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Eagles News: Jalen Hurts at the center of one of the biggest playoff questions

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/15/22.

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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The Six Biggest Questions Heading Into the NFL’s Wild-Card Weekend - The Ringer
6. Is Jalen Hurts’s future in Philadelphia secure? It seems like a dumb question. Hurts has far exceeded most expectations for the 2021 season. He led the Eagles to the playoffs with timely scrambles, accurate downfield passing, and tremendous ball security as both a runner and a passer. He galvanized a young locker room, stayed steady through early-season losses, and is a keystone of the Eagles’ diverse rushing attack. He has, incontrovertibly, played well enough to maintain the starting job in Philadelphia. But it is not a dumb question. Not for anything to do with Hurts—but for the way the Eagles do business. No team views the quarterback position as a more fluid role in need of constant investment than the Eagles, who drafted Hurts with the 53rd pick despite their insistence that a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz was already on the roster. They then traded Wentz less than a year later, incurring a massive dead-cap hit, when circumstances changed. General manager Howie Roseman is a wheeler and a dealer, and no possibility should be discounted when it comes to his quarterback position.

Fire and ice: Inside Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts’ low-key pursuit of perfection - ESPN
Later in Hurts’ high school career, Henderson remembers him sailing a pass that was intercepted, costing the Falcons the game. The tension over the headset was palpable as Hurts came off the field and approached Averion. The exchange, however, was not as explosive as anticipated. “His dad saw in his eyes that he already knew [what he did wrong]. So he took that opportunity to, instead of coaching him hard in that situation, to being Dad in that situation,” Henderson said. “His dad is his second biggest critic. Jalen is his own biggest critic. He wants to be so perfect.” It reached a point where Jalen was the one delivering the harsh criticism at times. Channelview holds what it calls “boot camp” in the offseason where all the players have to dress alike and move in unison to commands on the practice field. One day during boot camp entering his senior season, Hurts sensed the group was being lackadaisical and went off. “He called them on out,” Henderson said. “He was like, ‘You’re all being lazy!’ And I’m giving you the nice version. ‘You’re all not doing what it takes to become champions. You’re all talking about what you want, to go play here and go play there [in college]. Nobody wants anybody who is not going to do what they’re supposed to do!’

Biggest game of a big-game life: Nobody has more to gain or lose from Eagles-Bucs than Jalen Hurts. - Inquirer
Which brings us back to Sunday, and a playoff game against the Bucs that will tell us more about who Hurts is and who he can be than any other game he has played at any other level. That’s not hyperbolic. That’s indisputable. For better or for worse, quarterbacks and coaches are ultimately judged on their performance in big games. Ask Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid, Randall Cunningham, and Carson Wentz. Win or lose, Hurts’ performance this postseason will have a bigger impact on his future under center than any previous game. It shouldn’t win or lose him the job for next season, but it most definitely will impact his margin for error. Whether that is fair is beside the point. It’s just the way the world works. Since start No. 1 against the Saints, he is 1-6 against teams that finished the season .500 or better. That one win came against a team quarterbacked by Trevor Siemian.

Eagles vs. Buccaneers Game Preview: 5 questions and answers with a playoff enemy - BGN
I’ve seen a lot of predictions, even from the Bucs Nation staff, predicting big double-digit wins by the Buccaneers. Several even putting the Bucs at over 30 points. But I see a closer game than that, especially when we are supposed to be hit with a storm Sunday afternoon with wind gusts nearing 30-plus miles per hour. What I expect is the Bucs to ride the legs of Leonard Fournette as he returns this week, apply non-stop defensive pressure to the Eagles offensive front, and possess the clock enough to keep their defense fresh. I have Tampa Bay beating Philadelphia 24-20, although I wouldn’t be “shocked” if it went the other way.

Above the Nest with Raichele #39: Keys to win Eagles-Bucs game - BGN Radio
Raichele Privette jumpstarts the episode recapping the Eagles’ regular season finale against the Cowboys. Later in the episode, she shares her keys to the Eagles defeating the Buccaneers on Sunday and runs through injury reports.

Eagles-Buccaneers playoff preview podcast - PhillyVoice
In the latest episode of BGN Radio, Brandon Gowton and I discussed the Philadelphia Eagles’ upcoming playoff matchup with the Buccaneers. We also touched on the Eagles’ draft positioning, their 2022 schedule, and where Doug Pederson might land as a head coach.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Philadelphia Eagles: Wild Card Preview - Bucs Nation
An early lead for the Bucs is a key to victory. Philadelphia is 31st in the NFL in points allowed in the first quarter of a game with 5.9. The only team that allowed more were the Jacksonville Jaguars with 7.0. Tampa Bay, who struggled with slow starts down the stretch, were third in the NFL in first quarter scoring with 6.3 points per game in the first - including 4.7 points in the last three games. At home, they are averaging 7.0 points per first quarter. Taking advantage of that mismatch can catapult the Bucs to an early lead, forcing Hurts to throw the ball earlier and more often than Philadelphia would care to see.

GamePlan: How Nick Sirianni Earned the Eagles’ Trust - SI
Every coach is trying to sell his players something—and it’s easy for any coach to make his pitch. Getting them to buy it is harder, and, sure, there was a period of time when there might’ve been an arched eyebrow or two shot at Sirianni. Then came the spring. “Connect was a big thing for him,” Mailata said. “And we did think it could just be all talk. But when we came in person for OTAs, when we were allowed to come in, that’s when we really saw it. We came in and there was a bloody basketball hoop in front of the auditorium, there was table tennis, what’s the bean bag game? There was cornhole going on. “And a couple of us, in the break, that five-week break after the OTAs period, we stayed and we connected, different groups—linebackers, O-linemen, D-linemen, tight ends; we stayed and we connected. Every guy who didn’t have anywhere else to go, or didn’t go home, we stayed and, man, did that build a bond. For me, that’s when I realized the small things that Coach did, putting the basketball hoop inside the auditorium, that stuff made a difference.” To be sure, Sirianni’s not the first coach to put in a Ping-Pong table to build camaraderie. The difference here, Mailata explains, was Sirianni’s ability to use those tools to build real relationships—not just surface friendships.

Three reasons Eagles will upset Buccaneers on Super Wild Card Weekend: Jalen Hurts primed to beat Tom Brady - CBS Sports
Since then, with rare exception — like a loss to the Giants where the coach-QB combo once again hurt each other by leaning heavily on the pass — the Eagles have smartly leaned into the run. Hurts plays with the vision and body type of an actual RB. Sanders is a full go after resting up from hand surgery, as is Jordan Howard as the bruising No. 2. As a bonus, Hurts has actually made visible progress as a timely thrower during the team’s broader pivot to the ground. Tampa Bay may boast a top-three run “D,” but the Bucs have also allowed over 100 yards to the Falcons (121), Jets (150) and Bills (173) in the last month. The Eagles, meanwhile, lead the NFL with an average of almost 160 rushing yards per game, and Hurts — who battled an ankle injury down the stretch — should be in prime form after an extra week of rest. He’s also unfazed by the stage, having played in plenty of big games before entering the pros.

Projecting 2021 NFL playoffs: Who will play in Super Bowl LVI? Win the Lombardi Trophy? - NFL.com
It’s logical and also true that as the Eagles started to run the ball more often, they faced less-favorable rushing conditions. From Weeks 1-7, they ran the ball on just 38.5 percent of plays, faced light boxes on 57.3 percent of plays, produced 2.8 yards before contact per rush and 4.95 expected yards per rush. The last three stats all ranked in the top three in the league over that time period. From Weeks 8-18, Philadelphia ran on 58.6 percent of plays (most in the NFL), faced a light box on 43.3 percent of rushes, produced just 2 yards before contact per attempt and 4.45 expected yards per rush. The Eagles account for two of the top-three individual rushing averages on outside-the-tackles attempts, with Jalen Hurts at No. 2 (6.9) and Miles Sanders at No. 3 (6.8). As a team, their 5.9 yards per rush ranked second in this category behind Indianapolis (6.3). In their Week 6 loss to the Bucs, Hurts was limited to 10 rushes for just 44 yards outside the tackles.

