Jalen Hurts’ decision making continues to hurt the Eagles, can it be fixed?
The Achilles heel of Jalen Hurts once again reared its ugly head on Sunday when the Eagles lost to the New York Giants, 13-7. Philadelphia struggled on offense largely due to a combination of play calling and the performance of their starting quarterback. Jalen Hurts had the worst game of his career, throwing three interceptions, primarily due to head-scratching decisions.
It’s clear he has so many impressive traits, mainly in his athleticism and leadership ability. However, his decision-making and arm strength continue to lead to issues for the Eagles this season.
The sophomore quarterback’s decision-making can be improved and shouldn’t affect his whole career, but right now, it is brutal. Philadelphia’s heavy-run offense has helped cover it up due to not many passes combined with easy setups due to play actions. But when New York shut down the run early on, Hurts was forced to pass more once again, and it was clear as day.
For reference, here is Jalen Hurts’ passing charts against the Giants where he had to pass often, compared to New Orleans last week, where Philly ran twice as much as they threw.
Vs. New York:
Vs. New Orleans:
The issues deep are there, but not as evident with less attempts and zero interceptions combined with their overall great showing. With how dominant they are on the ground it’s easy for Philadelphia to hide these issues, but when injuries strike it was bound to occur again.
Any time his first option isn’t open, Jalen Hurts panics. He is never fully confident in his play to make quick-twitch throws when the opportunity arises. DeVonta Smith was open twice on their final play, and looking at Hurts, he was in an open pocket, but panicked when Smith initially broke free.
It resulted in pressure getting to him, and he broke the sack, and Smith was wide open again. Hurts is strong enough to throw off his back foot 35 yards, but he hesitates once more, throwing to Reagor a few seconds later instead, who has two safeties over top of him.
Yeah, Jalen Reagor should have caught it, but it wasn’t the right decision at all that play. Hurts saw his guy wide open with the ability to throw twice and panicked. In the end Jalen Hurts chose a wide receiver who just dropped a crucial catch right before this, who was covered over top, instead of his wide-open top widout.
Another instance was in the closing seconds of the first half. The Eagles have a perfect chance to get on the board down three with a few seconds left. With no timeouts, they call a pass play so the clock can be stopped. Jalen Hurts has nobody and, instead of throwing it out of bounds, plays hero ball, resulting in a game-changing interception.
There’s no excusing this throw, Jalen Hurts has been a starter in football for numerous seasons and knows a quick pass out of bounds can keep things going. He had nobody open, the pass that was forced was into heavy coverage it was highly risky for no reason whatsoever. But still, the worst is these decisions on plays downfield.
Compared to the rest of the league, Jalen Hurts’ ability to throw the ball deep (20+ yards) is arguably the worst in football.
|Jalen Hurts||32.1% (5th worst)||53 (2nd most)||3 (T-3rd worst)||5 (2nd most)|
|Carson Wentz||39.6 (11th)||48 (9th)||5 (7th)||3 (13th)|
I used Carson Wentz as a comparison here due to the similar miscues he had here in Philadelphia combined with the amount of attempts he had. Still, Hurts is significantly worse and puts into perspective his poor QB play down the field. The bad numbers wouldn’t be that bad if there weren’t many throws, but Hurts is throwing deep the most in the NFL behind only Derek Carr.
With how strong Jalen Hurts is, I don’t think the arm strength is the leading cause here, instead it’s likely Hurts’ confidence in making quick decisions. No quarterback is perfect, and there are things Hurts is excellent at, like his running ability. Mental hiccups are usual for young QBs. The critical piece is Nick Sirianni working through it with him over these next few weeks.
A bright spot if the Eagles miss out on playoffs is an opportunity for Jalen Hurts break these habits in a live game setting. Let Hurts make mistakes, build his confidence up in those quick reads. All he need to do is trust his receivers. Hurts has the ability to get the football there, now it’s about getting it to them in time.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images