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8 things I think about the Eagles following their loss to the Cardinals

On Jalen Hurts, Carson Wentz, and more.

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Some very important (and unfortunately delayed) thoughts to touch on following the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 15 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

1 - I think that game ended in the perfect result

Second week in a row where watching the Eagles was actually fun! The game was a legitimate thrill.

It was an optimal result, too. Some young players — Jalen Hurts included — shined and the team fought hard but ultimately lost to improve their positioning in the 2021 NFL Draft.

And for those who still want to see the Eagles in the playoffs, well, the defeat didn’t officially eliminate them! It was a loss that was a win-win.

2 - I think the Eagles should move forward with Jalen Hurts

I know, I know. It’s hard to make too much of a 2.5-game sample size. But it’s hard not to be impressed with Hurts thus far. This isn’t to suggest he’s been perfect. There’s certainly reason for encouragement, though.

THE GOOD

  • The offense actually functions with him and doesn't look broken. Kind of important!
  • Calm. Didn’t get rattled and let things spiral out of control after a poor start. Kept fighting.
  • Showed more as a passer in this game after being limited in that regard last week. 24/44 for 338 yards (7.7 yards per attempt), 3 TD, 0 INT, 102.3 passer rating.
  • Really like the touch he’s demonstrated, especially on throws down the field. Stark contrast from the previous starting quarterback. The Eagles were able to gain yardage on chunk plays. They also ran screens effectively for like the first time all year.
  • Mobility is a real weapon. Made a huge fourth down conversion with his legs. Touchdown run to tie the game was awesome with the way he broke a tackle attempt by a Defensive Player of the Year caliber player in Budda Baker. Finished with 11 runs for 63 yards and the one score.
  • Could’ve had the game-winning touchdown pass if Dallas Goedert hadn’t dropped it in the end zone.
  • Seemingly has the “it” factor.

THE BAD

  • Didn’t get out of the pocket and got called for intentional grounding in the Eagles’ own end zone for a safety.
  • Second week in a row where he had a pick dropped, this time by Isaiah Simmons.
  • Too many fumbles. Three in this game, bringing him up to six on the season.
  • Took six sacks after taking zero last week. Two really hurt the Eagles on their penultimate drive, turning 1st-and-10 at the 11-yard line into 3rd-and-21 from the 22-yard line.
  • Unsustainable success on third and fourth down. Must be better on earlier downs.
  • Needs to work the middle of the field more often.

Hurts clearly has room to grow. There’s hope he can do that since he’s a 22-year-old rookie who didn’t have the benefit of a full offseason with an offense built for him to be the starting quarterback. Not to mention the lack of time to build chemistry with his pass-catchers.

I don’t know that Hurts is a Super Bowl winning caliber franchise quarterback. No one does for sure. But that’s OK. The Eagles don’t need to fully be convinced of that to move forward with him as their guy. He’s not eligible for a contract extension until after the 2022 season and he’ll be on a relatively cheap deal until then.

We’ll see how Hurts fares in the final two games. If he looks like a total disaster in those, well, that could change the feeling here. For now, though, I think that Hurts should be the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 2021.

3 - I think it’s time to turn the page on Carson Wentz

Truth be told, I never wanted it to reach the point where I was typing those words. But it’s the reality we’re living in.

The relationship between Wentz and the Eagles appears to be fractured. The Adam Schefter report that emerged on Sunday morning was pretty disappointing to see. It’s one thing for Wentz to not want be a backup quarterback. That’s totally understandable. But it’s another thing for (what was likely) his camp to leak that to the media on game day morning.

Ideally, the Eagles would be able to bring Wentz and Hurts back to compete for the 2021 starting quarterback job. And maybe that’s what will happen. It’s not like the team must give in to Wentz’s demands if he wants to be traded. But it just feels like Wentz’s time here is done.

It can be said that the sample size to judge Hurts hasn’t been big enough. I don’t disagree. But the sample size to judge Wentz certainly has been ample. And it’s hard to ignore how the offense looked broken with him but has been functional with Hurts running the show.

Keeping Wentz around solely because of the team’s large financial commitment is just playing into sunk cost fallacy. He might very well be salvageable but it would be naive to think hiring a new head coach can easily fix him when there have been issues with him being coachable.

