When you’re the quarterback in most NFL cities, your every move is analyzed, appraised and prodded. Questioned and re-questioned.
When you’re the quarterback in Philadelphia, double that scrutiny. Maybe triple it.
From most accounts, Jalen Hurts played an outstanding game Sunday as the Eagles won a tough season opener over Detroit, 38-35.
Was he perfect? No.
Was he spectacular? No.
He was more than good enough. He made a Philly hero out of A.J. Brown, who caught 10 passes for 155 yards.
Still, there are whispers. Some of the whispers are loud.
- Did he take off and run too soon? Maybe, at times.
- Did he throw too much going to his right? Actually, no.
- Did he underthrow a pass or two? Yep.
- Did his team win the game? Why, yes, they did.
“When you look at him, when he ran the ball, he was efficient,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said.
“When he was throwing it, I thought he was really efficient. To average 7.2 yards on the pass game is pretty good.
“He made some tremendous throws. His accuracy was on point. I think he had about four throwaways, but overall, just a really strong performance from him.”
PRAISE FROM SIRIANNI
When you’re Hurts, and everybody knows the success of the season rests squarely on your shoulders, the examination of your game is going to be intense — as it should be.
I am surprised by the amount of criticism Hurts is facing after the *victory*. If people expect Peyton Manning, keep looking. The Eagles did score 31 offensive points against an improving Lions team.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni, who has the most to lose from a poor Hurts performance, didn’t hesitate when asked about how his quarterback played.
- “I really felt like there were really a lot of moments in that game where he was throwing on rhythm and ripping the ball where it was supposed to be on time,” Sirianni said. “ … I definitely thought he played winning football yesterday.”
ON THE RUN
Hurts, who passed for 243 yards, kept drives alive with timely — and sometimes, necessary — runs. Effective running quarterbacks rip the heart out of defenses, who might have receivers covered, and the quarterback cornered, only to see him on the move downfield.
- “As far as his ability with his legs, to gain 90 yards on the ground, some of them obviously were off scrambles and some of them were off designed quarterback runs,” Sirianni said. “That’s a lot of offense.
- “I think that teams that are typically in the top half of the league in running the football have an element of their quarterback that can run.”
One area of legitimate concern should be the number of times, 17, that Hurts ran with the ball. That’s too many potential hits.
Another concern: In his one preseason drive and the Lions game, Hurts has taken three late hits. Both cheap shots against the Lions came when he committed to sliding to end the play.
“They called it [penalty],” Hurts said. “It’s not the first time it’s going to happen and it’s probably not the last time it’s going to happen.
“It comes with the game. Get right back up and keep going, next play.”
Sirianni wasn’t happy about the late hits. He knows his quarterback’s health means everything.
- “Jalen knows how to protect himself,” Sirianni said. “That doesn’t mean you can always account for somebody getting an extra shot on him. I get that.
- “But he’s very smart about how — he doesn’t take hits like a normal quarterback take hits. He knows, he has rare instincts in the sense of how to get down and how to scramble out.
- “That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect every time. I get that. But he does have rare instincts and we do trust his decision-making process there.”
THE QUARTERBACK SLIDE RULE
Consider this a PSA: Sirianni explained the complicated quarterback sliding rule.
- “If Jalen slides before anybody is committed to tackling him, then they can’t touch him,” Sirianni said.
- “So now when he slides, and the guy is already in the process of making the tackle — because the guys can’t just let up right.
- “We wouldn’t want our guys to teach it that way either because if he hasn’t started his act of sliding, we want those guys to continue in the process of trying to tackle him.
- “If he starts his slide while they are in the process of trying to tackle him, he’s free game, except for in the head and neck area, if that makes sense.
- “We got a couple called yesterday because it went to the head and neck area. I have to remind myself, I think this is a good opportunity for me to say that to the fans and myself out there because I never want him to get hit.
- “That is within the rules of the game, and I have to remind myself — the reason I’m so educated in that rule is one, it’s my job to be, but also, is because I have to educate myself so I don’t fly off the handle that he got hit.
- “That doesn’t always mean I’m perfect with that because I know I do.”
OK, Sirianni isn’t perfect.
Neither is Hurts.
The Eagles aren’t either.
They are 1-0.