By Dylan MacKinnon
Even though the Eagles lost, that was still potentially one of their better games all season. It started out iffy, with a safety, a blocked punt, and going down multiple scores. But a strong performance out of Jalen Hurts had them within one score in the last possession. They fell short, losing 33-26. The loss bumps them down to last place in the NFC East. But a difference in this loss, is there are positives to take away.
Again the story will be the play of Hurts. Last week he looked good not great, and was more impactful with his legs than his arm. But this week it was his arm doing most of the work. The Eagles seem to have a legit QB controversy, and Hurts is playing his way into the drivers seat.
Let’s take a look at 5 numbers that tell the story of not only this game, but the season as a whole, as well as their future.
The Eagles put up 20 points in the first half of the game for the first time all season. Coming into the game, they averaged 8.8 pts per game in the first half. That was 29th in the league. The offense did get off to a slow start, scoring 0 in the first quarter, but a surge in the 2nd quarter along with some good field position got the offense moving. Hurts had 3 TDs in that quarter, with two going to Greg Ward. The first half could have been real ugly. They could have entered the locker rooms at half in a hole too deep to get out of. But Hurts and the offense did well to keep it a one score game. For what its worth, Wentz has 5 first half TDs all season, and Hurts had 3 in this game.
The Eagles scored only 6 points in the second half. This a repeat after the Eagles scored only 7 pts in the second half last week vs the Saints. Two weeks is not a pattern, but its something to keep an eye on. What is the reason for the offense slowing down in the second half two weeks in a row? Hard to say. It would be unfair to put that on Hurts, as on screen it didn’t appear he was struggling in the 2nd half. More likely it could be Doug’s play-calling, or the opposing defense adjusting to the first half game-plan.
Hurts finished the game with 3 passing touch downs, all came in the first half. Wentz has had 0 games this season with 3tds. He had 7 games with two TDs, two with one, and three with zero. The struggles of the offense are not all on Wentz, but it’s impossible to say they haven’t looked like a different offense with Jalen Hurts under center. It could be the backup QB factor, it could be the lack of tape on Hurts, or maybe Hurts is just that much better.
Whatever the reason, Hurts has this looking like a completely different offense. And after he has the offense running smoothly two weeks in a row, it will be tough to argue against him keeping the job next year. Though there is another number that complicates that that we will get to later. But the point remains Hurts has looked very good for a rookie thrown onto a dysfunctional roster.
A number Eagles fans by now are all too familiar with. If the Eagles could trade Wentz before the 3rd day of the new league year, that is their dead cap hit. It would be the largest dead cap hit ever. If they can’t move him by then, it’s a 59.2 million to move him, and they would also be on the hook for the cap hit in 2022. The only chance they can even think about moving him is if they can do so before that third day, and that would still be a unruly cap hit. Eagle could be stuck with Wentz even if they make Hurts the starter. That would be a very expensive backup.
After today’s loss, and the Cowboys and Chargers wins, the Eagles draft stock improves to 7th overall. With a win they might have fallen to as high as 13th in the draft. With two games left, the best pick the Eagles could end up with is 3rd overall, but that would require the Bengals winning out. A more realistic best case scenario for their draft stock is 4th overall, of which they are only half a game out of. The Panthers, Falcons, and Texans are all ahead of them for now with 4 wins and 10 losses. If the Eagles lose out, and each of those 3 go 1-1, they can get to 4th. If the Eagles manage to win the division though they could end up at 19th overall. Even without winning the division they could end up 16th overall by winning out yet still missing the playoffs.