This upcoming offseason was always going to be a complicated one for the Eagles. The second Carson Wentz was benched in favor of Jalen Hurts, there was always going to be a Hurricane of controversy that followed. After Hurts’ first two NFL starts, however, it looked as though the decision was going to be fairly easy to make. After his third, not so much.
Jalen Hurts started the game off strongly. An 81-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson followed an impressive opening drive that saw the rookie razzle and dazzle with his legs. In fact, the first half as a hole was relatively impressive. Hurts quickly went 9-14 on passing for 178 yards and a touchdown while rushing for a further 53 yards. Going into the second half is where things took a turn.
Hurts would go 12-25 for 164 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, and rush for just 16 yards as the Cowboys pulled themselves back from the brink of playoff elimination to embarrass their biggest rival. It also has to be noted that the ball security issues that have haunted Wentz have not disappeared with his benching. Hurts already has nine fumbles this season.
The Oklahoma product looked skittish in the second half. He stared down open receivers, missed open passes, and was instinctively getting out of the pocket and running for his life on occasions when a check-down option was available.
It’s almost like that Jalen Hurts wasn’t the magical fix to an ailing offense after all…
The Eagles were stung heavily by false start penalties and poor pass protection. 5 Dallas tackles for loss highlight the constant penetration achieved, while 3 sacks and 6 QB hits show Hurts’ ability to escape the burning building…but that’s the thing.
Hurts has been magical in recent weeks because of his ability to get out of trouble with confidence and make a big play. Last night felt like pure survival instincts as the rookie started to struggle for air amidst rising waters.
With receivers struggling to gain separation, a running game that disappeared, and terrible blocking, the Jalen Hurts show was only ever going to reach a certain height before things started to fall apart.
What Hurts did incredibly well was mask some of the many issues this Eagles offense has through sheer athleticism and rushing unpredictability. But when the rain pours and the mask wears off, the offense underneath is still just as volatile as it had been all season, and the same goes for Doug Pederson and his play-calling.
This isn’t to say that Carson Wentz would’ve magically saved the day. If anything, it’s an indication that nobody could’ve. And if that really is the case, then the Eagles have needlessly created a nightmare situation going into the offseason having broken down their franchise QB and doubled down on a rookie that may not be the fix after all.
Skies were clearer when Jalen Hurts was breaking incredible streaks set by the New Orleans Saints and launching incredibly placed passes. When he looks, and plays like a rookie, those skies suddenly cloud over and the whole scenario becomes that much more frightening.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire