Let’s get the negative out of the way: Hurts threw an interception. It might not have entirely been his fault as much as it was the combination of a miscommunication and a great play by Ahkello Witherspoon. Regardless, Hurts has five turnovers through five games and that pace needs to stop.
Putting that aside, Hurts was pretty excellent. He completed 65.8% of his throws for 303 yards (8.0) average, one touchdown, one interception, and a 87.9 passer rating. Those numbers don’t really give him enough credit since the Eagles too often stalled out in the red zone. Hurts largely made good decisions and accurate throws, such as his tight-window strike between two defenders to Dallas Goedert for the opening drive touchdown.
Hurts finally came to life as a runner with 15 carries for 72 yards (4.8 average) and one Brotherly Shove touchdown. After last week’s game, we talked about how the Birds can’t have Hurts be a non-factor with his legs. And so it was good to see him contribute effectively in that capacity, especially when the team really needed him to do so:
Another HUGE 3rd down conversion by Jalen Hurts pic.twitter.com/yLzKBczmWi— Shane Haff (@ShaneHaffNFL) October 8, 2023
For the second week in a row, you can say that Hurts played his best game of the season. Very encouraging to see him stacking performances like this and heating up.
All the while, Hurts continues to make history with his winning ways. This is really impressive stuff:
Jalen Hurts is the fifth NFL QB since 1950 to record 22+ wins in a 23-game stretch, joining Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Jim McMahon, and Joe Montana.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2023
Jalen Hurts' 11-game road winning streak is tied for the 3rd-longest by an NFL QB since the 1970 merger, only behind Joe Montana (18) and Tom Brady (13). #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2023
Jalen Hurts is the first QB in NFL history to record 30+ rushing TDs in his first 50 career games.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2023
The Eagles are 5-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history. A lot of different people deserve credit for that much, including the head coach. Pretty good company here:
Nick Sirianni is just the 8th NFL head coach since the 1970 merger to guide his team to 5-0 starts in consecutive years, joining Andy Reid, Tony Dungy, Mike Martz, Mike Shanahan, Mike Ditka, Tom Landry, and Bud Grant.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2023
Sirianni’s aggressiveness to go for a score as opposed to running out the clock at the end of the second quarter was encouraging to see. It was downright critical to winning the game.
Sirianni could still afford to be more aggressive in fourth-and-short scenarios. He also needs to figure out how to fix the red zone issues.
Overall, he’s doing a good job of steering the ship.
(Side note: I don’t really have much to offer on the animated sideline conversations he was involved in because I don’t think think they’re really a big deal at all. I don’t like to be in a homer mindset of downplaying real concerns but, truth be told, this stuff really just doesn’t register with me. Same way I felt about A.J. Brown’s “outburst” in Week 2 being made to be a much bigger deal than it really was in terms of impacting team success. Non-issue until proven otherwise.)
The Eagles’ defense certainly did not get off to a strong start. Very unsurprisingly, throwing the combination of Mario Goodrich, Eli Ricks, and Nicholas Morrow at Cooper Kupp was not effective. Two previous healthy scratches at CB and a linebacker who wasn’t even on the roster in Week 1.
Desai made effective adjustments, however, and his defense ultimately settled in. The Eagles allowed ZERO second half points, which is pretty good. The Rams were averaging 10.5 second half points entering Week 5.
Philly’s defensive coordinator was undoubtedly aided by the offense playing keep away. But Desai’s unit did their part as well:
Eagles defensive possessions in the second half:— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) October 8, 2023
TO on downs
End of game
They allowed a total of 95 yards on 5 Rams possessions. The Rams did not run an offensive play in Eagles territory after the 2nd quarter.
The red zone issues are a real problem that’s addressed in the IDK section. For now, let’s focus on the positives:
- 454 total yards of offense
- 37:55 time of possession
- 13/18 on third down
That 72.22% conversion rate on third down is especially noteworthy since the Rams were allowing opponents to convert just 26.67% of their attempts entering Week 5. Only the Cleveland Browns (shout out Jim Schwartz) were allowing a lower rate at 22.64%.
