Enough of the Jalen Hurts experiment. It was a nice little story, but the guy is just good enough to get you crushed in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Hurts has been a limited passer his entire NFL career. He was dreadful in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 31-15 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, and if Howie Roseman expects to take a step forward in 2022, he needs to find another quarterback.
Jalen Hurts ineffective vs. Buccaneers in Wild Card round
Hurts completed 23 of 43 passes for 258 yards — 35 of which came on 1 attempt — and threw 2 bad picks in his postseason debut. FOX Analyst Troy Aikman basically subtweeted Hurts the entire game, pointing out the many easy reads and throws that the second-year quarterback missed.
Hurts offered up a bad pick in the end zone late in the first half when the game was still somewhat in doubt. He later overthrew Quez Watkins by 5 yards on what should have been a walk-in touchdown with Philly down 31-0.
None of this should come as much of a surprise. On the year, Hurts was 16th in EPA per play (0.12), 20th in CPOE (0.1), 19th in QBR (48.7), 22nd in passer rating (87.2), 26th in completion percentage (61.3), and 15th in yards per attempt (7.3).
He’s an excellent runner and a below-average passer. That’s a bad combination in the 21st century NFL.
Sirianni sticks with Hurts
Credit Nick Sirianni for loyalty, we guess. He stuck with Hurts throughout the game and didn’t turn to Gardner Minshew. Perhaps he was investing in the future. If the Eagles truly do plan to roll with Hurts in 2022, as some reports indicate, then Sirianni was wise not to torpedo Hurts’ confidence. But Sunday’s stinker should lead to some reevaluation on Broad Street.
“We weren’t as crisp as we needed to be on offense,” Sirianni said. “A couple of the early things that happened, early third downs, weren’t necessarily his fault.
“… It’s not going to come out as his best-graded game. … I’ll have to watch the tape to get a further answer. But just not a crisp game.”
Some important context: Hurts wasn’t 100%. He entered the post-game media room with a boot on his left foot, and while he didn’t get into specifics, he suggested that surgery might be necessary.
Sirianni, meanwhile, went on to say that the Eagles won’t make a snap judgment on the quarterback position based on one performance, no matter how poor.
“I felt like Jalen grew throughout the year,” he added. “He got better as a passer, he got better at reading the defense, getting the ball to the right place. … I feel really good with what we have in place right here at the quarterback position. I think he had a great year and came a long way.”
That’s kind of Sirianni to say. But it’s not entirely accurate. Hurts was an average player on an average team. Sunday illustrated just how far the Eagles are from winning a championship. But they have the assets to get a lot closer very soon.
The Eagles own three first-round picks — 15th, 16th, and 19th overall — and they should use them to upgrade at the most important position in all of team sports. The Eagles were in on Deshaun Watson trade talks before his serious legal situation made a deal untenable. But if that gets resolved by free agency, and he’d be open to a trade to Philadelphia, they should consider making a move. If not, Philly should think about drafting a QB or even giving up an asset for Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the Niners are expected to shop this offseason.
Eagles latest seventh seed to get romped
Gordon Gekko definitely needs revision. Greed isn’t good — at least when it comes to playoff football. There’s no reason for 14 playoff teams other than to line ownerships’ pockets. The Eagles were a below-average team all year and totally outclassed by a seriously banged-up Buccaneers club.
Eagles and the Steelers are this year’s seventh seeds. The Eagles got romped; the Steelers visit the Chiefs Sunday evening as 11-point underdogs. Barring one of the biggest upsets of the season, No. 7 seeds will have gone 0-4 since playoffs were expanded in 2020.
These are games that don’t need to be played. The loss was Philadelphia’s seventh in seven games this year against playoff teams. Tampa Bay desperately needed a bye, and they deserved one by going 13-4 in the regular season. Instead, they had to play, and two stud offensive linemen — Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs — got dinged up Sunday on an offense that was already without Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin.
The quality of competition will get significantly tougher for Tampa in the Divisional Round. But that shouldn’t be a surprise. Given their first-round opponent, it couldn’t possibly get any easier.