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Jalen Hurts' budding chemistry with DeVonta Smith provides Eagles with hope amid another loss


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Jalen Hurts' budding chemistry with DeVonta Smith provides Eagles with hope amid another loss

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    Tim McManus, ESPN Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA -- It feels odd highlighting the success of two Philadelphia Eagles players following their third straight loss, but the most significant development to come out of Sunday's 42-30 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) might just be the play of quarterback Jalen Hurts and rookie receiver DeVonta Smith.

This season, after all, is more about the big picture for Philadelphia (1-3). It's about identifying core players for the future, establishing a foundation and figuring out whether Hurts is a QB you can tether your franchise to.

The answers won't be found in one game, but there were some encouraging signs. Hurts went 32-of-48 for 387 yards with a pair of touchdowns, and had three more touchdown passes called back because of penalties. Smith, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2021 draft, was the culprit on one of those -- he stepped out of bounds on a route down the left sideline, negating a long TD reception -- but finished with seven catches for 122 yards on 10 targets. It was his first game of 100-plus yards in his young career.

"That's one of the better quarterback performances I've seen, and I've been around a lot of good quarterbacks with Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck," coach Nick Sirianni said of Hurts on Sunday. "He battled. He made good decisions with the football. He got out of trouble when there was trouble. He made good checks, he made good reads. That's the best I've seen him in practice, that's the best I've seen him in a game since I've been here."


Hurts has had two strong games -- against the Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons -- to go with two down games against the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. He has been lights out this season in the quick-rhythm pass game. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, 30 of his 48 passes Sunday traveled 5 yards or fewer through the air, the most in a game in his career.

He was still able to generate some chunk plays, including three to Smith that netted 20-plus yards. Smith, like Hurts, cooled the previous two weeks following a solid game against Atlanta, but rebounded Sunday, showing off the silky route-running and body control that helped him win the Heisman Trophy.

"It's all a credit to the team, us just getting better each week," Smith said. "The little things we're leaving out there we can correct."

Hurts, 23, has emerged as one of the primary leaders on this team. When defensive end Brandon Graham was lost to an Achilles rupture in Week 2, Eagles players turned their eyes to Hurts, encouraging him to step into the middle of the players circle. After Sunday's loss, Hurts felt compelled to address the team, stressing the importance of continuing to believe and continuing to develop.

"We're clearly not there as a football team because we lost, but we're this close. We're this close," said Hurts. "We're not a finished product. No player on this team is a finished product. But it's about believing in that and continuing to grow and learn from everything that you do."


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We seem to have some promising young pieces on offense ... Hurts flashes ... just needs to correct a few things and become more consistent (and work on accuracy), Smith, Gainwell, Watkins, Goedert.  They also have a few young OL that have potential to be decent starters.  It is the defense that really needs attention.  Hopefully Howie uses all those high picks wisely next April to add elite prospects to several positions of need on that side of the ball (DE, CB, LB, S) where we lack impact players (and with regard to the secondary which is loaded with aging vets serving as band aids).  

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