If you were expecting to get some definitive answers about Jalen Hurts from the Eagles’ first preseason game on Thursday night, well, you didn’t.
Hurts played two series — a total of 10 snaps — in the Eagles’ 24-16 loss to the Steelers.
The Eagles’ 23-year-old starting quarterback showed some poise, made some plays but still left plenty of room for improvement. If anything, Eagles fans left Thursday night’s game thinking that, hey, at least that’s something to build on.
And, overall, head coach Nick Sirianni was impressed.
“Yeah, I thought he handled it well,” Sirianni said. “He made a really good check and great throw to Dallas [Goedert] for a big play. He saw what defense was coming and checked the play. A ton of credit to him for that and making a perfect throw there.
“I thought he went with where we wanted the ball to go vs. the defenses they were running. He had a couple drops in there, so I was really pleased with him.”
Before Hurts was pulled for Flacco late in the first quarter, he led the Eagles on two drives, the first of which produced three points thanks to a 47-yard field goal from Jake Elliott.
The stats weren’t great. Hurts finished 3-for-7 for 54 yards, but he was the victim of a couple drops — one from Jalen Reagor, one from Zach Ertz — and one of those incompletions was a throwaway after he escaped from the pocket.
The good: Hurts looked poised in the pocket and he maneuvered away from pressure. He made a great check on the pass to Goedert and an equally great throw to hit him in stride, exactly where it needed to be. Overall, he looks good delivering the ball to his tight ends in tight windows, something that’s important, especially while DeVonta Smith is still out.
The bad: Hurts missed on the deep ball to Quez Watkins that would have gone for a 98-yard touchdown; it was tricky because Hurts had to release the ball from the end zone and Watkins was bumped off his line. He slightly underthrew the pass that Reagor dropped. He also took a couple unnecessary hits; one because his throwaway was a second late, the other because he tried to run for a first down, which is certainly forgivable.
Hurts said he thought it was a “good day” but he saw the areas for improvement too.
“It could be more efficient,” Hurts said. “There’s always room for improvement. I’m never satisfied with anything. I can’t have balls on the ground. We have to hit our money balls when we need them. That’s always going to be my mentality. Preseason, regular season, whatever it is, we truly have a standard for how we want to do it. We want to do it at a high level all the time.”
Of course, it’s also important to remember that Hurts was without his starting left guard Isaac Seumalo and his best receiver DeVonta Smith. And Sirianni is wisely keeping his play calls very vanilla in the preseason, as to not give away any secrets of his offense before the games start to count.
Sirianni still hasn’t named Hurts his Week 1 starter but Hurts obviously will be. The Eagles open their season in less than a month in Atlanta and Hurts will be the guy.
Until then, Hurts will be back in training camp working with his receivers and tight ends trying to tighten up things and build a rapport.
“You have to have the chemistry,” Hurts said. “We’re in training camp still so we’re still building that. I’m confident in that and I’m confident we’ll do that with time. Like Novocaine.”
"Like Novocaine,” Hurts said, invoking Coach Herman Boone from Remember the Titans. “Give it time, it always works."
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