Hurts: We’re Closer Than You Think
Eagles QB: Improved Offense Provides Hope
PHILADELPHIA—Even after disheartening performances in consecutive weeks, there was a noticeable vibrance scattered across the parking lots of Lincoln Financial Field hours before kickoff, as Eagles fans eagerly awaited the opportunity for their team’s redemption on the heels of a Week 3 loss to the Cowboys.
The Eagles — particularly, head coach Nick Sirianni and quarterback Jalen Hurts — spent the past week under intense scrutiny as they searched for answers.
Although the Eagles inevitably fell to the Chiefs, 42-30, on Sunday afternoon, Sirianni and Hurts both encouragingly exhibited signs of growth, perhaps a springboard as their grueling five-game stretch continues next week in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers.
Hurts, who in successive weeks had struggled with ball placement, decision-making, and working through his progressions, responded favorably despite his margin for error shrinking.
The second-year quarterback completed 32 of 48 pass attempts for 387 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions while recording a quarterback rating of 105.1. He also rushed for 47 yards on eight attempts.
Unfortunately for him, the team’s self-inflicted mistakes resurfaced, as three of his touchdowns were negated by penalties. Still, Hurts’ resurgence wasn’t lost on his head coach, who gushed over the performance of his young quarterback.
“I kind of talked to somebody in [the locker room],” Sirianni said. “I just said, ‘That’s one of the better quarterback performances I’ve seen.’ And I’ve been around a lot of good quarterbacks – Phillip Rivers and Andrew Luck.
“He battled. He made good decisions with the football. He got out of trouble when there was trouble. He made good checks. He made good reads. That’s the best I’ve seen him in practice. That’s the best I’ve seen him in a game since I’ve been here. Hats off to Jalen, he battled. That’s going to be important for us moving forward.”
Sirianni modified the game plan to make it more conducive to Hurts’ strengths, even using motion, which he downplayed all week.
Quick decision-making, facilitating the ball to playmakers in space, and deploying a more balanced attack proved to be a recipe for success for Hurts and the Eagles’ offense, which largely moved the ball at will against a vulnerable Chiefs defense.
Hurts also utilized his vast array of offensive weapons, as eight different skill players caught passes.
Sure, there were some misfires – overthrows to Zach Ertz and Greg Ward on would-be touchdowns stood out – but Hurts’ ball placement was its most efficient through the first quarter of the season.
Even with four new starters on the offensive line, Hurts commanded the offense, delivered with timing and accuracy, protected the football, and churned out yards with his legs when necessary.
But the rash of penalties continue to stall drives, take points off the board, and wipe out critical plays – continuing a trend that the team promises to correct each week but still hasn’t fixed.
Still, Hurts remained optimistic and tried to paint the picture of a better tomorrow.
“Everything is in our hands,” he said after the game. “That’s what I believe. I believe that everything in our hands and I believe that everything is controllable. You play this game, you want to control the controllables.
“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities in the red zone. Against a good football team, you have to score touchdowns. You have to score touchdowns, and that’s not something that we all didn’t know. We just didn’t do it, but we played aggressive.
“Offensively, I felt like we tried to go out there and attack. We didn’t punt the ball many times, I don’t think. So we just want to take advantage of our opportunities. We want to get points, that’s just what we want to do. This close. We’re coming.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.