We’re officially a quarter of the way through the NFL season…or we would be if they didn’t add an extra game. Anyway, it’s a good time to check in on the progress of the Eagles, who currently sit with a 1-3 record. Their season-opening win against the Falcons was followed up by a rollercoaster of performances. But how does the team look with the dust beginning to settle?
Jalen Hurts has had two really good games and two stinkers. However, I don’t think all of it is on him. When Nick Sirianni actually gameplans tight ends to run over the middle and gives him running backs to use (even if it’s about of the backfield), Hurts looks electric. He’s struggled when he’s had the rug pulled just as anyone would.
The big thing that we can say for definite is that while he does have weaknesses, they’re all correctable. The strengths he continues to display should only reenforce the confidence that the team has in him.
Hurts has made smart decisions with the football for the most part, has looked dangerous on the move, and shown that he can make those big-time plays. The only thing really missing is consistency, but for a 23-year-old quarterback, it’s so hard not be pleased with what he’s shown so far.
The issue grading this position is that we’d need to see actual footage of a running back carrying the ball. In all seriousness, I think Kenny Gainwell has been excellent through the opening four games of the season and has given the offense something it craved – production out of the backfield. The only problem is that it’s not coming in the way many are comfortable with and instead being largely limited to catching passes out of the backfield.
The decision to limit Miles Sanders is a puzzling one but when he does carry the ball, he looks confident and is still able to churn up yards with ease. There are still some raw aspects to his game, but they won’t improve unless he’s given the opportunity to work on them in game scenarios.
Overall, the Eagles backfield needs to up the ante if this offense is to have any kind of sustainable success but it’s not like the backs themselves are at fault. When given an opportunity, both players have done relatively well. They can’t help if Sirianni wants Jalen Hurts to pass 80% of the time.
Both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert shined against the Chiefs after finally being schemed to run over the middle and help out their quarterback. Prior to that, the tight ends had produced like I expected them to – under the radar in terms of receiving and instead making their contributions as in-line blockers.
Sirianni might have had a change of heart last week and if their exposure to the passing game continues then we could see a strong second quarter from both. The two have still combined for 341 yards and 3 of the team’s 7 touchdowns. Ertz looks closer to his 2019 form than the mess we saw last year and Dallas Goedert is scarily close to a breakout if volume comes his way.
The group has once again been ravaged by injuries. 80% of its starters were sidelined on Sunday and we’re only four games into the season. With that said, a fairly inexperienced group held its own against Kansas City.
Andre Dillard has looked serviceable in place of Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson has flown under the radar since making his NFL debut, which is probably the best compliment you can pay an offensive lineman. Jack Driscoll survived his game of positional roulette and has now shown the ability to play both inside and out. Jeff Stoutland has worked wonders once again.
If it’s any consolation, the Eagles o-line is allowing 2 sacks per game – a 50% decrease compared to what we saw last year. I would look into rushing efficiency…but the Eagles actually need to run the ball in order to be efficient.
DeVonta Smith has been everything we hoped he would be and more. His first 100-yard game could’ve been even bigger had he not touched the sideline on a called-back touchdown. He’s carved up every defense he’s faced with masterful precision in his routes, giving Jalen Hurts huge windows to throw into.
As for the rest of the group, Jalen Reagor is frustratingly close to becoming a consistent target for Hurts. He still struggles to separate and make some damaging mistakes, but there has been some clear growth in his game and that has to be commended.
I’d like to see more from Quez Watkins. Even if it’s on screens or just a little motion here and there. His breakaway speed is stunning to watch and terrifying for defenses to account for. He’s shown flashes of being a fun gadget player and the more he has to be circled by coordinators, the more opportunities open up elsewhere.
As a closing statement, just think back to the concerns with the wide receiver group in each of the past five seasons. Next to none of those apply here and the youth of the group presents plenty of upside to get excited about.
Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)