Philadelphia Eagles-Tampa Bay Buccaneers playoff cheat sheet: News, players to watch, more - The Athletic
Wulf: I think the Eagles have a real shot here. Brady is Brady, but their offense has to be less efficient without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. The Eagles have the ability on offense to run on the Bucs, and if they can get a lucky bounce or two on defense, I can see them pulling it off. I think they will prove to a national audience that hasn’t watched them down the stretch that they are a playoff-worthy group, but they’ll fall short in the end simply because the defense isn’t good enough to meaningfully affect the quarterback. Bucs 31, Eagles 24.

Kelce adds another line to his Hall of Fame resume - NBCSP
Jason Kelce moved one step closer to the Hall of Fame Friday when the Eagles’ superstar center was named to the 1st-team NFL All-Pro team for the fourth time in his legendary career. Earlier this year, Kelce was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, but this is only the second time in his career he’s been a Pro Bowler and 1st-team All-Pro the same season. He also received both honors in 2019. Even at 34 years old and in his 11th season, Kelce has played at a remarkably high level, anchoring an offensive line that helped the Eagles rank 12th in scoring and 1st in rushing yards in Nick Sirianni’s first season and was the centerpiece of an unlikely playoff run.

Head Football Coach Chip Kelly Signs New Four-Year Contract - UCLA Bruins
UCLA has signed head football coach Chip Kelly to a new four-year contract through the 2025 season it was announced today by Martin Jarmond, the Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics. Kelly began as head football coach at UCLA in 2017. For the 2021 season, the Bruins finished tied for second place in the Pac-12 South for the first time since 2014, reaching the eight-win mark (8-4) for the first time since 2015. In addition, UCLA earned its first bowl appearance since 2017. “We are extremely appreciative of the entire UCLA administration for their support of our football program. We have a tremendous amount of gratitude for our players and staff. Their tireless work, and commitment to our vision has built a great foundation. We are excited to continue to build this program into something that makes the UCLA fanbase proud,” said Kelly.

2022 fantasy football playoff rankings - DraftKings Nation
For playoff rankings, the most important aspect is accurately predicting who wins each playoff game. That, is of course, nearly impossible, but the closer you are, the better your team will likely be. So, do you want a possible three games from Aaron Rodgers or a possible four games from Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes? I like upside, so usually lean the second way. The extra game might not materialize for any team if the Packers and Titans play in the Super Bowl, but it does give your team a lot of upside if you end up getting four games from a good chunk of your fantasy playoff team.

Every Jim Harbaugh rumor about his potential return to the NFL - SB Nation
Jim Harbaugh’s seven seasons as the head coach of Michigan football have been full of ups-and-downs. While Harbaugh has compiled a gaudy overall record, his Wolverines were often thought to be underachievers — until this past season. Michigan’s excellent 2021 campaign has now put the 58-year-old coach back on NFL radars, where he could be one of the league’s hottest candidates as teams look to fill new openings. Michigan went 12-2 this past season, including the program’s first win over archrival Ohio State since 2011. The Wolverines were one of four teams in the College Football Playoff, but they were blown out by a powerhouse Georgia team in the semifinals. It was a big year for Harbaugh, who signed a contract extension before the season that cut his pay in half. The timing might be right for him to jump back to the NFL.

NFL Reacts #23: Super Wild Card Weekend - The SB Nation NFL Show
Welcome to another edition of NFL Reacts! Stephen Serda, Kate Magdziuk, and Justis Mosqueda are previewing every game on super wild card weekend across the NFL. The Niners and Cowboys should be a shootout but don’t sleep on the Raiders and Bengals. The Patriots and Bills seem like a game to avoid.

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