Allow me to echo points others have made throughout the week before I get to something many of us may be ignoring because it Hurts too bad. Pun intended.
I need to get this BirdFeed up earlier in the week because all the good points have already been claimed. Since I don’t have much else to offer, allow me to run through the points I agree with before adding my own.
First, Kelee Ringo and Sydney Brown need more playing time. The defense was more physical with them on the field. We haven’t had a safety tackle like Brown since Malcolm Jenkins. I know Ringo pulled off the rarely seen double-bonus penalty, but he held his own in coverage. It was also nice to see a defender in the TV shot when the ball was thrown to his guy. We don’t get a lot of that.
Second, I’m glad AJ Brown called out his quarterback and the offense. Someone with a voice needed to do it. (The quote was given anonymously but I think the odds are on it being Brown.) This offense is ridiculously predictcable and lacks imagination.
Third, Hurts can’t seem to understand the offense or read the defense. Maybe both. This much is certain: In football, if you don’t fully understand the concepts and executions of your offense, then you will have no idea how to read the defense. You need to first know what you’re trying to do in order to read and exploit what the defense is doing. For example, on that 4th and 6, Hurts and the Eagles HAVE TO know the blitz is coming there. And they did. Unfortunately, Hurts didn’t unleash the football until it was too late and DeVonta Smith was tackled almost immediately four yards short of the sticks. Did Hurts not understand the concept? Did he forget it was 4th down? Why was he holding the football so long? The quicker that ball is in Smith’s hands the more time and space he has to get up field and the less time the defense has to recognize the play. It’s basic stuff here and Hurts is missing it.
I’m also not buying Brian Johnson’s talk about how the Eagles moved the ball but fumbles short-circuited the offense. The offense couldn’t do anything in the red zone (again), it couldn’t establish a running game, and it failed to challenge the defense by spreading the football around. D’Andre Swift has 3 receptions for 11 yards over the past three games. Outside of Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey, there isn’t a better receiving back than Swift. Where are our screens? Where are our 3rd and 4th receivers? Dating back to the first Dallas game, wide receivers after Brown and Smith have a total of nine catches for 98 yards and one touchdown in five games. Let’s compare those numbers to other teams with a top receiving duo over their last five games.
Dolphins: 12/152/1 TD
Bengals: 14/216/ 1 TD
Seahawks: 25/257/ 0
Cowboys: 25/359/ 3 TD
As you can see, the numbers outside of Dallas aren’t earth shattering. However, when you consider the Eagles played four of their last five without their top tight end it becomes even more concerning. Also, the Eagles trailed by multiple scores for most of the 2nd half the last two weeks and still no production. (Note: I did not count Tyler Boyd’s stats while Tee Higgins was out.) The ball must be spread out. Attack the defense from chalk to chalk.
For all the love Howie Roseman gets, he deserves a lot of criticism for how this season has played out. His moves have fallen flat. For the 2nd year in a row a midseason trade has done little to advance the team. He didn’t have a solid option for when Lane Johnson went down and it cost the Eagles the Jets game. His safety additions were all duds. His linebacker band-aids did not stop the bleeding one iota.
And then there’s Nick Sirianni. Who knows who actually chose the new coordinators but Sirianni has taken ownership. Both have been a disaster. The defense can’t get off the field on 3rd down and the offense produced one touchdown outside of garbage time in the two biggest games of the season. There are no simple fixes for what ails this team. They look beat. They look frustrated. They look shell-shocked.
Maybe the Giants-Cardinals-Giants slate is the right medicine. Maybe they get right, squeeze out the 2nd seed and get lucky and only have to beat one of Dallas or San Francisco. Though at this point, are those three games against the bottom of the NFC even a sure thing?
Hold on, I do have an original thought to offer… Do we need to stop being surprised when Hurts isn’t great in big games? Do we remember how we beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship last season? It wasn’t Hurts that won the game. It was the offensive line. In fact, Hurts was downright miserable that afternoon. He was 15/25 for 121 yards. The Eagles grinded that game out on the ground and pounded the best rushing defense. It wasn’t Hurts.
I’m not arguing Hurts is incapable of playing well in big games. He was outstanding in the Super Bowl minus a costly fumble. I’m just saying he isn’t Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady. We shouldn’t expect his best when it’s needed most. We have too many examples to the contrary. Dallas last season. San Francisco and Dallas in consecutive weeks this season. The Chiefs game last month. Even the Giants playoff game last year wasn’t a stellar performance. Maybe he gets there at some point. He’s still only 25. But for right now… it walks like a duck, it sounds like a duck, and we continue to pretend it’s a peacock.
Thursday Night Pick; Raiders -3