Now that the dust has settled on the Eagles decision to turn to rookie Quarterback Jalen Hurts, we need to examine some realistic expectations for him for the remaining quarter of the season. Carson Wentz heads to the bench in favor of the 53rd pick in this past April’s draft. Head coach Doug Peterson benched Wentz in the third quarter of the Eagles 30–16 loss against the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday. Hurts went 5-12 for 109 yards with 1 Touchdown and 1 Interception in the loss. Let’s look at the offense in bits and pieces, and circle back to what we can expect with Hurts running the show the rest of the way in 2020.
Offensive Line Struggles
A Quarterback can only be as effective as his Offensive Line allows him to be. Heading into this Sunday’s game against the Saints, theundeoppables.com has the Eagles O-Line ranked 26th out of 32 teams. An even more depressing ranking of 30th in the NFL when passing the ball accompanies the above mentioned grade. Let us not forget that the Eagles have used at least 10 different starting Offensive Line combinations this season. Philadelphia’s line has given up 53 sacks and 141 pressures allowed, both most in the NFL so far this year. Jamon Brown… nuff said. In all seriousness, Hurts may end up being a sitting duck in the pocket just as Carson has been. One thing Hurts has going for him is his ability to extend plays with him legs. He most certainly will need to tap into that magic playing with one of the worst Offensive Lines in the league.
Below average Pass Catching Targets
Let’s step away from the Offensive Line for a minute and speak on Receivers. Par for the course with the Eagles in this season and in seasons past, is the lack of quality pass catching targets for the Quarterback. With an offense that has attempted to rely so heavily on the air attack, the results have been below average to say the least. The Eagles rank 28th in Passing Yards this season. Let’s take wideout Travis Fulgham for instance. The teams leading receiver has just 4 catches for 32 Yards since the Week 9 bye. How does one go from leading the league in receiving yards, to subsequently useless in such a short period of time? As it stands today, Philly does not have a 500 yard receiver so far in 2020. The Eagles inability to create separation in route running has lead to receivers being rendered ineffective in this Offense. When Greg Ward is leading your team in receptions, it tells you all you need to know. As Jalen Hurts acclimates himself to the offense, the inconsistency of receiver play could hinder any success he wishes to have.
The Conntinued Abandonment of the Run Game
This teams use, or misuse, of Miles Sanders and company has been borderline criminal. The old adage “establish the run” has gone by the wayside for the Eagles in 2020. Sanders has not eclipsed 20 carries in a game so far this season. Yet, when Miles does tout the rock, he’s doing so at 5.3 yards per carry. Though Sanders has had his issues with dropping passes, the offenses lack of a screen game and completions out of the backfield have been staggering. Sanders hauled in 50 receptions last season, compared to just 19 so far in 2020. Dispute the lack of running the ball, Philadelphia ranks 2nd in the league in average yards per carry with 5.0. For a rookie Quarterback stepping into the fire, a solid, established running game can do wonders. As the games go on, will we see the same odd abandonment of the run game?
A rookie Quarterback with no Offseason and Preseason. A player who had to transfer from Alabama to seek out playing time in college. A rabid fan base that truly lives up to the “what have you done for me lately” mentality. The odds are surely stacked against the young man from Houston, Texas. Eagles fans have seen first hand how poorly Carson Wentz played in his 12 games in 2020. Ranking first in turnovers in the NFL, a move had to be made to attempt to salvage the season. As the franchise hands the keys to over to Hurts, the deficiencies within the offense are glaring. Whether it’s the Offensive Lines woes in protection of the Quarterback, lack of consistent pass catching, a downright stale Offensive playbook or the lack of a solid rushing attack, one has to think that Hurts may struggle just as Wentz has this year. Bottom line is, don’t expect Jalen Hurts to be the savior the Eagles need to save the season. With an offense with this many issues, no Quarterback will be able to right the ship for the Eagles in 2020.
The Eagles get their first look at Jalen Hurts in his new starting role this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints boast a top 5 defense with former Safety Malcolm Jenkins who is all too familiar with the Eagles offense.
Header Pic Credit
(Credit: PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 18: Jalen Hurts #2 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field on October 18, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)