Eagles Insider

Nick Sirianni finally finds a way to help Jalen Hurts

Eagles Insider

It's not about what Jalen Hurts did. It's all about what he didn't do. 

More specifically, what he wasn't asked to do.

Coming into the Eagles-Lions game, Hurts had either run or thrown (or gotten sacked) on 324 of 421 snaps this year, an NFL-high 77 percent.

During the five-week stretch from the Cowboys game through the Raiders game, that number was an absurd 82 percent on 246 of 299 snaps. 

That means during the five-game stretch from the Cowboys through the Raiders there were only 53 snaps where Hurts handed the ball off to a running back and didn't have the weight of the play on his shoulders.

Not surprisingly, the Eagles were 1-4 in those five games.

That's an inordinate workload for any quarterback, much less a 23-year-old who had played three full games before the season began trying to find his way in a new offense under a rookie head coach.

Look at the percentage of plays that involved Hurts running or throwing the first seven weeks of the season:

  • Falcons: 64 percent
  • 49ers: 64 percent
  • Cowboys: 94 percent
  • Chiefs 87 percent
  • Panthers: 79 percent
  • Buccaneers 81 percent 
  • Raiders: 72 percent

So Hurts' lightest workload the first seven weeks of the season was 64 percent. And his lightest workload since Week 2 was 72 percent.

It's too much on his plate. Way too much. And on Sunday in Detroit, Nick Sirianni finally did something about it.

With the running backs getting a whopping 37 carries -- only 16 fewer than they had in the previous FIVE GAMES combined -- Hurts threw just 14 passes, completing nine for 103 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass or interception but he ran seven times for 71 yards, and he managed an offense that scored on all seven of its possessions after punting three minutes into the game (not including a kneel-down just before halftime).

 

And that 77 percent figure?

In the Eagles' 44-6 win over the Lions, Hurts ran or threw on only 23 of 62 plays, a season-low (and career-low) 37 percent.

Hurts completed 64 percent of his passes, his 3rd-highest figure this year, and his 10.1 yards per carry was the highest of his career.

Hurts didn't do much because for once he wasn't asked to do much.

Asked if he were OK with throwing just 14 passes, Hurts said this: "I'm OK with winning. I'm OK with winning. I say the same thing every week."

Six of Hurts' nine completions and four of his seven runs went for first downs, so that means 10 of the 21 times he ran or threw, he moved the sticks.

That's efficiency.

Guaranteed he'll get criticized for not putting up glossy passing numbers, but this was a game where he didn't need to.

Hard to argue with 44 points.

Did we gain any deep knowledge of Hurts' long-range potential or his chances of being The Guy moving forward? Nope. But Hurts didn't turn the ball over, didn't miss any open receivers and did exactly what he had to do for the Eagles to record their most lopsided road win in 40 years.

"I think Jalen has big shoulders and I think he's able to handle a lot, I really do," Sirianni said. "Essentially you can say that he's still in his rookie year as far as starts go. So yeah, that's going to be able to help him out and when you're able to run it like that. It's going to create space for him and the offensive line on the play-action game. 

"We're evolving each week on offense. We're figuring out more and more what we do well and just evolving."

And if you look at that chart outlining the percentage of snaps Hurts has been asked to throw or run on, you see that the Eagles are 0-3 when that number is over 80 percent and 3-2 when it's under 80 percent.

There will be games when Hurts is asked to throw a lot of passes because of the opponent or the score or the situation.

But if Sunday's game tells us anything, it's that the Eagles can put less on Hurts' shoulders and still win football games.

"I think we can continue to grow," Hurts said. "We've come out through this season and we've played different types of football in a lot of these games. I think that has been figuring out the identity of who we are. 

"You're probably going to ask me, 'What is your identity?' And I think the identity is just continue to mesh all of these great things we have, this melting pot of being able to throw the ball, being able to run the ball, being able to be an effective offense (doing) whatever it is we choose to do. 

 

"We just want to continue to be efficient, but at the end of the day, we've got to put points on the board. We did a good job of that (Sunday) and we won the game."

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