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Eagles Survive, Now 2-0


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Eagles Survive, Now 2-0

Posted: September 15th, 2023 | Author: Tommy Lawlor

The Eagles on on Thursday, making them 2-0. That’s great. Jalen Hurts and the offense were wildly inconsistent again, which is not so great.

Talking about the Eagles right now is complicated. There were times last night when they looked dominant. They ran for 259 yards. Kirk Cousins took a beating, with 10 official QB hits. They led 27-7 and the game was on the verge of being a blowout.

Didn’t happen. Injuries to the back seven made the defense vulnerable to the passing game. When Cousins wasn’t on his backside, he was shredding the defense. He threw for 364 yards and 4 TDs. The Eagles just couldn’t put Minnesota away.

The Eagles will get some players back so you feel like the defense will improve. The bigger concern right now is Hurts and the offense. They were expected to be a dominant unit. Hurts was expected to play like a star. After two weeks, Hurts has 363 passing yards and 2 TDs, 72 rushing yards and 2 TDs. There is nothing remotely special about those numbers.

What happened?

The first two opponents had all offseason to plan for the Eagles offense. Bill Belichick and Brian Flores came up with creative schemes that took away Hurts as a runner. They also are keeping DBs back and forcing the Eagles to play small-ball. That requires Hurts to be a pocket QB. He needs to make quick reads and throw the ball short and intermediate.

Nick Sirianni wants chunk plays. Hurts wants chunk plays. They don’t always have the patience to matriculate the ball down the field (as the legendary Hank Stram would say).

Last night Sirianni or Brian Johnson quit trying to force things and just went with the running game. Over and over. The Eagles ran the ball. D’Andre Swift was brilliant, going 28-175-1. That was the best game of his career. Swift was brilliant at reading blocks and then bursting up the field. He also ran through arm tackles.

Give the Eagles OL a lot of credit. They didn’t play well in the opener. They were much better last night, especially when the coaches focused on the running game. They got movement and gave the RBs room to run.

It was great that the Eagles came up with an answer like that last night, but you can’t always just turn into a college team from 1971. The Pats and Vikings had creative defenses that gave the Eagles fits. Other teams will try to copy their ideas. The coaches didn’t have much prep time for the Vikings so we didn’t get to see a lot of adjustments from the opener. They now have 10 days to come up with solutions before facing the Bucs in Week 3.

Hurts and the coaches will study the tape to see what he did poorly and where he needs to improve. He just hasn’t looked comfortable so far. He drops back and it feels like he’s quick to bail. Teams are rushing him creatively so Hurts isn’t finding good running lanes.

Decision-making is a major problem. Hurts INT came when he forced the ball into coverage. He took a pair of sacks late in the game that cost the Eagles a FG and put them in a position where they could lose. Hurts says all he wants to do is win, but those plays were key mistakes where he was careless. You can’t have that. He’s got to play smarter. He did that last year and the offense was a juggernaut. He’s clearly frustrated and it has lead to sloppy play.

I think a week of practice will help Hurts and the offense. They just had walkthroughs with the short week leading up to TNF. That’s not great for solving problems.

It is absolutely fair to be concerned about Hurts right now. This offense is built around him. If he’s not playing at a high level, the offense is going to be inconsistent. I don’t think this is a case where defenses have solved him and he’s going to fade, but he has to show he can overcome the defenses that are being thrown at him. Hurts hasn’t done that so far.

The key was for the Eagles to get through the first two weeks at 2-0 and then to have time to identify problems and finally to have the time to solve them. They did accomplish that.

The defense just needs to get some dudes back. The middle of the D was going to be an issue with the projected starters. When injuries forced backups into those roles, things got worse. You can see real potential in the defense. I’m optimistic that this group will get it going sooner rather than later. Josh Sweat was awesome last night.

It is hard to make too much of the coaching on either side of the ball because of the short week. We’ll get better answers on that after Week 3.

I am concerned about Nick Sirianni making one horrible decision last night. The Eagles had just scored a TD and were up 33-21. I yelled at the TV about going for it. Sirianni kicked the extra point to make it 34-21. What the heck was that? A 13-point lead doesn’t do you any good late in the game. Go for 2. You’re either up 12 or 14. 12 is still a two-possession lead. Go up 14 and you feel really good. Critical mistake for a coach who is normally really good at managing game situations.

Minnesota scored late to make it 34-28, but didn’t get the ball back until the final seconds. Thankfully that just led to a long incompletion.

It was a lot of fun to see the Eagles run the ball like they did. Consider me a Swiftie after that performance by D’Andre. He was so good. Kenny who?

The Eagles have issues to fix and now they’ve got time to fix them. Don’t lose sight of the fact they’re 2-0. That’s critical when you consider that Dallas and SF will be battling for the top spot in the NFC. The team was able to find a way to win even when they didn’t have their A-game.

The players need to get some rest and get healthy. The coaches will be grinding over tape so that the offense we see in Tampa will look a lot different.


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