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Eagles have much to fix after lackluster offensive performance


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Eagles have much to fix after lackluster offensive performance

The Eagles won their season opener but Jalen Hurts and the offense didn't look very good.

By Reuben Frank, Eagles Insider  Published September 11, 2023


The explosive passing game? Never saw it.

The unpredictable ground attack? Never materialized.

The record-setting offense? We’re still waiting.

The Eagles hung on to win their season opener in New England Sunday, 25-20 over the Patriots Sunday, but offensively it was a clunker.

They managed just 251 yards of offense, had one offensive play over 16 yards, averaged less than 4.0 yards per run, failed to score a touchdown on their last 11 drives and didn’t have a play longer than 23 yards.

They averaged 28 points per game last year on offense and scored 18 Sunday. They averaged 389 yards last year and came up 138 yards shy of that. They gained 148 rushing yards per game last year but came up shy of 100 Sunday.

And so on.

"It’s always good to win, but it’s not good to play like that, and we are going to put a lot of work in to make corrections,” Jason Kelce said.

"We have a short week so it’s going to be sped up a bit. I think you’re always happy to win but you know we need to play a lot better than this if we are going to reach the potential and level of play we want this year.”

Coming off a record-setting offensive season, an unstoppable postseason, a Super Bowl near-miss and arguably the NFL’s greatest collection of skill players along with an elite offensive line, nobody expected 251 yards, one offensive touchdown, no big plays and a three-hour slog at Gillette Stadium in the season opener.

But that’s the reality.

Brian Johnson, in his first game as the Eagles’ play caller, was never able to get Jalen Hurts into a rhythm, and with Hurts out of sync, the whole offense looked out of sync.

The Eagles drove 61 yards for a field goal on their first drive and turned a short field after a takeaway into a touchdown on their second drive. They had eight first downs on those first two drives but just nine on their next 11. 

At one point, they netted two total yards of offense on five possessions.

Their only points in the game’s last 47 minutes were four Jake Elliott field goals – including a 48, a 51 and a 56.

Hurts threw for only 170 yards, ran for just 37 on nine carries and didn’t convert any of the seven third downs that were called pass plays. He had a potentially disastrous fumble with 3 ½ minutes left deep in Eagles territory.

His longest completion was a 23-yarder to A.J. Brown with 9 ½ minutes left in the game. It was only the fourth time in his 39 career starts he didn’t have a completion for at least 25 yards.

He wasn’t awful. Had a nice TD pass to DeVonta Smith in the first quarter. But he sure didn’t look like an MVP candidate.

"Winning is the only thing that matters and that's something that I've always said,” Hurts said. "And so that is the mentality right now. That will always be the mentality. I think we obviously have things that we need to work on and have to be better in those situations when the ball is in my hands, and I take full accountability for that.”

Yeah, it was raining. And yeah that’s one of the NFL’s best defensive minds on the opposite sideline. And yeah, you never want to give Bill Belichick an entire offseason to prepare for a game.

But this was still a very disappointing Day 1 for this new Eagles offense.

"Bill Belichick-coached team, it's going to be well-coached, and I thought that's exactly what it was,” said Nick Sirianni, now 3-0 on opening day. "Now, was it our cleanest performance offensively? No. We have a lot of mistakes to clean up and we’ve got a short time to do so.

"But, shoot, I thought that we just didn’t finish some drives. We got in a rut a little bit in the second quarter and didn't finish some drives late in the game.”

Dallas Goedert didn’t catch a pass and had just one target – in the fourth quarter. D’Andre Swift had one carry and one catch for no yards. Rashaad Penny wasn’t even active.

"I don't ever want to come out of a game where D'Andre Swift has only two touches," Sirianni said.

It was only Johnson’s first game as an NFL play caller and it was against one of the greatest coaches ever, but the offense looked predictable and unimaginative.

The Eagles try again Thursday night at the Linc against the Vikings.

"I thought he called a great game,” Sirianni said of Johnson. "I thought he made some adjustments in the second half to throw it a little bit more knowing that we were struggling in the running game. 

"If we throw it 20 times in a row, that's because we think that's the right thing to do. If we run it 20 times in a row, it's because we think that's the right thing to do, and that's conviction. I thought Brian had conviction today.”


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