The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, 30 to 16. With BGN’s Benajmin Solak writing a longer article on the Eagles’ quarterback situation, I’m taking over W-L-IDK duty again this week. Here we go.
The rookie quarterback gave the Eagles a spark in his first extended NFL action.
Was he perfect? No, far from it. Hurts finished the game with a 41.7% completion rate and a 67.7 passer rating. But I think he played a little better than his traditional stats suggest. On that note, Pro Football Focus graded him as their eighth best quarterback from Week 13 and the Eagles’ second best offensive player. Carson Wentz ranked 23rd out of 25 and 14th out of 19, respectively.
The offense was moving the ball more effectively with Hurts at the helm. The Eagles ran 24 plays when Hurts was in the game for 131 yards (5.5 average) and six points (missed PAT kick). The Eagles ran 36 plays when Wentz was in for 127 yards (3.5 average) and three points.
‘But the Packers were in prevent defense! And they didn’t specifically game plan for Hurts!’
Okay, sure. But Hurts also didn’t get the benefit of preparing for this game as a starter. Regardless of the context, the accurate throws to Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward were pretty nice. Other passes lacked ideal zip, which is an issue to watch moving forward. Hurts’ mobility was also refreshing to see since it allowed him to get away from pressure instead of being a statue in the pocket.
It’s obviously way too early to know what to make of Hurts as a long-term option. But he did some encouraging things on Sunday and there’s no question the Eagles should let him play the rest of the season. This team needs to evaluate what they have in their 2020 second-round pick and Wentz clearly isn’t getting any better this year.
THE EAGLES’ WATCHABILITY
I tweeted this at halftime on Sunday evening:
Feels like there's really no point of watching these Eagles games.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 6, 2020
There’s no entertainment value. Nothing new or exciting.
Just pretty awful in the same way every week.
Every reason to be apathetic.
If Hurts stays in, there’s suddenly intrigue with the Eagles again.
That brief stretch where he led the Eagles to a touchdown and Reagor returned a punt for a touchdown was probably the most exciting moment of the season. It felt like the Eagles were actually going to make an unlikely comeback.
Alas, they did not. But it was actually fun! Even if it was short-lived.
It’ll be very interesting to see how Hurts performs down the stretch. Of course, that excitement will fade if he really struggles.
Not great that he played a part in ruining a play by running into Boston Scott in the backfield! Second week in a row where the rookie has been out of place. Putting that aside, though, quality catch down the field on his only target of the day. Punt return was obviously big, too!
Jalen Reagor punt return touchdowns this year: 1
Justin Jefferson punt return touchdowns this year: 0
Boom. Eagles made the right pick.
Seriously, though, nice to see some positive signs from the 2020 first-round pick. Interested to see if Hurts and Reagor can get a connection going.
Mailata has graded out well by PFF’s standards the past two weeks. That’s nice! Glad that he’s not stuck on the bench anymore.
The Eagles will be picking no lower than No. 6 overall if they lose out. They can pick as high as No. 3 overall if they get some help! You should be rooting for the Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Dallas Cowboys (necessary evil) to win some games.
They dropped to 3-8-1 with the loss. They’re probably going to fail to win what might be the worst division in NFL history.
I really wish Wentz’s career could’ve played out better for him than the way it has to this point. I wish he never got hurt in 2017. I wish he led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win. I wish he continued to play like an MVP caliber, elite-level quarterback. I wish he was making fans of other NFL teams jealous the way that Patrick Mahomes does.
Sadly, that’s just not the reality we’re living in.
Wentz has arguably been the NFL’s worst starting quarterback this year. He just looks ... broken.
.@Eagles even on the biggest #Birds play of the day; the play belongs on the blooper reel. This should have been a 90 yard TD pass to @goedert33 ; but settle for a 41 yard gain. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/bGMVIS2HeR— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 7, 2020
@Eagles struggle the way all bad teams do. They simply don't execute in any phase of the game. Here is some of those issues which prompted a QB change. It's obvious it's not all on the QB, but it starts with the QB. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/uozkzO8mEe— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 7, 2020
You can hope that it’s fixable. But what if it just isn’t?
And is Wentz even ever going to get the chance to play again in Philly?
There’s a decent chance the answer to that question is ‘Yes’ since the Eagles are so financially committed to him. But it’s not impossible that the team could trade him this offseason. That option doesn’t seem likely, to be clear. I don’t think the organization is ready to give up on their $128 million quarterback just yet.
In the short-term, there isn’t much to gain from playing Wentz the rest of this season. And if Hurts plays well down the stretch, his long-term outlook in Philly becomes less certain.
