It took less than two weeks into the 2020 season for Jalen Hurts to overtake Nate Sudfeld as the Eagles’ backup quarterback.
And unlike Sudfeld, Hurts is able to make on-field contributions even when he’s not in the game at quarterback.
The Eagles dipped their toe into those waters in Week 2. Now, the Eagles have a lot of other things to worry about right now, but it’s safe to think they will continue to use Hurts in the ways we saw him used Sunday and more.
The second-round pick played just three offensive snaps and didn’t touch the ball, but still made an impact on the game:
This first play comes midway through the second quarter with the Eagles down 21-3, but they’re driving and are already in the red zone. It’s a big situation for Hurts to get his first NFL snap.
On this play, Carson Wentz is under center with Miles Sanders and Hurts (circled) in the backfield.
Just after the snap, Wentz pump-fakes to Sanders’ side. That starts to clear the middle of the field. Then he turns and pump fakes to Hurts’ side of the field to clear out that side.
And you’ll notice how these two pump fakes have completely cleared out the middle of the field for Dallas Goedert.
Goedert on this play looks like he’s staying in to block. But eventually, he breaks free into the middle of the field for a 10-yard gain.
I really like this design and the Eagles sold it perfectly. Sanders obviously garners a lot of attention and based on Sunday’s game, so does Hurts. The Eagles use that to their advantage, making both of them decoys.
There’s not much to show on this play that comes a few snaps later. But we included it because there were only three and it’s worth noting that this time they have Hurts lined up out wide. That means that on three snaps, he lined up in three different positions, none of which were quarterback.
This play went for a two-yard gain and Wentz punched in a QB sneak on the next play.
Hurts’ last play of the game comes with 46 seconds left in the first half just after T.J. Edwards forced a fumble on the punt return.
On this play, Hurts is lined up in the slot. He’s going to come on a fake end around to the near side of the field and we’re going to see how much attention he garners from Rams defenders.
As Hurts comes around, you can see the Rams’ defense shift and how much he freezes a couple of the Rams defenders, including safety Jordan Fuller (No. 32), who ends up making the tackle. This gives Sanders an extra few seconds to burst through the hole for a 6-yard gain.
In his first game action, Hurts didn’t even touch the ball. The closest he came was when he over-acted coming around on that end around on the third play. But we also noticed how his presence froze Rams defenders a few times.
Overall, I still don’t think Hurts is going to have a major role on offense unless he ends up starting a game (or more) at quarterback. The one thing we didn’t see on Sunday was Hurts line up as a QB, the way we’ve sometimes seen the Saints use Taysom Hill. Perhaps that will be the next progression. I’m not really a fan of that usage, though, because it theoretically takes the ball out of the hands of your best player. Of course, Wentz hasn’t exactly looked like the Eagles’ best player through two games.
In a limited role on Sunday, Hurts served his purpose. He was a solid decoy.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Rams probably didn’t expect Hurts to even be active on Sunday. So that element of surprise is now out the window for the rest of the season. But the Eagles were able to put on tape a few ways they can possibly use Hurts this season, which will give opposing defenses plenty to think about.