What happens if Wentz struggles again after an offseason where everything was geared around him? Firing Doug Pederson was for naught and the team has to turn back to Hurts again? And yet now the Eagles have 2022 money tied to Wentz since they kept him past the third day of the 2021 league year?

The feeling here is that the Eagles need to rip the band-aid off, as Michael Kist put it on BGN’s postgame podcast, and move on. A trade is probably what’s best for both sides at this point. It’s just hard to envision the Eagles turning back for Wentz if Hurts continues to impress.

4 - I think Doug Pederson deserves to stay

If the Eagles want to clean house and get rid of both Howie Roseman and Pederson, fine. That would be understandable. But it sounds like Roseman isn’t even in any jeopardy of losing his job. And if that’s truly the case, Pederson should be safe as well. The idea that he was the problem with the offense wasn’t true and his players are still fighting hard for him. Would be sad to see Pederson get scapegoated.

5 - I think the Eagles need a new special teams coordinator

To his credit, Dave Fipp oversaw some really strong special teams units early in his Eagles tenure. And his job isn’t easy; he’s had to deal with a lot of turnover due to this team’s constant injury issues.

It feels like forever since the third phase has been a legitimate strength for Philly, though, and it was a total weakness on Sunday.

  • Cameron Johnston had a punt blocked. He had another from the Cardinals’ 42-yard line that went out of the back of the end zone for a 22-yard net gain.
  • Rick Lovato had a low snap that ruined an Eagles extra point attempt to give the Eagles a 1-point lead.
  • Boston Scott averaged just 18.8 yards on his five kickoff returns. His 21.3 average this year ranks 12th out of 14 qualified kick returners. Not like he’s getting great blocking.
  • Jake Elliott has struggled this year. Though he went 2/2 on extra points and did a respectable job filling in for Johnston on short notice.

With all due respect to Fipp, it’s time for the Eagles to find a new special teams coordinator.

6 - I think Jim Schwartz’s undermanned defense was respectable

Things could’ve gone worse for an Eagles defense that was playing without 75% of their starting secondary. They allowed 31 offensive points and seven of those came from the blocked punt that gave the Cardinals the ball at Philly’s 6-yard line. Two of Kyler Murray’s touchdown throws featured good coverage by Eagles defenders getting beat by even better catches by DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald, who are future Hall of Famers. The Eagles also came up with three takeaways. Hard to be totally displeased given what Schwartz was working with. The onus was reasonably on the offense winning a shootout in this one.

7 - I think Howie Roseman not trading for DeAndre Hopkins was a mistake

Turns out that having one of the best wide receivers in the league is a good thing.

I’m sure this will be the offseason that Howie finally gets WR right, though!

8 - I think the Eagles may have found something in Michael Jacquet

Maybe he’s just the defensive version of Travis Fulgham’s short-lived success (though I still believe in Fulgham and thinks he deserves more playing time) but it’s hard not to be intrigued by this Jacquet kid.

I remember finding it curious when the 2020 undrafted rookie free agent signing drew some early praise from Doug Pederson in training camp. I didn’t think he had the greatest summer considering I saw him get roasted by fellow UDFA Manasseh Bailey out of Morgan State (Division I FCS).

Also wasn’t sure what to make of Jacquet flashing when he played in relief of an injured Darius Slay back in Week 8. The Eagles were playing a non-NFL quarterback at the time in Ben DiNucci.

After his success against the Cardinals, though, there’s more reason to be intrigued by Jacquet’s potential. The 6-1, 203 corner has long arms (longer wingspan by 4 inches than any defensive back at this year’s NFL Combine) that helped him break up two passes in Arizona. He also did a great job of punching a ball out of Hopkins’ hands to force a fumble. Oh, and he half-sacked Murray on a blitz to set up a strip by Nickell Robey-Coleman.

Jacquet isn’t some lockdown stud; he still allowed a lot of yards in coverage. But he could be a player worth developing. At the very least, he should be starting across from Darius Slay the rest of this season. If he continues to show potential, he should be able to compete for a starting role next year.

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Leftovers

Wrote some thoughts on Fulgham, Alshon Jeffery, Quez Watkins, Alex Singleton, and many others in this week’s snap counts article. In case you’re wondering why they’re not mentioned as much in this post.