The message from wide receiver A.J. Brown throughout the entire 2022 season has been consistent: This is just another game. One day at a time. Stay consistent. As he prepares to play his former Tennessee Titans team on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Brown is sticking to the message.
"That's my former team. It's another game on the schedule," he said Wednesday with, as expected, a throng of reporters crowding his NovaCare Complex locker. "Of course, I'm excited. Of course, it means a lot, but I've got to be professional about it, keep my emotions down, and just play. Like I said after the game (on Sunday against Green Bay), my job this week is to be as consistent as possible.
"So, regardless of who we're playing, that's my focus."
In the midst of a terrific first season with the Eagles after he was traded from Tennessee to Philadelphia on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft, Brown has had a rough week. A battle with food poisoning over Thanksgiving caused him to lose 7 pounds and burst a vessel in his right eye, leaving it bloodshot. Workouts have been tough, although Brown said he had a good one on Wednesday.
He's battled a sore ankle the last couple of weeks and he has had some great moments and some plays he would like to have back along the way. That's the nature of a long NFL season. What is more important is that Brown has been everything the Eagles hoped he would be - "and then some," said Head Coach Nick Sirianni - with 53 receptions, 831 yards, 7 touchdowns, and a great fit on the field and in the locker room and throughout the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles brought back their entire offense from 2021 and added Brown and you see what they've got: This offense is multidimensional, as explosive, and as tough and physical as any in the league.
Sending first- and third-round draft picks to Tennessee, where Brown became a Pro Bowl player in his three seasons, was worth it for the Eagles. The Titans probably feel the same way. The young receiver they drafted in Round 1, Treylon Burks, is coming on. They dealt the 101st overall pick for extra selections and two of them, cornerback Roger McCreary and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, are starting.
Sometimes, trades are true wins for both teams and that's how this one appears to be working out. Brown is happy. The Eagles are happy. And we've got a great game ahead on Sunday with the 10-1 Eagles playing the 7-4 AFC South-leading Titans.
"Of course, I've come to peace about it," Brown said, referring to the way things went down with Tennessee and the trade. "I'm with the Eagles. We're 10-1. We're doing a really good job here. Of course, early on I had mixed emotions, but I changed my family's life forever (with the new contract he signed with the Eagles). That was the goal. I'm thankful for Tennessee, but I'm here in Philly now.
"I feel like me, personally, I won. I say that because I changed my family's life forever. That's the goal. Especially growing up, from where I'm from. Of course, I want to do great, I want to accomplish great things, but that's the reason we play the game."
Brown says this game is "not personal," and instead, it is another "opportunity to play the game I love." He has been fully focused on the Eagles this season, so there isn't any hidden agenda here. Win No. 11 for No. 11 is all that matters.
"I think the constant reminder is, 'Hey, this game is big to us because it's our next one. It's big to us because we don't want to let each other down.' Just like you can't ride the waves of the season. I don't think you treat it any different," Sirianni said. "He doesn't have to do anything other than to go out there and be himself. He doesn't have to press. He just has to go out there and do his job to the best of his abilities with the attention to detail."
Stay true to your process. That's Sirianni's message, the one fully absorbed by a team that is 10-1 and has an ultimate goal in the regular season: To earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, gain a bye week, and have the conference playoffs come through Lincoln Financial Field. Beating Tennessee and its outstanding defense - tough, physical, sound, one that has allowed 20 or fewer points in eight straight games - is all that matters.
"It's been great. It's been great," Brown said. "We've been doing really good things here and, like I said, we're 10-1 and we're trying to keep it going. It's been going as everything I imagined."