For weeks now, I have been lauding the play and demeanor of Jalen Hurts. He should still be the leader for NFL MVP.
After the loss on Monday night to the Commanders, we get a chance for Nick Sirianni’s mettle to finally be tested. Adversity almost always leads to opportunity. I think the Eagles will be fine, but there are many around the city who have been shaken up.
The Eagles didn’t lose on Monday because of Hurts’ play. The Eagles lost because they didn’t come out ready to play. That still partially falls on Hurts because he is the leader of the group (QBs get too much credit, but also too much blame), but it is far more on the coaching staff. Every critic of Johnathan Gannon is also in a way being critical of Sirianni. If he thinks Gannon is too passive, it is on the head coach to address it and get it fixed by Sunday against the Colts.
There is more adversity than just one loss of course. The injuries that come with an NFL season are slowly starting to mount up for the Eagles. Dallas Goedert who has been the best tight end in the NFC is now on the IR after a shoulder injury following a terrible missed facemask call. The Eagles didn’t lose because of the refs, but that missed play didn’t help.
As an aside, NFL refs are not good at their jobs. The back judge was looking directly at the Goedert facemask and missed it. It’s not just that they missed a personal foul, but a Pro Bowl level player was hurt on the same play. The refs were not remorseful after the game either. To just say, “we missed the facemask on the field” and not even mention how a player was unfortunately injured speaks to their lack of character and the league’s lack of accountability. People will say “they have a hard job,” but as I said on the radio, there is a long list of jobs harder than being an NFL referee that pay far worse. Human error is a part of sports, but the NFL doesn’t have the best humans doing it.
Back to the situation with the Eagles. Jordan Davis, who is also on IR, was missed on Monday, and now DT Marlon Tuipulotu is also out at least four weeks. With Gannon’s scheme leaking oil without his top personnel, it will be that much more added pressure on Sirianni to keep the train on the tracks with the schedule getting slightly tougher due to stylistic matchups.
If the Eagles are vulnerable to the run — and it appears they are — the running backs are getting more talented the next few weeks. If you fear the Eagles’ issues against the run, the best way to remedy that right now is to get a lead early. While Shane Steichen has taken over play calling duty, Sirianni is an offense first guy, and he has to be razor sharp to continue to get ahead and they must do it without Goedert.
Last year there was zero pressure on the Eagles after their slow start. They were able to rally and make the playoffs. Sirianni thrived and even when fans (me) didn’t understand his fertilizer messaging, the locker room did.
This year the circumstances are different. Washington celebrated like they won the Super Bowl after beating the Eagles. The Colts will approach the game the exact same way. Jeff Saturday will be preaching that they must go take out Goliath. The Eagles are now the hunted and will have to respond to that with a better mental approach than they did on Monday night.
Sirianni’s style has worked so far, and I think it will continue to work, but it will be fascinating to see how he adjusts his messaging now that they have a loss on the ledger. The road to a Super Bowl is never easy. Let’s see how Nick Sirianni responds on Sunday.