The entire city of Philadelphia breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced that Eagles QB Jalen Hurts while sustaining an injury, is not expected to miss considerable time.
Hurts suffered a shoulder sprain during the Eagles’ 25-20 win over the Bears on Sunday. As the tough-minded, MVP candidate that Hurts is, he didn’t let the injury affect his overall play and still guided the Eagles to what is now a 13-1 record.
But the injury raises serious concerns regardless of how long the quarterback is hurt. And while blame can certainly be passed to the scrambling quarterback, the more realistic culprit in the Eagles’ turning point of their season is their offensive staff.
Eagles’ Play-calling and Context Matter
If you want to assign blame to someone for Hurts’ injury, all you have to do is look at the box score. Against one of the worst run defenses in all of football, the Eagles ran Miles Sanders just 11 times. Runningbacks in total carried the ball just 14 times.
Jalen Hurts is a very good running quarterback, but he’s also shown exceptional growth as a passer. In short, the Eagles coaching staff hasn’t honored their quarterback to let him simply throw and let their running backs go on their own.
It’s not like the Eagle backs have struggled either. Miles Sanders is a 1,000-yard rusher and is having a career year. In the freezing cold of Chicago, there was no reason to run as many zone-reads as they did to put Hurts in harm’s way. That alone falls on the offensive coaches.
The minute the Eagles saw how cold it was, the designed zone reads should have been cut down immediately. The Eagles’ offensive line is one of the best in football but it seemed, on Sunday afternoon, the coaching staff refused to trust that they could move the line of scrimmage as they’ve done all year.
Hurts is also a prideful quarterback. He wants the ball in his hands at times and is willing to do whatever is necessary. It falls on the coaching staff to realize the context of the game and understand that running their MVP wasn’t such a good idea.
Instead, the Eagles coaches have sacrificed not only an MVP-caliber season from their quarterback but also potential games if Gardner Minshew can’t win over the next couple of weeks.
The Eagles have not locked up the top seed in the NFC playoffs, nor have they locked up the division. If Minshew struggles in replacement for Hurts and forces the franchise QB back early than he needs to, all we have to do is go back to Chicago and understand just how the Eagles coaching staff screwed up.
Running their quarterback is fine. Giving their quarterback the option to run is fine. But when you do it as much as the Eagles depended on it Sunday, you’re tempting fate in the worst possible way.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum