After breaking out in full force against the Atlanta Falcons in the opening game, the Eagles have proceeded to spiral into a tailspin. There’s certainly not a lack of people to blame the Eagles’ problems on, and given their upcoming schedule, the negativity and poor performances won’t be ending soon.
But let’s pump the hate-breaks for a minute and take a look at the bright spots, because there are quite a few of them if you dig deep enough. These will not only give you some hope about the rest of the season, but also make you feel better about what direction the Eagles as a franchise are heading.
Jalen Hurts Is Far From The Problem
Hurt’s versatility as a passer and rusher have been on full display this season. In his four games, Hurts has thrown for seven touchdowns against just two interceptions while also logging 1,167 yards passing yards and 226 rushing yards. That all adds up for a stellar 1,393 total yards.
Hurts has now made history when it comes to his total yardage, putting himself right up there with some of the best past, current, and budding superstars in the NFL:
Most total yards through first 8 QB starts in NFL history:
1) Cam Newton 2603
2) Jalen Hurts: 2584
3) Justin Herbert: 2414
4) Patrick Mahomes: 2312#Eagles pic.twitter.com/AXpIXNXqwQ
— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) October 3, 2021
That kind of production is impossible to ignore. Additionally, critics of Hurts that are pounding the table about the Eagles’ win-loss regard continue to not take into account factors such as (1) loss of starters due to injury on offense and (2) a new coaching staff that’s taking time to find it’s rhythm.
Analysts like NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein are also saying that Hurts has taken big steps forward in his second year, and that his future is looking extremely bright:
“He’s [Hurts] working with better quickness through progressions, better anticipation and just like at his pro day, he’s got that same zip on the football. I continue to be impressed by how quickly he is growing.”
While he’s been far from perfect, Hurts has done more than enough to warrant the Eagles giving him another shot in 2022, and instead use their (likely) three first-round picks to surround him with additional talent.
A Rookie Draft Class Is FINALLY Being Productive
This past week, DeVonta Smith put up the first 100-yard performance by an Eagles’ rookie wide receiver since Jordan Matthews in Week 16 of the 2014 season. Since that time, the Eagles have played 99 games. 99 games.
It’s been a long time coming.
On the season, Smith has 18 receptions for 237 yards and one touchdown. Those stats should be even better considering Smith had a long touchdown wiped out by a penalty Sunday. The Slim Reaper has demonstrated complete poise on the field, being able to break away from defenders while showing off his footwork near the sidelines. He’s officially taken over as WR1 just four weeks in.
Meanwhile, Kenny Gainwell has looked like a draft steal. While Gainwell hasn’t had many carries (like the rest of the running backs), he’s still made the most of his opportunities. Gainwell is averaging 4.4 rushing yards despite having just 19 carries, with two rushing touchdowns to boot.
Meanwhile, Gainwell has outplayed Miles Sanders in the passing game, if only by the slimmest of margins. The rookie has 114 yards on 13 receptions, while Sanders possesses 105 yards on 11 receptions.
Landon Dickerson has also given the Eagles decent play at guard in the wake of numerous injuries to expected starters. Roseman had previously stated that he didn’t expect this year to be a “redshirt year” for the Alabama product, and so far his prediction has rang true.
Suffice to say, it’s hard not to be exciting about the futures of the latest batch of youngsters.
Jake Elliott Has Looked Better Than Last Year
One of the biggest problems last year for the Eagles was kicking. Jake Elliott took a major step backwards, making just 14 of 19 field goals. That gave him a FG% of just 73.7%, the lowest mark in his then-four year career. Making things worse was that his contract, a five-year, $19 million deal with over $10 million guaranteed, made it difficult to move on from him.
To be clear, that contract is still horrible. Kickers are the most “role-the-dice” players in sports. They can look amazing one year and utterly awful the next, which is why giving them big money isn’t the best team management.
With that said, Elliott has given the Eagles solid play. He’s made five of his six field goals, giving him a FG% of 83.3%. He’s also made all nine of his extra point attempts. Perhaps the Eagles will stop going for it less in field goal territory on fourth down if Elliott continues to have performances like his one against the Chiefs (3 for 3 in FGAs).
Jason Kelce Continues To Kick Ass While Remaining The Best Center In The NFL
Year in and year out, Jason Kelce continues to be the best Eagles’ offensive lineman. According to ESPN, Kelce ranks first in the NFL in run block win rate (at 81%), and fourth in pass block win rate (97%). Kelce also has a PFF grade of 88.2.
Kelce is undoubtedly heading towards another Pro-Bowl and All-Pro season. However, his future in Philadelphia is probably coming to a close, given that Kelce has thrown around the possibility in the last couple off-seasons while the Eagles drafted his eventual heir in Dickerson.
If this truly is Kelce’s swan song, he’s giving Eagles fans one to remember thanks to his durability and consistency.