Hurts wasn’t the biggest problem for the Eagles offense for the second consecutive week, and for as long as that streak keeps up, he’ll stay in this column.
The passing game remains oriented on outside-the-numbers throws against man coverage, as the Eagles’ coaching staff doesn’t seem comfortable giving Hurts the same full-field reads that they gave Wentz for the majority of this season. The wisdom of that approach — both for Wentz and for Hurts — is up for debate, but it does leave the Eagles’ passing game a little limited overall.
Their running game remains diverse, even as Hurts scrambled less and probably gave the ball up on read options a few more times than he needed to. Hurts took more sacks but also pushed the ball downfield more, which is the necessary exchange for holding the football in the pocket. The Eagles still need more from Hurts as a true passer to feel confident in him as a clear starter entering 2021, but he’s clearly earned at least a shot at that job in camp, regardless of who the Eagles do or don’t keep at quarterback this offseason.
Geriatric Receiving Options
After years upon years of 7 catches/7 targets/54 yards performances, Zach Ertz churned out an absolute banger of a day: 2 catches, 69 yards (nice), and yep — 7 targets. It was almost as odd to see Ertz used as a downfield pass-catcher as it was to see Alshon Jeffery breaking off routes with his characteristic OPI. Jeffery was more valuable as a DPI drawer than he was as a pass-catcher, but again, the Eagles found downfield looks with 2 catches for 63 yards fro Alshon.
Neither Jeffery or Ertz is likely in the Eagles’ major plans for 2021, with Ertz potentially hanging around — but probably not, given cap considerations. But still, it was nice to see that both still have actual downfield ability when the offense looks different under Jalen Hurts.
Michael Jacquet II
Today on Eagle You’ve Never Heard Of Because The Entire Team Is Hurt: UDFA Louisiana-Lafayette CB Michael Jacquet II, who floated around camp and the practice squad all season before taking the starting job today. Jacquet got done up by DeAndre Hopkins on more than one occasion, but such would have been the fate of pretty much any Eagle corner against a receiver of Hopkins’ caliber. But he also was the primary generator of the two forced fumbles that kept the Eagles in the game, and for that, he gets my unwavering support for the next seven days at least.
A hundred cheers for my man Jeff Stoutland — hurrah hurrah! — for continuing to put out a passable performance with limited offensive lines. The Eagles had perhaps one, maybe two starting-caliber players in Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo/Jordan Mailata against the Cardinals, and while they gave up six sacks, a lot of that goes on the quarterback — Hurts wasn’t a great pocket manager on Sunday. Throw in another effective day running the football, and it’s a deserved feather in Stout’s cap.
4 catches for 15 yards and 2 touchdowns isn’t a typical statline, but Ward’s separation ability against man coverage was huge for the Eagles in the red zone. I remain skeptical of Ward’s long-term viability as a starting slot, let alone as a punt returner — but he’s clearly become a go-to target for Hurts in scoring territory, as he’s the recipient of three of Hurts’ five touchdown passes through 2.5 games. Big deal for him, and for QB-QB connections everywhere.
An explosive play! Yay!
There’s a ton to unpack in the most recent Wentz rumors and drama, which we won’t really get into here. If you feel betrayed by the organization for how they built around you and managed you, that’s fine. But the dude they spent the second-round pick on just put out a fairly solid performance in your stead, so there’s something here that’s on you too, bub.
Your punter getting concussed absolutely sucks, and there’s only so much you can do about that. But you can also not give up a blocked punt and a fake punt conversion in a must-win playoff game in which both your offense and defense have finally stepped up. With average special teams play — and that includes a semi-decent returner — the Eagles would have had a much bigger window to win this game.
It wasn’t a terrible performance from Reagor, who showed some chops on outside vertical routes and had a good run with the ball in his hands. But with every week that passes, Reagor’s continued little mistakes — like looking for an open nine route way too early — pile up into a season that details just how far he has to go to unlock his full game. Reagor is far from a bust, and with a stable offense and good coaching, is likely to be a solid pro — but that process takes patience and attention, and can go wrong at several turns. He’s a project player at this time.
BECAUSE JOSH SWEAT IS HURT
Two games in, and I’m still unconvinced that Hurts is the long-term starter. And that’s okay — I don’t imagine I will be by the end of the season. The Eagles have a very difficult offseason ahead with their QB decisions, and any good Hurts play gives them an encouraging floor. But we should do our best to keep Hurts hype under control, despite how...well, how freaking exciting he is on any given play.