Johnson did a nice job of getting Goedert involved early and often, as many called for him to do. He also kept things balanced between passing (38 attempts) and running (39 attempts).
Overall, the offense looked liked it had rhythm reminiscent of the 2022 Eagles ... minus the red zone finishing.
Running out of things to say about A.J. Brown. He’s ridiculously good.
The Eagles don’t win this game without him. His contributions to the Eagles’ four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with 0:32 remaining in the second quarter were huge. Total momentum shifter with the Eagles going into halftime up three points instead of down four and the Rams getting the ball to start the third quarter.
Brown’s eight targets resulted in six catches for 127 yards (21.2 average). He makes it look very easy despite doing really difficult things, such as catching a one-handed pass in stride before taking off for lots and lots of YAC.
Hey, the Eagles finally remembered Goedert is on the team!
Good to see him going after an inexplicable slow start. He caught eight of his nine targets for 117 yards (14.6 average) and one touchdown.
He helped set the tone for the game by being physical and running through contact after the catch on the Eagles’ first drive.
The Eagles shouldn’t forget that good things happen when they throw the ball to No. 88.
Stoutland is The Aaron Donald Eraser.
The credit he deserves goes hand-in-hand with great players doing their part, of course.
But Stoutland has ultimately overseen five games against a future Hall of Famer in Donald where the Eagles have surrendered ZERO sacks, one TFL, and six QB hits.
And this despite the fact the Eagles used a number of backup interior offensive lineman in those games.
2014: LT Jason Peters, LG Matt Tobin, C David Molk, RG Todd Herremans, RT Lane Johnson
2017: LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LG Stefen Wisniewski*, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson ... *(rookie Isaac Seumalo had to come in for an injured Wiz halfway through)
2018: LT Jason Peters, LG Stefen Wisniewski, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson
2020: LT Jason Peters, LG Isaac Seumalo, C Jason Kelce, RG Nate Herbig, RT Lane Johnson
2023: LT Jordan Mailata, LG Landon Dickerson, C Jason Kelce, RG Sua Opeta, RT Lane Johnson
Jeffrey Lurie should hand Stoutland a blank check to stay in Philly forever.
THE EAGLES’ OFFENSIVE LINE
Hurts was only sacked once and it happened on a play where he held the ball for a bit. That was one of the only two QB hits the Rams put on him.
In addition to giving Hurts lots of time to throw, the o-line paved the way for one touchdown and 159 rushing yards on 39 attempts (4.1 average).
Special shoutout to Opeta for filling in for Cam Jurgens and the line not really missing a beat.
Carter is a BEAST.
Anecdotally, this sack on Matthew Stafford feels like one of the most violent QB takedowns I’ve ever seen (in a perfectly legal and good way). Carter tosses around a 6’3”, 220 pound man like he’s a rag doll:
Carter was credited with two sacks and two TFLs in this one.
Carter is now up to 3.5 sacks through five games this season. Let’s compare that figure with rookie production from other recognizable NFL defensive tackles:
Dexter Lawrence: 2.5 sacks in 16 games
Quinnen Williams: 2.5 sacks in 13 games
Chris Jones: 2 sacks in 16 games
Jeffery Simmons: 2 sacks in 9 games
Javon Hargrave: 2 sacks in 15 games
Cam Heyward: 1 sack in 16 games
At this pace, Jalen Carter has a real chance to reach or surpass Aaron Donald’s nine sacks as a rookie in 2014. Or maybe even (former Eagle) Ndamukong Suh’s 10 in 2010.
Both of those guys earned Defensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl honors in those season. Suh also earned All-Pro honors as a rookie.
That’s the elite company Carter could be keeping.
Sweat was PFF’s highest-graded Eagles defender from this game. He tied Haason Reddick for a team-high five pressures (three hurries, two QB hits) in addition to forcing a fumble that really should have been recovered by the Birds.
