There’s naturally a lot of focus on the long-term impact of the Philadelphia Eagles benching Carson Wentz in favor of Jalen Hurts. But before we totally get ahead of ourselves in that regard, it’s important to. you know, actually see how the rookie quarterback fares as a starter.
And that begins this week with a very tough challenge in the New Orleans Saints.
It’s not just that the Saints are one of the NFL’s best teams, which is obviously the case. They’re 10-2 after winning nine straight games. They rank first in overall DVOA and third in point differential.
It’s specifically that their defense is playing very well right now. By the numbers:
- 2nd in defensive DVOA
- 5th highest graded defense by Pro Football Focus
- 5th fewest offensive points allowed per game (20.2)
- 8.8 points allowed per game in their last five matchups (though one opponent didn’t have a real QB)
- Tied for 2nd fewest opponent yards per play (4.9)
- 6th fewest opponent yards per pass attempt (6.6)
- 6th lowest passer rating allowed (85.6)
- Tied for 5th most interceptions
- Tied for 3rd most sacks per game
It’s not going to be easy for Hurts to have success against this unit, which features recognizable names such as Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, Malcolm Jenkins (oh), Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
Especially when Hurts might not be able to rely on one of his greatest strengths, his mobility, to move the ball. The Saints have really limited quarterback running production this season. Must be from all that experience defending Taysom Hill in practice.
Tom Brady — 3 attempts for 9 yards, 1 TD
Derek Carr — 3 for 3, 0 TD
Aaron Rodgers — 2 for 12, 0 TD
Matthew Stafford — 3 for 21, 0 TD
Justin Herbert — 4 for 8, 0 TD
Teddy Bridgewater — 2 for 10, 0 TD
Mitchell Trubisky — 1 for 3, 0 TD
Nick Mullens — 1 for 3, 0 TD
Matt Ryan — 0 for 0, 0 TD
Kendall Hilton — 2 for 7, 0 TD
Total: 21 attempts for 76 yards (3.6 average), 1 TD
Of course, those quarterbacks aren’t the most fleet of foot. Bridgewater and Herbert qualify as the most mobile options being ranked 11th and 12th in quarterback rushing, respectively, this year. Hurts could very well poise the biggest rushing threat the Saints have had to deal with.
The feeling here is that it’s a good thing that Hurts is getting such a tough test off the bat. A big part of the point of playing him is about the Eagles evaluating what they have in their rookie second-round pick. If he was playing against some terrible defense, it could be hard to parse how much credit he deserves. If Hurts plays well against the Saints this week, though, it’ll be a legitimately impressive performance.
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