While the Eagles came up short to the Arizona Cardinals, 33-26, on Sunday, rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts provided enough flashes of brilliance to inspire the team’s QB controversy to continue for the remainder of the season and beyond.
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Hurts was dynamic as he led four scoring drives in a back-and-forth battle. Flashing plenty of potential as a passer and using his mobility as a complementary weapon, Hurts looked like the QB the Eagles have been waiting for all season.
Despite starting off with a 16-point deficit, Hurts was undeterred by the moment and led the Eagles on an offensive gold rush in the second quarter — eventually tying the game in the third. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score, as the Eagles came roaring back against the Cardinals.
At this point, it’s not only evident that Hurts should own the starting QB job for the rest of the season, but he should also be in the discussion for a QB competition — at the very least — next summer. Hurts looks the part of an exciting young QB with tremendous upside, and he clearly inspires the rest of his teammates.
Before the game, a report by ESPN claimed Carson Wentz wouldn’t be happy taking a backset to Hurts and would seek a trade if that were to happen. Well, at this point, that scenario looks like a real possibility. And frankly, after this performance in the desert, the fan base might be hankering for more Hurts for the foreseeable future.
Hurts completed 24-of-44 passes (54.5%) for 338 passing yards and three touchdowns. He led four scoring drives and ran for 63 rushing yards on 11 carries. He also took a safety — due to penalty – when he was called for intentional grounding on the Eagles’ first drive.
Down 16-0 in the first quarter, the Eagles needed a big play to get their offense going. After completing a 10-yard pass to Jalen Reagor, Hurts decided to air it out for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The veteran wide receiver was able to somehow keep his feet inbounds as he hauled in a beautiful rainbow floater from Hurts, who put it right on the money. The completion went for a 24-yard gain. A few plays later, the Eagles would score their first points off a 32-yard screen toss from Hurts to Quez Watkins for a touchdown.
Spreading the Ball Around Grade
Hurts spread the ball around immediately against Arizona. Prior to halftime, Hurts had completed passes to eight different receivers for 177 yards and three touchdowns. He had just 17 completions for 167 passing yards in his first start against the New Orleans Saints.
Hurts’ top target was Reagor, who caught five passes for 49 yards on eight throws. Jeffery caught two passes for 63 yards on three targets.
Hurts was off a few throws to Reagor in the first half, but was otherwise very accurate during the first two quarters. His ball placement on downfield heaves was impressive, as he connected on seven completions of 10 or more yards. He finished the first half with a completion ratio of 12 of 18 (66.6%) for 177 yards and three touchdowns.
In the second half, Hurts kept his composure and continued to target receivers down the field. He finished with a 54.5 completion percentage against the Cardinals.
While Hurts was more of a passer against the Cardinals, his mobility in the pocket was evident. He was able to escape the pocket and make several throws on the move. He was able to step up behind the line of scrimmage because he rolled out of pressure regularly.
His most impressive run came on a 17-yard scramble on fourth-and-6 in the third quarter. He crossed up a pair of defenders before picking up the first-down conversion to keep their drive alive. On the same drive, he picked up a game-tying touchdown on a seven-yard scramble.
He picked up 63 yards and a touchdown with 11 carries.
Decision Making/Turnover Grade
Hurts didn’t get off to a great start. He was whistled for an intentional grounding penalty within the 10-yard line on the Eagles’ first offensive series. That penalty led to a safety and two points for the Cardinals. It was a momentum killer after the Eagles forced a fumble and recovered the ball on the Cardinals’ first drive.
Otherwise, Hurts was pretty sharp. He did have a pair of fumbles that were recovered by the offense, though.
Hurts was electric on Sunday. He was fearless in the passing game, repeatedly testing the Cardinals’ secondary deep. He spread the ball around like Santa Claus in the desert while still using his mobility to keep plays and drives alive. His performance against Arizona was easily the most inspired outing for an Eagles QB all season. He was accurate, efficient, quick on the ground and careful with the ball. This is why the Eagles selected him in the second round of April’s NFL Draft.
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