Eagles Evaluation: Birds Play Hurts As They Drop Another Game

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles flew into Green Bay hoping to pick up some more magic just as they did in 2019.

Instead, the team began furthering itself into a QB controversy, at least among fans.

For the first time all season, Hurts was given the opportunity to play for more than a snap at a time. For the first time, he proved he actually has an arm capable of releasing a ball into the air.

It looked good on the stat sheets, but he faced a prevent defense nearly his entire time, leading to easy completions and a punt return touchdown making it seem like Hurts really sparked the team.

While it would be good for Hurts to see some more drives to himself, he remains unproven. Still players like Michael Jacquet, Jack Driscoll, Jordan Mailata and Nate Herbig got to see some pleying time in this one, a critical update for a team that needs to be looking for future contributors.

Personnel Changes

  • Jalen Hurts replaced Carson Wentz in the second half and showed some building blocks.
  • For some reason, Alshon Jeffery was the second-most used receiver in this game, taking snaps primarily from Travis Fulgham and also from John Hightower to some extent.
  • The right side of the line saw Jack Driscoll draw the start in this semi-youth movement. Though Jason Peters started at right guard, he was pulled for Nate Herbig. Officially, the news was due to an injury, but Peters has been hurt all season and it would not be a surprise they pulled him just because he isn’t as good as Herbig.

  • Unsurprisingly, Ertz drew the start at tight end. This meant Richard Rodgers barely saw the field. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it could make the former Packer cost less to re-sign while simultaneously raise the trade value of Ertz.
  • Jordan Howard was far more active than would be expected and was basically even with Sanders and Scott on the depth chart.
  • The only major changes on defense came in the secondary where Maddox and Slay were injured. Maddox came back out, but the Slay injury did lead to snaps for Michael Jacquet, who was not really targeted, though the Packers were more of a running offense at that point in the game.
  • With TJ Edwards getting injured, Duke Riley got the majority of his snaps. K’Von Wallace also saw the field with that injury and the departure of Will Parks.

Stock Evaluations

Buy: Jalen Reagor

After Jalen Hurts entered the game, Reagor was the benefactor of a major 34-yard completion. He did not get much separation, but it was enough for the NFL and that’s a throw Wentz can complete any other year. If he can keep doing that and, hopefully, improve on his ability to run routes and separate, he has a bright future and 1,000-yard seasons are not out of the question. Showing his explosive abilities further were an 11-yard end around in the run game and a 73-yard punt return touchdown. Unfortunately, the return was after he muffed a punt again (which is why Ward has been back there most of the season – he doesn’t muff punts), but the explosiveness and control to recover it were good signs. With better quarterback play, Reagor might be having a season similar to DeSean’s rookie year, but Reagor has shown more strength and ability to play through contact.

Sell: Alshon Jeffery

Laughing for being called with offensive PI. That was his contribution to the team. Clearly well worth the $15 million in cap hit he is costing. God thing he is leaching snaps all game. Even if Hightower has made his QB look worse than simply throwing the ball away all season, it behooves the Eagles to give him time to try and work that out now as they fight for a top pick rather than when they hope to compete.

Buy: Javon Hargrave

Hargrave had just two official tackles (one for loss) and a sack on Sunday afternoon, but he was routinely moving the pocket and forcing runners/Rodgers to move to one side of the field. He has largely been a disappointment to the team, particularly early, for what they paid for him, but if he plays at this pace and can continue to improve, he can really become a fixture along the Eagles’ defensive line.

Sell: Avonte Maddox

Similar to Alshon Jeffery, there is no reason Maddox should be playing at outside corner. Every pass his way winds up with him 10 or more yards away from the catch. The only PBU he had was a play against Adams where he took the wrong route to get backup. He also missed an INT and instead allowed a completion in support of Darius Slay. Michael Jacquett and, when healthy, Craig James deserve a shot at playing outside corner from here on out. Maddox should only see snaps at safety or in the slot moving forward to see if there is any reason to keep him around in 2021.

Buy: Nate Herbig

Herbig is by no means perfect, but he was absolutely better than Jason Peters. He has been arguably the Eagles best guard this season (with Seumalo missing a lot of time) and it showed again tonight. His being in the game was part of the reason that Hurts was able to perform better than Wentz was, no doubt.

Sell: Alex Singleton

Singleton lead the team again with another 12 tackles, but he allowed two 20+ yard completions in this game. While he had been pretty solid in coverage previously, this was certainly not his best game. It could also be argued he should have had safety help over the top in both scenarios, but he cannot let the receivers get the kind of separation they did behind him on each of the plays in question.

Sell: Jalen Hurts

Hurts was by no means amazing, but simply by virtue of showing some ability to throw a ball rather than just run a QB draw was enough to raise his stock. Overall, he showed good running ability and the ability to scramble using good pocket awareness. He had five rushes for 29 yards and 12 passes (just five completions) for 109 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception. The fact that Hurts was a benefactor of playing a prevent defense as well as some wide-open receivers and an improved line makes it difficult to evaluate his play, but certainly his successfully assisted with the latter two factors in some way. The Eagles will need to play him at other times to properly compare him to Wentz – and it can’t always be late when the defense is playing prevent.

Sideline Chatter

  • The Eagles need to stick with Herbig as the team could not only get Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson and Andre Dillard back in 2021, but if they have viable options in Herbig, Driscoll and Mailata by the end of the year, they will have three starting-caliber guards and four starting-caliber tackles before the draft even without considering the likes of players like Prince Tega Wanogho, Brett Toth or Matt Pryor. The team could then focus on other areas and potentially trade some OL depth to welcome some newer promising prospects with additional control to save money long term.
  • A startling lack of rollouts was again a problem in this game. From this game, it appears Hurts was also more efficient while moving around. This means that no matter who the Eagles put out there, the play calling still needs to change.
  • Speaking of rollouts and moving, the way Hurts played really displayed how poorly Wentz is feeling and navigating pressure this season. The sacks that are his fault were obvious, but the plays like the touchdown throw from Hurts are ones that highlight the plays being left out there by Wentz’s inability to navigate as he once did. Instead of feeling the pressure and moving with his eyes downfield for an amazing throw, he is looking at the pressure he’s getting rather than downfield, so he can’t process the field as he scrambles. The Eagles need to fix that in order to fix him.
  • The value of Greg Ward, who also appeared to be a top target who Hurts deemed reliable, cannot be understated. He routinely proves how valuable he is despite not skill that is particularly outstanding. Teams need reliable receivers and not every single one needs to be DeVante Adams.

Team Focus

The Birds play another 4:25 game next Sunday, this time looking to worsen their draft position against the Saints, who are the top team in the NFC.

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