How Eagles QB Jalen Hurts can beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts takes on an underwhelming Cowboys defense on Monday Night Football. Can he elevate his team to a win over their rival?

Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts isn’t technically a rookie, but he’s only made six starts in his NFL career thus far. Early in his career, Hurts’ game as a passer is reminiscent of Dak Prescott’s (this week’s opponent). The Eagles’ offense looks a lot like those early Dallas Cowboys offenses, except more modern. We’ll get to that, but first, we must acknowledge how Hurts can help Philadelphia win this football game.

Jalen Hurts can change a game with his arm or feet

This is what you get from a mobile quarterback. The quarterback can change a game with his legs even when the passing attack is struggling. When that quarterback is as cerebral a runner as Hurts, it isn’t easy to defend.

In fact, Hurts currently looks like a top-10 quarterback in the NFL, at least according to some advanced analytical metrics. Even though he completed just 52.2% of his passes on Sunday, his 14.5-yard average target depth was nearly five times what the Philadelphia offense looked like in Week 1.

The deep target share lends itself to a lower completion percentage. He currently has the 13th-highest CPOE on both Next Gen Stats and Ben Baldwin’s site. Additionally, only five quarterbacks add more points per play than Hurts. That is the value of his rushing ability.

His 8.5 yards per carry is the best mark in the NFL for anyone with over 5 carries. This is a combination of a heavy, heavy dose of read-option looks and scrambles.

If your defense wants to play man coverage against Hurts, they’re going to have a bad time!

It also can thwart the efforts of the pass rush. If they don’t maintain their rush lanes, Hurts will pick up as many yards as he pleases until someone in the secondary can run him out of bounds.

Another way to defend him would be to use a spy. Micah Parsons seems like an ideal candidate for that role. The problem is that it takes a defender both out of the initial rush plan or pass coverage.

Jalen Hurts is not afraid to sling it

Hurts’ 14.5 aDOT in Week 2 should be evidence enough. Hurts isn’t the most consistent downfield passer as of yet, but he’s made multiple big-time throws so far in 2021, and they’ve been attacking deep downfield.

In Week 2, Hurts threw 5 passes of 35+ yards downfield. Three of those were just shy or past 50 air yards, meaning that Cowboys’ defensive backs have to respect it.

And if there is one thing Eagles receivers can do well, it’s run really fast in a straight line. Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor are both 4.4x or quicker, and DeVonta Smith has never had trouble separating downfield or elevating for a catch.

All it takes is one or two big plays to change the course of a game.

This is about as tight a window as you’ll find against a zone defense. I’m not in Hurts’ head, so I don’t know if he knew he could fit this in or if he thought 38 was going to carry vertically. Either way, this is a courageous decision.

Hurts isn’t going to shy away from making throws. That can lead to mistakes, but when the aggressiveness works, it can allow for the quarterback of an outmatched team to shove his squad to the finish line.

Cowboys must dare Eagles QB to attack middle of the field

How Eagles QB Jalen Hurts can beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3
As the lovely passing chart tells us, the Eagles haven’t threatened the intermediate areas over the middle. There have been a few instances where guys are open over the middle, but Hurts doesn’t appear interested in the area.

There is a lot of visual trash over the middle. A lot can go wrong in that area of the field. Hurts is not alone in being leary about attacking the middle. It would behoove the Cowboys to play a higher percentage of quarters coverage in the Monday night divisional showdown.

And watch out Dallas fans, because Hurts has received a lot of Prescott comparisons dating back to college. If he starts attacking the middle of the field, he becomes one of the more dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL.

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