The Eagles defeated their division rival Sunday night despite another less-than-stellar 2nd half. This is a real thing now, huh?
Dominating the first 30 minutes has masked some issues for the Eagles this season. Two very big ones come to mind.
First, Jalen Hurts is still not a great passer. The Eagles are doing that thing again where a majority of pass plays are from an RPO or some kind of play fake that has manipulated the defense into leaving a receiver open. This is all well and good, of course. An open receiver is the obvious goal of any offense. However, as defenses key in on the Eagles concepts and tendencies, those open receivers are fewer and the success of the RPO dwindles.
This is normal. Football is a game of adjustments. Unfortunately, Jalen Hurts, despite the media attention and fan adoration, is not yet an elite (or even great) passer. There are few moments in the game where the Eagles drop Hurts in the pocket, let him read a defense, go through his progressions, and find the open receiver.
Yes, that’s right… this is the same Hurts as last year, but with better weapons. It’s a terrifying reality. The Eagles were exposed in the playoffs because of Hurts’ inabilities as a true passer. It doesn’t mean Hurts stinks or isn’t a starting caliber quarterback. No, Hurts is a fine QB, but as of right now, he can’t carry the offense through the air.
This is why the running game has been – and must continue to be – the Eagles bread-and-butter. In each of their last three victories, the Eagles have come up with a dominating, we’re-better-than-you game-clinching drive via the running game. Hurts doesn’t have to be a great passer for the Eagles to win this season. The ground game can get them wherever they need to go. An effective ground attack also opens up more opportunities for Hurts and the aerial attack. Nick Sirianni simply can’t forget it.
And now we’ve arrived to the second issue. Sirianni’s adjustments to the opponent’s adjustments have been underwhelming. The Eagles didn’t score a touchdown after the 1st quarter in Arizona. They looked even worse against Dallas until their game-sealing 4th quarter drive. Defensive coaches get paid, too. The Eagles won’t be able to RPO their way to victory for 60 minutes week in and week out.
To his credit, Sirianni eventually caught up in both Arizona and at home last week, but it can’t take most of the 2nd half if the Eagles want to have success in the postseason. Cooper Rush is a backup QB and he had the Eagles on the ropes for a moment Sunday night. The only reason the Eagles found themselves in that situation was because the offense again lost its way.
Run the ball.
Run the ball.
And then run it some more.
Sirianni doesn’t need to make extravagant adjustments if he simply decides to let his big dogs eat. I’ll say it again, the offensive line – not Jalen Hurts – is the Eagles ticket to the Super Bowl.
Thursday Night Pick; Cardinals -2