Can a Jalen Hurts-led offense be sustainable?
In his first career NFL start, Jalen Hurts delivered a tremendous performance to upset the top-ranked New Orleans Saints, 24-21. His numbers don’t jump off the page but Hurts looked calm and collected as he commanded the Eagles offense on route to snapping the Saints’ 9-game winning streak.
Hurts gave the Eagles the most exciting game from the QB position we’ve seen this season, mostly because of his ability to open up the field with his legs. Jalen Hurts finished the day with 106 yards on 18 carries (3 of them were kneel-downs) and ran for 75 of those yards in the first half. He coughed up the football late, but other than that Hurts did a fine job taking care of the football which is something Carson Wentz has struggled with all year.
Jalen Hurts became the first QB to throw for 150+ yards and a passing TD while rushing for 100+ yards in his first career start. He also joined Lamar Jackson as the only other QB to rush for 100+ yards in their first career start. Hurts kept the Saints defense on their toes with his mobility and that allowed the Eagles to get Miles Sanders going on the ground.
Jalen Hurts reached a top speed of 20.48 MPH on this run for a first down on 3rd & 4 (5-yard gain).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 13, 2020
Hurts has already reached three faster speeds over his last two games than Carson Wentz has reached over the last three seasons (18.41 MPH top speed).#NOvsPHI | #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/ZleduqEwvg
Hurts’ quickness and decisiveness in the pocket was certainly refreshing to see after watching Carson Wentz make ill-advised decisions all year. The passing game, however, is still as broken as it’s been the last two seasons. Jalen Hurts threw for just 38 yards on 5/9 passing in the second half and the Eagles’ WRs only combined for 6 total receptions. Jalen Hurts’ longest pass of the day (in terms of air yards) was his 15-yard TD completion to Alshon Jeffery.
As great as Jalen Hurts was yesterday, I’m not sure how wise it would be to have your QB run the ball 12+ times every game. Even Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson only run the ball 6-8 times a game. And now that there’s legitimate film out on Hurts, how long will it be until defenses learn how to contain him?
Pederson has shown the inability to adjust to Carson Wentz’s strengths in the past. It would only be a matter of time before we’re watching an offense that was just as stagnant as it was with Wentz under center. There’s a reason why Lamar Jackson isn’t repeating his MVP campaign from last season. Sooner or later, Hurts is going to have to beat opposing defenses with his arm. And that isn’t to take anything away from Jalen Hurts, he was smart with the football despite being under pressure at times:
Jalen Hurts was pressured 14 times on Sunday.— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) December 14, 2020
On those, the Eagles gained 82 yards and took 0 negative plays.
Hurts wasn’t sacked at all yesterday (having Jason Peters out of the lineup probably had something to do with that) and he made the most out of what was in front of him. He didn’t try to force anything, albeit Hurts was fortunate a couple of passes didn’t go the other way.
This offense, the way it’s currently constructed, simply isn’t good enough for Carson Wentz to play the way he wants to and let plays develop. Jalen Hurts kept the offense unpredictable and that was the difference yesterday. The playcalling from Pederson wasn’t special but the Saints were unprepared and that gave Hurts the edge.
Travis Fulgham is still the Eagles leading wide receiver despite having zero catches the last two weeks. The Eagles are well on their way to a second consecutive season with no WRs over 500 yards. They’re going to need more than just the threat of Jalen Hurts running the ball if they want to convert this spark into a fire offensively.
Travis Fulgham snap counts the last 4 weeks:— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) December 14, 2020
• v. CLE: 65 snaps (96%)
• v. SEA: 37 snaps (52%)
• v. GB: 25 snaps (40%)
• v. NO: 11 snaps (16%)
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