The Philadelphia Eagles have lost their first game of the 2022-23 NFL season. For the doom-and-gloom fans, the sky has now fallen and the season is over. In reality, the team has finally faced adversity and should be better for it.
One thing that the city of Philadelphia has surprisingly been steadfast on (in a positive light) is the play of their quarterback, Jalen Hurts. In a city where a quarterback can be run out of town after one game, Philly understands Monday night’s 32-21 loss to Washington falls not on the quarterback, but on the entire team.
Jalen Hurts may not have been unstoppable Monday night, but he showed continued signs of improvement, leadership, and becoming a top-five quarterback right before our eyes.
Jalen Hurts exhibits improved accuracy and arm strength
It’s never easy to combine these two together but for the sake of the response, it’s important to do so. Jalen Hurts on Monday night completed 17 of 26 passes for 175 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and an above-average QBR of 73.2.
Looking at the numbers, they don’t stand out too much and for a lethal offense, Hurts’ numbers may be disappointing. But context matters in the NFL. The Eagles offense had the ball for just under 20 minutes: an unacceptable stat perpetrated by a third-down defense that was anemic on Monday.
Taking into account the lack of time Hurts had with the ball, it makes sense his numbers were a tad lower. That doesn’t mean he was bad though. On two deep balls to AJ Brown and Quez Watkins, the quarterback hit his receivers in stride, showing the improved arm strength and accuracy downfield that many assumed he’d never being able to accomplish.
It just so happened that Brown’s deep ball went off his hands and was intercepted, and Quez Watkins dove to the ground, only to fumble seconds later.
These aren’t Jalen Hurts’ mistakes and they are key to understanding what the Eagles have at quarterback. Bad games are going to happen for each and every team in the NFL. The less of a reason your quarterback is at the center of blame, the better off you are.
After their first dud of the season, the Eagles could have absolutely blamed horrific calls from the refs as a reason for the loss. Instead, they looked inwards and understood that it was their mistakes that put them in their situation.
“We have to control the things that we can. When we came out here today, we did not do that. We didn’t do it and today it got us. It is very important to control the things that you can, control your ball security, and knowing where the operational play is supposed to go. Just execution. Those are all things that we control and do a better job of that.” Jalen Hurts said after the game.
Hurts, of course, is correct. And it’s a good thing to see the leader of a team say this. Hurts’ message has been echoed throughout the entire team and it’s important for the Eagles to understand this.
Top-5 Quarterback Syndrome
Throughout the course of NFL history, whenever a team has a top quarterback/offense, the only way to beat them is to keep them off the field. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and even Patrick Mahomes have gotten this treatment.
On Monday, Hurts and the Eagles’ offense had their own taste of that. Washington kept them off the field for the majority of the game and it really hurt the rhythm that the Eagles are known to play at.
Hurts still had his team in a position to win, but if there’s ever a clear example of how well Jalen Hurts is playing, teams trying to keep him off the field is the biggest one yet.
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire