By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
Coming off the upset victory over the New Orleans Saints and officially staring down a potential quarterback controversy with Jalen Hurts passing for over 150 yards and rushing for over 100 yards in his first NFL start. Also, reports emerging of Carson Wentz not willing to play the backup role and upset with the way things went down in Philadelphia. Oh and let’s not forget our secondary is banged up as bad as our offensive line and we were heading into a matchup with Deandre Hopkins without our top corner, Darius Slay. So here we go Eagles versus Cardinals, both teams heading into the matchup with massive playoff implications.
The first half started out with some ugly plays that got Eagles fans on the edge of their seats like the Jalen Hurts safety, a bonehead Derek Barnett unnecessary roughness penalty and a blocked Cam Johnston punt. All of this leading to a 16-0 Cardinals lead, but then we saw an Eagles team that we really haven’t seen in the last two seasons and Jalen Hurts marched the Eagles back to a 26-20 half time score behind three Jalen Hurts touchdowns, two to Greg Ward and one to Quez Watkins.
So could the second half bring something similar? There were some ballsy play calls sprinkled throughout the second half by both teams as the teams went back and forth. The Eagles had a key interception in the end zone that led them on the only touchdown drive of the half by Jalen Hurts and the Eagles going 80 yards and finishing with the 7 yard Hurts scramble. The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 26 setting up an exciting finish to a very exciting game that did not fail to disappoint in the Murray versus Hurts showdown.
Kyler Murray was able to deliver a nice pass to Deandre Hopkins with just over seven minutes to go in the game, and boy was it a beauty of a catch by Hopkins with Jacquet all over him. The Eagles would take their time with a methodical march down the field that led the Eagles within the two minute warning before back to back third and fourth down and 21 plays to Goedert which one hit the ground and the other was knocked down on a high point play. The Cardinals would run it three times before punting back to the Eagles for a true final two minute drill to make Hurts a hero in Philadelphia. Two final heaves of the ball and ultimately the Eagles finished with a heartbreaking 33-26 loss.
Jalen Hurts is truly making not just a quarterback controversy, but maybe running away with the starting quarterback job, fresh off the Eagles giving Wentz a brand new contract. Wentz struggled much of the season with these same weapons and certainly from namesake a better offensive line then what Hurts has played with over the last two weeks. Jalen Hurts came out and showed he can do more than just run a football and could make his presence felt in the pocket going 22/44 for 338 yards and three TDs to go with eleven carries for 63 yards. Some garbage time heaving of the football led to the numbers being slightly skewed.
Greg Ward looks to be one of the favorite targets of Jalen Hurts and is effective when targeted. Ward in the last two weeks has six receptions on 10 targets for 35 yards and two touchdowns. Ward was a key weapon last year when the Eagles wide receivers were really bad and he has proven an effective slot weapon when utilized by both Wentz and Hurts. Could be interesting to see what further development and chemistry comes between Ward and Hurts going forward.
Another good that needs to be addressed briefly is how great of a game Jim Schwartz called on defense! Jim Schwartz has caught some unnecessary flack this season for certain situations when the offense was not producing at all and the game rested on the defense’s shoulder. He was methodical with his pressure, but did provide support to the front four when necessary and the front four performed very well in throwing Kyler Murray off despite only one sack, one quarterback hit. There was a lot of pressure in his face overall. He made the best of a tough situation in the secondary.
There was not much bad in this game, the Eagles had one of their better 60 minutes of football I have watched in a long time. I will drop this on the secondary, but we knew it could be ugly back there without Avonte Maddox, Rodney McLeod and Darius Slay. The Eagles secondary gave up a new career high in passing yards for Kyler Murray, which we expected bad, but this is next level bad, 406 yards on 27 pass completions and three receiving touchdowns. The leader of this pack was, without a surprise, Deandre Hopkins, making nine catches for 169 yards.
The offensive line looked good early, but started to fold as the game went on and started to look bad giving up six sacks and seven quarterback hits. But those stats only being two sacks and one QB hit at the end of the first half. The potential may be there and we will be seeing a lot more of this offensive line in the next two weeks, hopefully the first half offensive line makes more appearances.
Carson Wentz future in Philadelphia looks grimmer and grimmer as the weeks pass and on a week where the on-field performance overall was solid on both sides of the ball you can’t help but look at the guy who was the face of the franchise only 14 weeks ago. Jalen Hurts has shown he can run and he can pass and he can make things happen with the same weapons Carson Wentz couldn’t make that same connection with. The rumoured report is out there, Carson Wentz is owed large amounts of money and Jalen Hurts is coming as advertised if not better!