That report from Sunday morning about how Doug Pederson is “on the hot seat with his future in doubt” was infuriating to read because it notably made no mention of Roseman. Even though most Eagles observers seem to recognize Roseman is hugely responsible for the team’s failures, his seat doesn’t appear to be as warm as it should be. It’s crazy.
If you’re Jeffrey Lurie, how do you look at Justin Jefferson potentially having the best rookie wide receiver season in NFL history and think firing Doug magically fixes everything? Which stars are the Eagles going to miss out on next with Roseman being kept around? Which draft picks — likes the ones used on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Genard Avery, who were healthy scratches in Green Bay — are going to be totally wasted next?
The offense still ain’t looking great. Though it did look better (a relative term) with Hurts. If Hurts can play well down the stretch, is that enough to prevent Pederson from being a scapegoat? Perhaps. As things are trending right now, though, it’s not looking good for Doug. Which is a shame.
Just not a starting NFL cornerback on the outside. Got beat all game long.
Look, Davante Adams and D.K. Metcalf are really, really freaking good. But the Eagles traded two draft picks and made Slay the NFL’s highest paid cornerback at the time of his extension to limit those star receivers more than he was able to.
After Metcalf went off for 10/170 in Week 12, Adams logged 12/121 and two touchdowns on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting Slay, according to PFF.
Slay admitted he hasn’t been good enough in a now-deleted tweet:
In fairness to Slay, he entered Sunday’s game with a calf injury. And he hasn’t been a problem for most of the season. I’m not trying to come off as anti-Slay here.
My beef, rather, is with the Eagles’ decision to acquire him. Wrote this about the Slay trade back in March:
I have mixed feelings on the Slay trade. On one hand, I’ve always liked the player from afar. I can envision him making some big plays (true to his nickname) for this defense. At his best, he’s easily a true No. 1 corner. But are the Eagles going to get Slay’s best? He’s 29 and he’s coming off a down 2019 season. He’s dealt with a number of nagging injuries. Giving up two draft picks just isn’t ideal when the Eagles have made the fewest selections (10) over the past two years. Giving up those picks limits the Eagles’ ability to trade up for one of the top three receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s also hard not to view the Slay trade through the prism of the DeAndre Hopkins deal (read: opportunity cost) and wonder why the Eagles couldn’t have been more aggressive when it came to acquiring a star player at a bigger position of need.
For what it’s worth, Slay ranks 77th out of 132 cornerbacks graded by PFF this year. That grade doesn’t account for the context of Slay drawing the toughest matchups each week. Still, the point is he hasn’t been the elite player the Eagles expected him to be. One must wonder if this might be his best season with Philly since he’ll soon be on the wrong side of 30.
My BGN Radio co-host assembled a video of Jeffery’s targets this season.
He’s pretty useless out there. It’s insane that the Eagles decided to INCREASE HIS PLAYING TIME this week. Just make him inactive already. There’s not a single good reason why he should be stealing playing time away from Travis Fulgham. Yes, even with Fulgham struggling.
Fulgham sure hasn’t been good since the bye. He has four receptions for just 32 yards in his last four games. He’s also dropped three passes.
Despite this, Fulgham actually still leads the Eagles in receiving this year with 467. That’s 63 more than the next closest player (Dallas Goedert) and 116 more than the next closest wide receiver (Greg Ward).
Maybe Fulgham just isn’t any good. It’s possible. But let’s see him get more playing time to prove as much instead of absolutely wasting snaps on Jeffery!
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
The offensive line sure wasn’t helped by Wentz holding on to the ball for forever. He had the second slowest average time to throw in the NFL this week at 2.99 seconds. The big guys up front ultimately gave up seven sacks, though. There were a number of times where the protection wasn’t good enough, such as when Jason Peters immediately got blown up.
Elliot is PFF’s worst graded kicker this year. He ranks 29th out of 34 kickers in extra point percentage after his second straight game with a missed PAT. Elliott’s field goal percentage ranks 26th out of 34 kickers. Elliott did make a 52-yard field goal, to be fair. And it’s not like he signed himself to a contract that makes him the NFL’s third most valuable kicker. But, man, that’s not looking like a good deal!
I DON’T KNOWS
Some (many?) will argue the Eagles’ defense belongs in the losers section. Especially after that 77-yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones to seal the game. If that’s how you feel, I get it, but I just don’t think the defense is one of the biggest issues with this team. They were pretty solid against Cleveland and Seattle the past two weeks. They clearly weren’t great against Rodgers — the NFL’s leader in passer rating — and company on Sunday evening. But I also think the Eagles’ defense wouldn’t look quite as bad if the offense wasn’t so horrible and could actually stay on the field. It’s an average quality defense, which would be fine if the offense was worth a damn.
I really hope he’s taking a close look at his voluminous notes. He needs to clean house this offseason. No half-measures. Time to start anew.