goes by that he doesn’t have some crazy, one-handed catch. So, when he goes out there and does it in a game, it’s just like, we’ve seen this a couple days ago. So, we expect it at this point.
When I watch, it’s obvious that you two are such a great complement for one another. Why do you think you two complement each other so well?
I would say because, one, we feed off each other’s energy, and then also, we’re both learning from each other. We’re two different types of receivers, him with the late hands, playing through the contact, things like that that I try to implement in my game. And with me it’s being more finesse, at the line, releasing and things like that that he tries to get from me. I think that’s what makes us so dynamic is that we learn from each other, we’re happy for each other, and we always want to go out there and never let one guy be out there doing it by himself.
I think anyone who watched you in college should have known you were going to be a great pro. But obviously, there’s always learning, always growing. What’s the biggest difference between senior year Devonta Smith at Alabama and the guy you are now?
I would say with the NFL just being so much slower than college, calling in every play and things like that, it gives you a lot more time to think and actually see the big picture of what’s going on in the game. College is kind of on the fly — you’re looking at the sideline, looking at a board, trying to go fast and things like that. In the NFL, it’s like, okay, you come to the huddle, you gotta think, hear the play, you got time to see everything, it’s not moving as fast as college.
How important is having that? You’re not coming right up to the line of scrimmage, it’s not the check with me, it’s not looking at the boards. Just getting like that 10-15 seconds to kind of just digest the last play and think about the next one?
It’s great. Honestly, not just for the mental side of the game, but physical. You get a chance to catch your breath. Those 10-15 seconds to catch a breath make a big difference.
The thing that stuck out from those Bama days to now is how effortless you make the little things look, how you win at the line of scrimmage, how you run really crisp routes, you’re always making sure you secure the ball, that stuff. I know that making it look effortless is never that easy, so how much work goes into making sure you are able to get down all of those little details about playing wide receiver?
A lot goes into it, man. It starts in the film room, knowing your opponent, knowing how they play, especially the guy in front of you, knowing what kind of corner he is, how he likes to press and things like that. So, that’s the first step, and then when you go out there and play the game, it’s just like, you’ve been doing that all your life. Go out there continue doing the things that you do. You just have to know the little things, like what this person is trying to do.
Have you always been the kind of guy who wants to sit down and watch film every single day, or is that something that as you’ve gotten older, as you got into college, as you got into the NFL, it’s become more of an emphasis for you?
I would say when I got to college. In high school, it was just kind of going out there just playing. High school, you ain’t see many guys who wanna go out there and press like that. You may come across a guy every now and then, but you ain’t really run into many guys like that who wanna sit there and press. So high school, it was kind of easy just going out there just playing, but college was when I really dove into seeing how guys actually play.
I’m sure Coach Saban probably hammered that into you pretty quickly.
One thing that sticks out to me about the Eagles is that so many dudes get attention for one reason or another — whether it’s Jalen, you, A.J., the offensive line, list them off on defense. Who is, or who are, the dudes who you think fans, media, etc., don’t talk about enough, and what do we not see about them?
I’ll probably say guys like Jack Stoll and Grant [Calcaterra], those guys because they take the hits off Dallas. They come in, they do the dirty work, Nick calls them hockey something, something to do with hockey guys or something like that. They come in and do all the dirty work for Dallas, and then Dallas goes out there and catches all the past. So, I would say those guys, those are probably the two guys on offense that doesn’t get the recognition they deserve. But definitely, behind the scenes, they’re doing a lot of the dirty work making sure that this offense gets where it’s supposed to go.
I watched that video of you when you were mic’d up from the Commander game, and it was you, Jalen, Hasson, and coach Sirianni. You kept talking about belief and believing in each other. Why is hammering that home to everyone on the team such a priority from you guys when we see greatness from your team on a weekly basis?
Just telling somebody that you believe in them gives them a confidence boost. And that’s what having confidence is, you believe in yourself and someone else believing in you. So, you just get it into somebody’s brain, like, “Oh, man, I believe in you, I believe in you,” they’re gonna get so much more confident.
My last question here, you’re the last non-quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. There’s a chance that changes this year because of a guy who plays wide receiver from Philly. Have you gotten the chance to check out Marvin Harrison Jr. at all? You got a chance to speak to him? And if you have, what sticks out about him as someone who knows great wide receiver play?
Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple times. I would just say, his love for the game, going out there, and like we were just talking about, believing yourself, the confidence you need to have. He truly goes out there and feels like there’s no one that can stop him. And I think that’s happened, him going out there doing that. And then he’s an amazing talent. He’s a big guy, he’s fast, can do everything. I think that’s what separates him a lot, the size that he has, just been a guy that can physically beat you and can beat you finesse-wise, too.