Eagles brought back down to earth in disappointing loss but it’s not all bad

Jalen Hurts
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles went into week 2 as slight underdogs in what was a very winnable matchup against the San Francisco 49ers and a depleted secondary. They walk out of it with their tails between their legs and a lot of reflecting to do.

Just one of those days

It felt like every team in the NFL had something go wrong today. However, the Eagles didn’t help themselves. If there was a way to hurt their chances of winning, they found it. Bizarre play-calls, tough injuries, a lack of traffic to wide receivers, stupid penalties, and inconsistent play from Jalen Hurts all contributed to a game that slipped out of grasp after the second half.

Let’s not forget that there was a blocked field goal attempt, a called-back touchdown, a potentially missed delay-of-game call at the end, a poor penalty on K’Von Wallace, either. Yeah, not great.

I’ll get into the nitty and gritty throughout the week, but I wanted to emphasize that this game isn’t frustrating because the Eagles played badly. We’ve seen them play much worse. It was annoying because there were flashes of just how far this team can go, all shrouded by a mist of their own teething problems. It’s going to take time, but there are enough positives to look forward to.

Nick Sirianni struggles

This wasn’t Sirianni’s finest moment. The offensive gameplan today looked like something out of a game of Madden – Nothing but deep shots and runs. With Jalen Hurts underthrowing those deep bombs more than occasionally, the offense very quickly became stuck in an all-or-nothing cycle where the team would rush time after time before trying to sling one deep. It didn’t work.

Sirianni refused to try a QB sneak at the goal-line which cost the Eagles a touchdown at the end of a 91-yard drive. He left the team with zero timeouts with 5 minutes remaining in the final quarter. There was a real lack of TE involvement and screens/swings/sweeps were to be seen nowhere.

It’s back to the drawing board for the rookie head coach, who did show some new wrinkles to his scheme in the way of option looks, but seemingly sacrificed everything else to facilitate them.

Linebacker help…please?

The defense actually had a pretty solid game. Javon Hargrave burst out of the gate with a sack, Darius Slay picked off a pass and Steven Nelson should’ve had a pick of his own. The front four did a brilliant job of suffocating the Niners all afternoon, but at the second level, things got sloppy.

Eric Wilson and Alex Singleton struggled today against a Niners offense that was built to specifically exploit the weakness of the team’s weakest positional group. Genard Avery looked better, but the bar wasn’t exactly high, and Davion Taylor flashed potential before being pulled from the game with an injury.

The Eagles ended up struggling to bring down ball-carriers (namely Deebo Samuel) and the Niners continued to put them in tricky spots. Credit to Kyle Shanahan where it’s due, but this should be a sign for Howie to maybe try and find help before the deadline.

The duality of Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts didn’t play badly. In fact, he played pretty well. The only problem was that while he passed for 190 yards, rushing for 82 more and a touchdown, he also played some unnecessary hero-ball. There were four occasions where Hurts almost turned it over and was fortunate that an interception didn’t happen. He also struggled to air it out deep consistently to a point where his receiver had a chance to make a play on the ball, instead underthrowing it.

When all was said and done, Hurts played solidly and the final offensive drive where he put the entire team on his back and did it all himself was nothing short of captivating. However, he’s got to iron out those errors if he is to continue performing at this level. As we know from last year, you can’t fly too close to the sun forever.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire