I’ve never seen Philly more excited about a team *after* a loss.
Philly is beside itself — more than normal — over the Eagles after their who-cares, 24-21 loss to the Jets in Friday’s preseason opener.
Expectations were crazy high to begin with for this Eagles roster, maybe unrealistically so.
Assessment after preseason games can provide somewhat of a benchmark where the team and individual players are. Just accept that big-picture analysis based on 60 minutes of preseason football isn’t an ironclad guarantee of how the season will unfold.
In August, each positive moment should be tempered with this sober reminder: It’s just the preseason.
Caveats aside, one development has everyone jacked up: Jalen Hurts, whom the Eagles need to have a big season for the team to have a big season, looked better than *anyone* would have imagined.
WHAT A DRIVE
Hurts only played 3 minutes, 47 seconds — 227 seconds. He engineered a drive that marched down the Jets’ throats — 11 plays, 80 yards, and a touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert. Hurts completed all six of his passes.
That drive happened without Hurts throwing to star receiver A.J. Brown and without the NFL’s leading rushing team last year calling any runs.
Plus, 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith missed the game with a groin injury. He returned to practice Sunday and reports say he was outstanding.
You can only assess based on what you can see. What everyone saw: Hurts looked terrific. His pocket passing game looked crisp and accurate. He scrambled when necessary.
He even bounced up after a nasty cheap shot by a Jets defender.
Game-planning in mid-August isn’t sophisticated. Defenses aren’t showing their goods on Aug. 12. Down the road, teams will game-plan specifically for Hurts. Not sure the Jets did this.
When teams concentrate on Hurts, we’ll know more. We’ll know if the ratio of Hurts staying in the pocket or scrambling is effective and next-level quarterbacking.
But what the Jets offered, Hurts obliterated. That doesn’t mean everything, but it means something.
“He’s getting through everything faster and I think it’s goes down with being more comfortable in the offense,” Smith said about Hurts.
“Last year it was all of our first time being in the offense. Now it’s our second year in the offense … just being more comfortable with it.”
The Eagles’ offensive starters dominated, even with a battered line. The offense’s play overshadowed the excellent performance of the first-team defense.
Hurts, in his one series, might have looked better than he did all of last season. That’s something you can take out of the 227 seconds. Hurts probably won’t play again until the Sept. 11 opener at Detroit, so those are warm, fuzzy memories fans can enjoy for a month.
Hurts played with the confidence and assurance of someone who knows what he has in his teammates and in himself — a potential breakout star at the NFL’s most important position.
- “I thought he was great,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said about Hurts. “He made plays in the pocket when he needed to make plays in the pocket and when he needed to escape, he escaped.
- “I think it’s interesting, I think it’s also to be known that leaving the pocket isn’t just something that you see when the protection breaks down.
- “I think that people think like, oh, we left the pocket early, and the protection was good. Well, sometimes nobody is open. And sometimes the defense calls a good play and it’s not a good look in the coverage.
- “So, it’s not as easy to say that the protection broke down, so he left, because that’s obvious …
- “I thought he played a good football game, first drive and we’ll just look to build on that.”
“As an offense, you hold yourself to a high expectation,” Smith said about Hurts’ 6-of-6 stat line. “I didn’t expect nothing less.
“I expected him [Hurts] to go out there and make the right reads and he did that. And everybody made the plays when their number was called.”
It was one preseason game. That’s a fact.
- Another fact: In the first preseason game, teams are still learning about each other.
- Quick reminder: It’s a long season.
- Quick bucket of cold water: It’s one game and the Jets aren’t much.
- Quick reality: Staying healthy is the top priority in the preseason. Players might not put everything on the line in a glorified practice session.
- This could be a fun season, folks.
So, the preseason purrs along but not without concern. The injury report is growing. Top running back Miles Sanders missed practice Sunday with leg soreness and running back Boston Scott has a concussion.
Still, the defense looks good and the offense looks better. And, for now, the quarterback looks best of all.