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Eagles News: “Even as Jalen Hurts gets better, sticking with him feels like a low-ceiling approach”

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/17/22.

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NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Let’s get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

The Eagles’ Future With Jalen Hurts Has Never Been Murkier - The Ringer
If Hurts gets better, it may mean he has a quicker trigger, becomes more accurate, and makes tougher throws. But his fundamental strengths and weaknesses as a player won’t change. The offense that created no structural challenge for the Buccaneers? That let them sit with their corners off the ball and loaded boxes, daring the Eagles to challenge them with in-breaking routes? It’s nicely optimized to Hurts’s style of play. Another legit wide receiver and a good secondary tight end threat who can move around the formation would help, but this is decently close to the final form of a Hurts-led offense. There just isn’t much more you can do to help this player beyond what Sirianni already did this season. That offense was perfectly respectable down the back stretch. But without elite play from several positions, it sure doesn’t seem like a playoff-caliber offense. The Eagles are a rebuilding team that overachieved this year, so talking about their ceiling might be presumptuous—but, even as Hurts gets better, sticking with him feels like a low-ceiling approach. Hurts is clearly an NFL quarterback. He deserves more starts, more opportunities to grow, and better receivers. But on the path he’s currently walking, Hurts looks like a career backup and spot starter. For a second-round pick once billed as a running back playing quarterback, that’s a great achievement. For Philadelphia, it’s a good reminder: Hurts is a step on the path from the failed Wentz experiment to another future with a yet-unnamed passer.

2021 NFL playoffs: What we learned from Buccaneers’ win over Eagles on Super Wild Card Weekend - NFL.com
2. Jalen Hurts regresses after late-season improvement. The second-year quarterback looked overmatched most of the contest until garbage time — much like he did versus Tampa in Week 6. Against a juggernaut Bucs run D, the matchup would always come down to Hurts’ arm. Credit the QB for fighting back to make the scoreboard more palatable in garbage time, but his struggles early cost Philly as they got down 31-0. Hurts struggled much as he did during the Eagles’ early-season swoon. The QB fled the pocket too soon at times, missing opportunities for big plays. He often missed high and wide. Nothing down the field from Hurts was on target as he went 2 of 11 for 63 yards and an INT on deep passes. His two interceptions killed any chance for the Eagles to keep it close. The inconsistent play Sunday belied the improvement the young signal-caller displayed down the stretch of the regular season. After the stinker, Philadelphia will spend the offseason debating whether Hurts has done enough to retain the starting gig in 2022.

Cowboys losing in hilarious fashion takes some sting out of the Eagles’ elimination - BGN
Well, Sunday wasn’t ALL bad for Philadelphia Eagles fans. While there’s really no sugarcoating the Birds essentially getting blown out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at least there’s some solace to be had in the Dallas Cowboys also being eliminated from the 2022 NFL playoffs. Despite entering their wild card home game as three-point favorites, the Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers. Whereas the Eagles were playing with “house money” to some extent, the Cowboys were viewed as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. And they couldn’t even get out of the first round.

BGN Instant Reaction Show: Eagles got exposed by the Bucs, Jalen Hurts looked awful, why didn’t Birds target DeVonta Smith more?! - BGN Radio
Eytan Shander and Jessica Towne Taylor unload their frustrations with the Eagles after they struggled against Tom Brady and Buccaneers, falling 31-15.

Roob’s Obs: Sirianni struggles, DeVonta disappears, and more - NBCSP
1. Let’s start with Jalen Hurts. This was as much of a disaster as you could imagine for the 23-year-old quarterback. He rushed through his progressions, threw sideways too much, tossed the ball up into traffic, didn’t see guys running open, threw late and behind guys, showed terrible pocket awareness, threw two interceptions and really just looked overmatched while the game was still in the balance. That goal-line INT just before halftime was an absolute killer. Chance to go into halftime down 10. Just cannot make that throw. I’ve been pretty clear about giving Hurts 2022, and maybe that still makes the most sense. But this was such a regression it has me wondering. He came up so small in such a big game, and what’s most alarming is that the mistakes were self-inflicted. It’s not that the Eagles didn’t win, it’s just how lost Hurts looked. Every one of his limitations was on full display Sunday. Now, Hurts ran around and made some plays late in the game, and you see why he’s such an intriguing player. But honestly, when this game ended I asked myself, “Can this team win a Super Bowl with Jalen Hurts at quarterback?” And I feel less confident about it than I did before the game. I expected a lot more from him.

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Buccaneers wild card round game - PhillyVoice
Entering the season, the two biggest concerns about Hurts’ overall game were his accuracy, as well as his decision-making and mental processing from the pocket. The latter improved at times over the course of the season, as was expected of a young, intelligent kid, but Hurts’ inaccuracy lingered. In the playoffs, Hurts threw wildly all over the field, missing receivers long, short, left, right, and everything in between. He also missed some receivers who were open for potential big plays. Hurts did a lot to make a case that he should be the Eagles’ starting quarterback at least in 2022, but he was so bad against the Bucs in the playoffs that his last impression is going to be difficult to shake. He finished 23 of 43 for 258 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs, which looks bad enough on paper, but the eye test showed that the passing game often didn’t even look functional. If the Eagles can upgrade the quarterback position this offseason, they should. It’s the most important position in sports, and they shouldn’t settle if there are opportunities to get better there. However, if the right opportunity doesn’t come around, Hurts at least showed enough that staying with him for another season is a perfectly reasonable option as well.

Eagles face difficult questions in pivotal offseason following beatdown by Bucs - ESPN
QB breakdown: Some notable Jalen Hurts stats from the first half, via ESPN Stats & Info: He was 2-of-8 with an interception on passes with more than 10 air yards, 2-of-6 with a pick when pressured, and 0-of-4 with an interception on passes outside the pocket. His interception near the end of the first half in the end zone was the beginning of the end for the Eagles this season. Eye-popping stat: This was the Eagles’ 47th playoff game in franchise history. They were held scoreless in the first half of a playoff game for just the second time in their history, per ESPN Stats & Information. The other time was in the 1996 wild-card game at the San Francisco 49ers. Troubling trend: The Eagles were held scoreless in the first quarter for the fourth time in five games, the exception being the regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys in which Philadelphia rested most of its starters. It marks the fifth straight Hurts start in which the Eagles were held without a point in the opening frame.

Eagles routed by Buccaneers: Despite Jalen Hurts’ promise, Philly must explore QB options for 2022 - CBS Sports
The Eagles followed a general pattern in 2021: against similar or lesser teams, they thrived as a run-first attack, with Hurts rightly deployed for his legs as much as his arm. Against actual contenders (or, alternatively, when they just tried too hard to throw the ball), they failed. Hurts’ defenders might pin blame on Sirianni for refusing to lean on the ground game more, and the coach certainly put a big burden on the young QB out of the gate, but that’s ignoring the greater reality: when push came to shove against good teams like the Bucs, Hurts and Sirianni tended to hurt — not help — each other. And in today’s NFL, you shouldn’t be able to criticize a coach for asking his quarterback to consistently pass the ball. That’s not to say Hurts can’t grow as a decision-maker, or that the duo can’t run it back in 2022 with better help and better results. But the former Alabama and Oklahoma star has long leaned more on scrambling than passing to win, and that remained the case in big spots this year, with Hurts notably struggling to read opposing looks or properly time throws early in games.

Jalen Hurts was overmatched in his first playoff game — now the Eagles must decide if he’s their QB of the future - The Athletic
The best-case scenario for the Eagles has always been Hurts excelling as the starting quarterback and proving he’s a player around whom the Eagles can build. That would allow Roseman to invest the draft picks elsewhere, and the Eagles would benefit from having a starting quarterback on a rookie contract. When they won the Super Bowl in 2017, it helped that they had a cost-controlled starter. But Eagles management won’t be satisfied with being a nine-win team sneaking into the postseason as the No. 7 seed. They want to host playoff games. They want the decided quarterback advantage in playoff games. And they’ll need to determine if Hurts is the guy who can fit that description. “My third year starts tomorrow,” Hurts said. It’s up to the Eagles to decide if he’ll be the unquestioned starter in Year 3. Welcome to the offseason.

Jalen Hurts will be the Eagles starter in 2022, but a loss to the Bucs sure makes you wonder about his skill set - Inquirer
The question is whether he has what it takes to get better. Playing quarterback in the NFL requires the ability to make a certain set of throws, and an ability to see the field well enough to identify opportunities to make them. Of all of Hurts’ good moments this season — and there have been plenty — few have come as a result of either of those qualities. He simply does not have the arm strength to consistently deliver the sorts of throws that the game’s elite quarterbacks make as a matter of routine. And he has yet to display an ability to dissect a defense at the line of scrimmage and in the pocket. He is a leader, and a playmaker, and a guy who will keep you more competitive than a lot of the quarterbacks in this league. But the biggest games have consistently been when his limitations are most glaring (they are now 0-7 against playoff teams).

NFL Wild Card Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Philadelphia Eagles 15 - PFF
Jalen Hurts has outperformed a lot of expectations this season, but this was a game that raises questions about how far he has to go and how good he can be as a passer when the team faces better opposition. Hurts threw for 258 yards, but he made multiple turnover-worthy plays and 68% of that yardage came after the catch through an endless sequence of screens and short passes.

