There is an endless discussion about what throws starting quarterback Jalen Hurts can and cannot make. The one undeniable aspect of his play, however, is his athleticism. That was on display during his final college season at Oklahoma when he rushed for 1,298 yards. It was on display during his first ever NFL start when he racked up 102 yards on the ground in a win over the Saints.
Eagles fans have seen Hurts take off, run and make moves with his legs since then, but it hasn’t felt as much of an integral part of the offense as it should be, especially this season under new head coach Nick Sirianni.
This past game against the Panthers was a prime example of the issue. The Eagles couldn’t do jack in the passing game, running screen after screen to no avail, infuriating Eagles fans everywhere. How about mixing things up?
Sirianni’s aversion to running the ball has been criticized ad nauseam. The first time head coach should be putting Hurts and the rest of the offense in the best position to win and he simply isn’t doing that right now.
Hurts didn’t have his first designed run of the game until there were 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Hurts powered through on Carolina’s one on a quarterback sneak for the Birds’ first touchdown of the afternoon. Just in terms of short yardage situations, there aren’t many players in the league who should be better at QB sneaks than Hurts, if any. This dude is rocked up and can squat the combined weight of Josh Sweat and Fletcher Cox:
This is why some of Sirianni’s goal-to-go calls have been so curious. That drive against the 49ers following Quez Watkins’ 91-yard reception sticks out here. Let Hurts barrel downhill and punch it in. The Eagles don’t have a single go-to play that they use that they can consistently rely on, but a QB sneak from Hurts should be that.
When the Birds climbed back into things and displayed some vivacity on offense in the fourth quarter, Hurts was finding success as a rusher and that served to open up the passing game in the middle of the field, something that Eagles couldn’t do in the slightest during the first three quarters. Perhaps it’s a situation where Hurts is either handing it off too frequently on read options or deciding to throw the ball too often on RPOs, but I find it hard to believe there isn’t more room for straight Hurts runs.
If the Eagles are going to roll with Hurts as their starter and hope he can be The Guy beyond 2021, they need to allow him to do what he does best even as he improves as a passer. Hurts is a beast as a runner. It’s time for Sirianni and the offensive staff to realize that.