With two FF in five games, Sweat is already one more shy of tying a career-high in that category. Plenty of time to set a new personal record.
Reminder: Reddick had his cast (from a thumb surgery) removed ahead of Week 4.
After having zero sacks with a cast on in the Eagles’ first three games, Reddick is up to three sacks over the last two games.
And they’ve been high-impact sacks, too.
In Week 4, Reddick took down Sam Howell to bring up a 3rd-and-17 that Washington failed to convert. The Eagles were able to score a touchdown to go up 31 to 24 (before then giving up a TD and eventually winning in OT).
In Week 5, Reddick sacked Stafford on back-to-back plays to force a turnover on downs and essentially allow the Eagles to run out the clock. Clutch.
In addition to two sacks, Reddick was credited with another QB hit and two TFLs. He’s heating up! And that’s very good news for the Eagles’ defensive outlook.
Week in and week out, Swift very much passes the eye test. You have to love the way he runs hard and fights for extra yards.
Swift’s 17 carries went for 70 yards (4.1 average). He caught all six of his targets for an additional 38 yards (6.3 average).
38 yards in this game alone represents 22.5% of Kenny Gainwell’s receiving yards from all last year as the Eagles’ top pass-catching RB. It is 48.7% of Miles Sanders’ receiving yards in 2022.
Covey is very good at his job. He had two punt returns for 35 yards, both of which directly preceded Eagles scoring drives.
Since the start of 2022, Britain Covey ranks 1st in the NFL with 7 punt returns of 20+ yards.#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2023
Ho hum, just another home field advantage on the road.
Jalen Carter says #Eagles fans were so loud that the Rams had to adjust how they snapped the ball— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) October 8, 2023
Carter figured it out and it helped him get to the QB
Credits Eagles fans for “helping them every week” pic.twitter.com/TvOQx4568n
THE BROTHERLY SHOVE
Save for the two failed attempts that didn’t really matter at the end of the game anyway.
And if you’re not down with this very awesome football play, we’ve got two words for ya ...
RED ZONE OFFENSE
The Eagles’ first three drives in the second half:
- 7 plays, 75 yards
- 17 plays, 83 yards
- 10 plays, 72 yards
The Eagles scored just six points from those.
That was good enough to beat the Rams but it’s not going to be good enough to beat better opponents coming up on Philly’s schedule.
The Eagles have scored touchdowns on just four of their last 12 red zone trips. In fairness, two of those visits were end of game scenarios where they were more focused on running clock than scoring points. Still, four out of 10 isn’t good.
The Eagles are converting 42.11% of their red zone attempts this season. Only five teams rank below them. This one year after they ranked third-best at 68%.
Red zone performance is not considered to be a sticky stat year-to-year, so it’s not insane that the Eagles have dropped off to some extent. But to be as bad as they’ve been is surprising considering the talent they have to work with. You would think this issue is something the team should be able to iron out.
More than one thing can be true™:
1) Watkins should have been able to follow his blocking to pick up a first down on a crucial 3rd-and-2 in the red zone.
2) Watkins should not have been targeted on a crucial 3rd-and-2 in the red zone.
On the first point, it’s another example of Watkins being an unserious player. He’s struggled to make the most of limited opportunities dating back to last year. It’s crazy how, entering Week 5, Olamide Zaccheaus only took two games to outproduce Watkins’ yardage total from his previous nine games combined ... just for Watkins to immediately be reinstalled as the undisputed WR3. OZ over Quez especially makes sense in the red zone where Watkins’ field-stretching speed isn’t as valuable as OZ’s dependability. More OZ, less Quez. It’s overdue.
On the second point, why does this coaching staff feel the need to get cute with lesser players in high-leverage situations?! There’s really no need to overthink this. You have A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert, DeVonta Smith, and D’Andre Swift at your disposal. If you fail trying to get the ball to one of them in a high-leverage situation, so be it. If you fail trying to get the ball to someone like Watkins or Kenny Gainwell, what the hell are you doing?! The obsession with utilizing such mediocre (at best) players when such awesome alternatives exist is befuddling. Opportunity cost is a very real thing.
