The Philadelphia Eagles lost at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night by a score of 28-22. It wasn’t the most crushing defeat the Eagles have ever suffered (certainly not even the worst against the Bucs), but second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts should not be satisfied with his performance.
The Eagles did not move the ball well early in the game. The defense was able to stop Tom Brady and the Bucs offense three times during the first half, but the Philadelphia offense did not capitalize on their opportunities to stay with the defending Super Bowl champions. They went to the locker room with just 73 total yards.
Missed Throws Stunt Eagles Momentum
Hurts only connected with DeVonta Smith twice for 31 yards. The second-year QB missed his top offensive weapon on an out-route towards the right sideline on the opening drive. Smith ran a good route and created separation, but Hurts sailed it way over his head.
Later in the first half, Hurts missed (now former Eagle) Zach Ertz on a similar route. Both plays were opportunities in the intermediate passing game, and the offense has not executed these types of plays consistently enough through the first six games.
The Eagles came into the game as underdogs, and their defense faced an uphill battle against Brady and a Pro Bowl cast of offensive weapons. They trailed 21-7 at halftime, but the offense left key plays on the field early that could’ve made it a much closer game.
Hurts Made Key Mistakes
Hurts finished 12/26 with 115 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
The interception was a poorly thrown ball intended for Quez Watkins on a fly route along the sideline about 40 yards downfield. The interception came because Watkins desperately tried to adjust to the off-target throw but ended up missing it entirely. It allowed Tampa Bay’s Jamel Dean to secure the pick fairly easily.
In the second half, Smith played another poorly thrown pass differently than Watkins did. He recognized the unlikelihood of making the catch and turned to the mode of a defensive back. He batted the off-target throw to bail his quarterback out of another possible interception.
Hurts and Jalen Reagor have not developed any rhythm as a tandem this season. The former first-round pick has just 140 receiving yards in six games this season. Head coach Nick Sirianni seems to want him to develop into a focal point in the offense, but Hurts and Reagor simply aren’t on the same page.
It’s not all bad for Jalen Hurts
Hurts has thrown for 300 yards twice and finished with a quarterback rating over 100 twice in 2021. His 387-yard performance against the Kansas City Chiefs was outstanding.
On Thursday, he demonstrated some of his strengths despite the overall poor game. He rushed for two touchdowns and showed his tremendous athleticism on a third down conversion in the first half.
Everyone on the team, around the team, and within the organization speaks highly of Hurts in terms of leadership qualities, work ethic, and other intangible skills. He demonstrated these strengths in the Week 5 comeback win against the Carolina Panthers and to a lesser extent during the Eagles comeback attempt on Thursday.
Hurts deserves credit for his positive output in these areas. However, strengths as a runner and intangible skills will not make up for all deficiencies. The NFL is a passing league, and quarterbacks need to be able to make the types of throws that Hurts missed in Thursday’s loss. Sirianni, general manager Howie Roseman, and Hurts himself should not be satisfied in evaluating the overall play of the quarterback early in his tenure as a starter.
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