Wild-Card Weekend: 49ers Survive, Cowboys Crumble, Bills Dominate In Opening Of NFL Playoffs - FMIA
I wonder if sometimes you’re Shaq Barrett or Lavonte David and you think, Uh, other guys are on this team other than Brady. I mean, all indications are there’s zero Brady-envy in the Tampa Bay locker room. But when that D comes to play, the Bucs could win with the ghosts of Bucs quarterback past. Through 44 minutes Sunday in Tampa, the Bucs had a 31-0 lead and the Eagles had just 172 yards. Philadelphia changed its offensive style to a run-based attack in midseason, and the Bucs snuffed that out on the first two series. They stopped Jalen Hurts for a five-yard loss on the first series of the game, and stopped Miles Sanders for another five-yard loss on the second series. The Bucs are getting healthier on defense at the right time, welcoming back Barrett and David on Sunday. Now if they can only accelerate that bad hamstring of mainstay running back Leonard Fournette. He was held out Sunday. The sooner he plays, the less pressure there will be on Brady.

The First Step - Iggles Blitz
Jalen Hurts finished 23-43-258 with a TD and 2 picks. A lot of that came after the game had been decided. Early on, Hurts was not seeing open guys or not seeing them quick enough. You have to see those guys in the playoffs and get them the ball on time. The QB must be able to make big plays from the pocket. That just didn’t happen enough on Sunday. The skill players didn’t always help. Dallas Goedert dropped a pass that would have put the Eagles inside the Red Zone. Receivers and runners routinely made poor reads when trying to make plays with the ball in their hands. The defense was too soft early on and didn’t make a play until it was 17-0. They settled in at that point and started to get pressure on Brady. The Eagles finished with 4 sacks. Amazingly, Ryan Kerrigan played his best game of the year. He had 1.5 sacks and 2 TFLs.

Resilient Eagles unable to muster one final comeback - PE.com
The Eagles never recovered, and they were unable to get into any kind of rhythm offensively all day. The idea was to control the line of scrimmage and eat the clock and run the football, but Tampa Bay’s defense loaded the box and took away that option. The Bucs also blitzed effectively off the edge and the Eagles tried to counter with the screen game, but as Sirianni said afterward, “We weren’t good enough against their run blitzes.” Hurts moved the ball for a couple of drives in the second quarter, but one possession ended on downs and another ended when Hurts rolled left and threw for Smith in the end zone, only to see safety Mike Edwards recover in coverage and intercept the ball at the pylon in the end zone, a play on which Hurts said he just got the ball out of his hands later than he wanted. Tampa Bay led 17-0 at the half and then added to the lead midway through the third quarter as the Bucs pounced on a Jalen Reagor muffed punt at Philadelphia’s 48-yard line. Five plays later, Brady threw to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone to widen the difference.

Buccaneers vs. Eagles recap: Super Bowl defense begins with 31-15 win - Bucs Nation
Sunday marked the second time the Bucs have ever pitched a shutout in the first half of a playoff game. The first time came in 1997, when they held the Eagles scoreless over the opening half of a Wild Card game.

The Dallas Cowboys point fingers and blame officiating following their season-ending loss - Blogging The Boys
Ever since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 we have seen Dak only say and do the right thing as far as when he is in the public space. For him to openly endorse fans throwing debris at officials because they did not like the calls that they made is poor judgment by Prescott. Losing sucks and will always put people in bad moods, but as the leader of the organization Dak has to be better than this. Sunday was really disappointing in that the Cowboys completely collapsed as a football team. Seeing them point fingers and blame officiating in the aftermath only solidified some of our worst fears in that they don’t believe they were in the wrong in any real way. That’s a big problem.

Giants position review: What does the future hold for Saquon Barkley? - Big Blue View
Will the new regime, though, decide that the best way to maximize Barkley’s current value to the franchise would be to find a trade partner and amass draft capital to try and add some much-needed talent? That move would also save the Giants from having to make a long-term decision on Barkley, although the franchise tag could be a 2023 option if he is still with the team. Co-owner John Mara said recently that a Barkley decision would not be his. That the new coach and general manager would make that choice. Booker carries a $3 million cap hit in 2022. The Giants can save $2 million of that by cutting him. Despite the productive year he had, you wonder if a new regime might choose to do that to create some financial flexibility.

Which WFT players provided the best value in 2021? - Hogs Haven
DeAndre Carter proved to be top value, providing help both on special teams and as a wide receiver ($243,000/AV).

Sunday Late Night Wrap Up #19 - Wild Card Sunday doesn’t disappoint - The SB Nation NFL Show
Rob “Stats” Guerrera recaps all of Sunday’s Wild Card action with the plays, stats, and storylines you need to know! The 49ers edged the Cowboys on the weirdest ending of all time, the Chiefs rolled over Pittsburgh and retired Big Ben, and the Bucs handled the Eagles.

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