Well, that sucked. The Eagles stormed into Tampa Bay with hopes of springing a surprise over Tom Brady and company. Instead, they were met with a stern punch to the guts early on and never really recovered. A fourth-quarter rally might convince you the game was within reach, but that would be a lie. Here’s what we learned from the excruciating loss.
Jalen Hurts is who we thought he was
For the past few weeks, Eagles fans have almost been lulled into a false sense of security. Jalen Hurts has ran, hurdled, thrown, and danced his way through some easy opponents, rallying the Eagles to a postseason berth and building up a ton of steam. He wasn’t asked to throw too much because the team was so dominant running the ball, and when he did, the assignments were easy. Then today happened.
Hurts had no touch on the ball, looked skittish in the pocket like he did earlier in the year and it was almost as if a season’s worth of development had come undone, leaving the beloved Bama product to try and fight his way out of a battle too tough to win.
Jalen Hurts is an electric rushing quarterback, but is so fundamentally raw as a passer that it can and will sting you if the ground game is unable to get going. We saw that today.
Regardless of your view on Hurts, the fact is that the front office will decide his fate. If Howie Roseman wants a signal-caller he can trust in the playoffs, he has to work out whether or not to double down on Hurts again. He has all the assets needed to make the contrasting move if needed. His first offseason task will be working out what direction the team pursues next.
The play-calling here was dreadful. The Eagles got way too cute early on and a rushing offense that obliterated teams in the back-end of the season sat dormant as screens, RPO’s and short passes ruled the day…until the Birds played themselves into a deficit, had to throw from behind in a shootout that a sporadic Jalen Hurts had no shot at winning.
There should’ve been more emphasis on diversifying the run, not keeping it simple, and then falling back to the pass. But, it’s his first playoff game as a Head Coach so we have to allow for some growing pains.
Remember when the Eagles defense was receiving sensationalist praise after holding offenses such as Washington and New York to minimal points? Yeah, again, they were brought back down to earth.
Jonathan Gannon continued to deploy zone coverage against the smartest mind in the game, giving him ample opportunities to give a depleted receiving corps easy pickings on screens and short passes without a DB insight. By the time pressure did start arriving and press coverage was deployed, it was too little, too late.
The Eagles were down 31-0 at the commencing of the fourth quarter. Sure, penalties and a misfiring offense didn’t help that, but the defense really let the ball drop here and this performance was much closer to what we saw against top-tier QB’s earlier in the year, games where they were picked apart like it was nothing.
Jalen Reagor might be on borrowed time
If Ryan Kerrigan ends up contributing more to the Eagles than you do, that’s a problem.
Oddly, Kerrigan became only the fifth player in Eagles history to register 1.5 sacks in a playoff game…because of course he did.
Anyway, Reagor muffed punts (one of which led to a touchdown) and delivered his general weekly dose of awfulness. Brill.
Nobody expected the Eagles to win this game and it served as the perfect game to end the season on, reminding everyone from the front office to the fans of where this team currently is and what needs to change. That last part invokes a long list, but it’s better than inflated value and a false sense of security if they had somehow pulled out a win.
With three first-round picks in-hand, this is going to be the biggest offseason in recent memory for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire