After a preseason filled with rumor, innuendo and mixed reviews about his training camp performance, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts opened Friday’s preseason game against the Jets with a near-perfect drive.
Hurts completed 6-of-6 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles marched down the field in crisp and efficient fashion. Hurts only played the first possession.
Even Hurts’ harshest critics — and they’re out there — had to be impressed with the young quarterback’s command of the offense, decision-making and execution.
There have been assorted reports — positive and negative — coming out of training camp. Hurts looks good. Hurts is tossing interceptions. He’s the franchise quarterback. No, he’s not.
Hurts looked — without exaggeration— like the franchise quarterback the Eagles desperately want him to be. He stood tall in the well-protected pocket and threw tight passes over the middle with accuracy.
Hurts made brisk decisions and got rid of the ball quickly. He found open receivers and hit them on the numbers.
He never forced a pass into coverage because Eagles receivers were so open. Hurts averaged 13.3 yards per completion.
On the first drive, the Eagles called seven plays, all passes. This from the team that led the NFL in rushing last year.
Hurts came out firing and the Eagles were in step with him.
Hurts didn’t connect with his buddy A.J. Brown, the powerful wide receiver who is expected to add another dimension to the offense.
On this night, Brown wasn’t needed. The offense was just fine. With Hurts, the offense was unstoppable.
MORE ON THE OFFENSE
The Eagles’ offensive line was without injured left guard Landon Dickerson and center Jason Kelce.
Jordan Mailata, coming off a concussion, started and looked like his dominant self despite a holding penalty that nullified a 12-yard touchdown run by Hurts.
After the touchdown was wiped out, Hurts promptly stepped back in the pocket and hit tight end Dallas Goedert for a 22-yard touchdown. Fourth wide receiver Zach Pascal had two catches for 41 yards. Embattled receiver Jalen Reagor had three receptions for 26 yards.
Mailata also quickly confronted Jets linebacker Quincy Williams, who drew an unnecessary roughness penalty for a cheap shot on Hurts after the quarterback clearly was out of bounds
Gardner Minshew replaced Hurts and went 8-of-12 for 81 yards. Minshew finished the half as the Eagles led, 14-3, at the break.
The Eagles lost the game, 24-21, on a Jets touchdown with 16 seconds left. The Eagles had taken the lead in the fourth quarter, 21-17, on an 18-play drive engineered by third-string quarterback Reid Sinnett.
INTERCEPTION BY WHITE
Kyzir White, acquired this offseason in free agency, looked like a ball-hawking linebacker when he stepped in front of a Zach Wilson pass for an interception.
White returned the ball 27 yards, setting up the Eagles’ second touchdown, a 1-yard run by Jason Huntley.
Last year, the Eagles only had 12 interceptions.
Preseason games are where you can see if the rookies belong.
As advertised, linebacker Nakobe Dean was flying to the ball, making a team-high five tackles in the first half.
Center Cam Jurgens looked quick and strong. When the television broadcast singled out Jurgens, he was getting downfield making blocks like his mentor, Kelce.
“This whole game is a Jurgens highlight video,” TV analyst Ross Tucker said.
Defensive tackle Jordan Davis didn’t make the stat sheet but his presence was accounted for along the line.
EAGLES HALL OF FAME
At halftime, chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie announced that Trent Cole and Hugh Douglas will be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame.
They will be inducted on Sunday, Nov. 27 when the Eagles host Green Bay at 8:20 p.m.
Cole (2005-14) had 85.5 quarterback takedowns (second all-time) during his 10-year career and Douglas (1998-2002, 2004) had 54.5 (sixth all-time) during his six seasons.
“Trent and Hugh were both high impact pass rushers and consummate teammates,” Lurie said in a press release.
“When we traded for Hugh, we knew we were getting a player who would immediately make our football team better. He was a tremendous leader on a defense that helped guide us to many deep postseason runs.
“Upon Hugh’s retirement, we were fortunate to acquire another talented edge rusher through the draft. Trent was a dynamic and durable player who provided us with an advantage on defense thanks to his endless motor, selfless style of play, and passion for the game.”