A playoff team they were not. It took roughly three minutes to establish that the Tampa Buccaneers were a superior football team to the Philadelphia Eagles. All the rest was postscript, as the Eagles fell to the Bucs 31-15 in a game that wasn’t even that close, and left Eagles fans optimistic but underwhelmed, as they question a number of big positions in the off season.
The biggest position being quarterback Jalen Hurts. Is he that good? Or did the Eagles rack up a servisible winning-streak against inferior opponents? Hurts played perhaps his worst game of the season, as his accuracy was erratic and his overall offensive focus seemed scattershot at best. Too often, Hurts under-threw his receivers. And too often, the Tampa Bay defense happily cleaned up the mess.
Where do we go from here? Hurts clearly isn’t the guy; he remains a stop gap in an otherwise intriguing season.
Hurts did all he could. He ran. He passed. He willed his team to win.
But there’s another aspect to this position, mirrored by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense. The Buccaneers didn’t do anything earth-shattering, but they played within themselves, and let Brady make plays when he needed to. Yesterday's game featured a pedestrian performance by Brady. Fortunately for the Bucs, that was all they needed from their once-in-a-lifetime quarterback.
On the other side of the football was Hurts. Pensive. Manic. Never finding his groove in a game that got away from the Eagles early.
Would a switch to backup quarterback Gardner Minshew in the second half have been the change of pace the Eagles desperately needed? Perhaps. But the Eagles stuck to their guns, and concluded their season woefully out of bullets.
Hurts is Hurts. He’s poor at reading defenses and he has a noodle arm. Yes, he hit some receivers in stride yesterday, but these were expected first-read targets. None of this truly matters, as the Birds got smoked on both sides of the ball.
As bad as Jalen Hurts was, backup quarterback Gardber Minshew might have been better. Or worse. Nobody knows. But with the season on the line, and Hurts imploding, Sirianni should have put in the wiley backup. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
But the Eagles stuck to their script and went out ugly.
And now we wonder again, should the Eagles pick up a quarterback in an upcoming draft in which they have three picks in the first round?
Hurts showed us just enough to make us want to see more. Or not.
It’s a season in which head coach Nick Sirianni battled back from the dead to give Eagles fans something to root for in the postseason. No doubt, Sirianni has cashed his check as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for another two seasons.
But who will the Eagles draft?
And how do we get past the wildcard game?
And beyond that?