That Giants game was both ugly and uncharacteristic for Jalen Hurts. He threw an inexcusable interception at the end of the first half and then another bad interception in the third quarter while trying to hit a big play.
It is easy to blame them on him being a bad/inexperienced qb, someone with no future in the NFL. I am sure his critics were quick to jump on their soapboxes to proclaim that he is yet another one of the organization's failures.
But let's take a deep dive into the mindset of our young qb, to try and figure out why a player who is normally so protective of the ball - to the point that prior to Sunday his turnover rate was one of the best in the league - would suddenly start chucking it up with a Favre-like sense of reckless abandon.
To start, let's reference a report today by Jeff McLane in which team sources said that GM Howie Roseman lacks confidence in Hurts. My reaction to this report is "No sh!t, Sherlock." Everything the GM has done since the start of the season has indicated that he has no confidence in Hurts. He has made no secret of the team's desire to trade for a veteran qb and he has gone so far as to travel to a college game so that he could personally scout two potential first-round qbs. It's the equivalent of a groom smacking the ass of a bridesmaid on his wedding day while at the same time responding "sure, whatever" when asked if he would take this woman to be his bride by the reverend.
I am sure that Hurts knows that he is on a trial basis, and that trial is probably going to come to an end the minute the clock hits all zeroes in the Cowboys game. So it makes sense that he would force a throw near the goal line instead of throwing the ball away. I am sure that, somewhere in his mind, he is thinking that he has to score touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone to keep his job. And you know what, he is probably right.
If the team isn't sold on him now, and every indication is that they aren't, then doing the same things the rest of the season - ignoring tight windows to avoid turnovers, not taking deep shots, etc. - isn't going to help his case. If he wants to show he can be the future of the franchise, he has to start showing he can do more than beat a bad Giants or Jets team, he has to show he can do it in a way that makes the GM have confidence that he can win a Super Bowl.
Because that's where we are, aren't we.
Right now the Eagles are averaging 5.6 yards per play, which is a remarkable jump from last year's 5.0, which was 31st in the league. The three teams around us in that stat - the Packers, the Patriots and the Ravens - are all leading their divisions. Realistically, we should be popping champagne bottles and extremely happy that we have shown this level of improvement. Even Sunday, which was by far Hurts' worst performance, he moved the ball into the opponent's territory on 6 of 10 drives, or one more than the Giants were able to do on the same amount of drives.
Jones accounted for 232 yards of offense, while Hurts accounted for 206. Yes, Hurts had the turnovers and played the worst game of his career. But, Jones also has the full and unwavering support of his organization, despite the fact that his game was probably just as bad with the exception of the turnovers. The Giants also averaged 4.6 yards per play in the game, while the Eagles, with Hurts, at his absolute worst, averaged 5.1.
So why is the team, and to be honest a lot of the fan base, not showing the same support for Hurts that Jones had in his sophomore season? Especially since Hurts is operating with essentially one less receiver than every other qb in the league? (Paul Hembekides on Twitter: "Jalen Hurts QBR this season (0-to-100 scale): Targeting Jalen Reagor (5.8) Targeting all others (65.6))
To me, it all comes down to winning a title. I think even Hurts' biggest critics would have to concede that he is clearly good enough right now to get the team to a winning record. But that is only because of his ability with his legs. He has made our run game into something of an unstoppable force (the Cowboys, with a vaunted offensive line and two solid RBs, did squat against the Saints last night, a team we ran all over.) But our passing game, which just has to be average to be the perfect complement, is obviously lacking.
Another part of the equation is the defense, which is giving up 20 yards less per game than it did last year, and is ranked 11th in the league. It is easy to see how plugging two or three top 50 draft picks into that bunch could push it solidly into the top 10.
So we have the makings of a championship defense and already have a championship running game. It is easy to see why the front office would be thinking, "if only we could find a guy who could throw the ball."
And I am sure that Hurts is thinking the same thing. He must know that he is three or four more completed passes a game away from putting all the speculation about his future to rest. That's the difference between a 60 percent completion rate and a 70 percent completion rate.
And the team has a massive decision in front of it. Does adding another DeVonta Smith to the equation - a Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson - make Jalen Hurts good enough? Or is that just putting another weapon on the field that goes wasted because our qb can't get him the ball.
I have to admit, I wouldn't want to be in the GM's position. Imagine how he must feel right now. Wentz is playing well in Indy. Not great, mind you. That team has actually seen its yards per play decrease this year. But clearly he has the arm strength to hit the deep passes that we are missing this year. And it's hard to imagine this team not being a contender with Wentz throwing to Smith and Justin Jefferson with Jeremy Chinn roaming our defensive backfield.
The team is under an enormous amount of pressure. There are easily four qbs in the draft who could be anything from total busts to franchise building blocks, and no clear consensus on any of them. Hurts could be a decent receiver away from turning our offense into a top 5 unit. Or he could be hitting his ceiling and unable to push us into the top 15.
A few days ago I defended the GM, and I guess this is where I bury him. Because he has painted himself into a corner, and brought Jalen Hurts along with him. In some ways, Hurts throwing deep to Reagor on consecutive plays at the end of a game that largely decided our playoff fate was an excellent job of trolling the GM by our young qb. Consider this, Smith is averaging 60 yards per game, while Reagor is averaging 16. If Reagor was producing at the same rate as Smith (an increase of 44 yards per game), our offense would move from 351 yards per game to 395, a jump from 18th position to fourth.
Now, I am not sure that that would actually happen. Perhaps Smith's yards would drop. Maybe Hurts is a qb who will never utilize a decent third target because he can't read defenses or coverages that well. But I think one can make a much easier argument that adding a decent wr to the mix, along with a bunch of defensive talent, is a much clearer road to success than using a ton of draft capital on a veteran or relying on one of the rookies to be what Hurts isn't.
And the one thing I would be doing as GM would be telling my current qb that his only job is to win games this year, and not to try and prove that he can win a championship in the future by trying to make heroic plays that cost us games when they don't work out. I think a vote of confidence by the organization would go a long way to making sure we don't see a repeat of Sunday's debacle.