There was a point well into this game when Watkins had three targets and DeVonta only had one. Why!
So, like ... what are the Eagles doing with Goodrich? We previously brought this up in our snap count notes:
The Eagles curiously started Mario Goodrich in the slot after making him a healthy scratch [instead of keeping him active as the backup nickel behind James Bradberry] in Week 3 and playing him for zero defensive snaps in Week 4.
They were just in a rush to get Josh Jobe off the field even though he’s looked better than Goodrich ever has? Or they really liked Goodrich matching up against Kupp?!
According to PFF, Goodrich was targeted five times and allowed five catches for 49 yards, one touchdown, and a 147.1 passer rating.
Why not take an extra opportunity to point out that Dallas got embarrassed on national television to help give the Eagles a two-game lead in the division?
Once again, I’d encouraged you to check out my discussion with Cowboys fan RJ Ochoa from Blogging The Boys in this week’s episode of The NFC East Mixtape podcast on BGN Radio. It’ll be published on Wednesday morning.
Dak Prescott: “I won’t have 10 interceptions this year."— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 9, 2023
Cowboys QB is up to 4 picks in 5 games so far.
I DON’T KNOWS
Roby seemed to do OK being thrown into the fire as the Eagles’ nickel cornerback on short notice. We’ll need to see a bigger sample size to feel more confident about his outlook but at least he avoided a rough start.
Gainwell had one really good snap where he made an effective block in pass protection before leaking out (blue route in Madden), making a short catch short of the sticks, and then running through a tackle on third down to move the chains. That was great!
Unfortunately, that seven-yard reception was his best play by far this season.
Gainwell otherwise struggled as a blocker with three pressures allowed on eight pass block snaps.
He also continues to not offer much juice as a runner. He had seven carries for just 17 yards in this game, bringing him down to 3.3 yards per carry on the season.
When it comes to solving the Eagles’ red zone woes, they should probably stop wasting plays on him down there:
Perhaps too much Kenny Gainwell? Eagles RBs inside the 20:— John Stolnis (@JohnStolnis) October 9, 2023
D'Andre Swift 13 att. 50 yards (3.8 AVG) 2 TDs
Kenny Gainwell 13 att. 26 yards (2.0 AVG) 0 TDs
Jalen Hurts 15 att. 22 yards 4 TDs (Tush Push scores)
Would it really hurt to get Boston Scott a little more involved? He hasn’t logged a touch since Week 2 despite having six carries for 43 yards (7.2 average) and one reception for seven yards in the first two games. Scott should get a chance to eat into Gainwell’s playing time.
On the bright side, Morrow continues to be good in run defense. He logged a team-high three stops, defined by PFF as tackles that constitute a “failure” for the offense.
On the downside, Morrow dropped a tipped interception and then failed to recover a fumble that was lined up right in front of him. That mistake cost the Eagles 43 yards of field position.
Morrow’s snap count is in jeopardy of dropping with Nakobe Dean potentially returning as soon as Week 6.
Slay has quietly cooled off after a hot start in Week 1.
His coverage stats in the four games since, according to PFF: 31 targets, 23 receptions, 285 yards (12.4 average), 1 TD, 0 INT, 113 passer rating allowed.
Don’t trust PFF? OK. Pro Football Reference’s charting has him down for an 100.8 passer rating when targeted this year. That’s below expectation for a player being paid the 11th most money annually at his position.
Mann had a nice 41-yard punt from the 50-yard line to pin the Rams at their own 9-yard line. But is he really worth using a roster spot on? Mann is out of temporary practice squad elevations so the Eagles have a decision to make a punter.
Acknowledging a small sample size, Mann’s 41.6 yards per punt ranks 33rd out of 35 punters this season. His 38.8 net yards per punt ranks better but still not great at 26th out of 36 punters.