PHILADELPHIA – Every week Jalen Hurts talks about playing better, learning from every opportunity.
Sunday was another of those moments after the Eagles lost 27-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers on a 24-yard last-second field goal from Dustin Hopkins at Lincoln Financial Field. The setback left the Eagles 3-6, 0-4 at home.
The quarterback missed a few chances.
Two escaped him: throwing his back foot at the end of the first half on a DeVonta Smith streak in the back of the end zone and a bad throw to Dallas Goedert deep on a third and five throws generated from LA’s 45-yard line.
“I was expecting something else,” Hurts said of Smith’s shot into the end zone. “I ended up getting out of the pocket and doing a sort of back-pedaling. Maybe I didn’t need to do that, I ended up directing it too much. It is a missed opportunity in my eyes.
The throw missed the mark. Smith was open.
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Instead of a 14-7 Eagles lead at halftime, it was 10-7 after Jake Elliott hit 24 yards with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
The throw to Goedert stopped their first possession in its tracks. A completion maybe puts them in the red zone, maybe it’s a touchdown and it’s 7-0 Eagles, Goedert was also open. Instead, they kicked. No point.
“I’m thinking of the opening practice towards Dallas Goedert,” said Hurts. “I couldn’t really follow my throw, I couldn’t finish it, but maybe I could have gone deeper into the pocket knowing they were bringing in five. It’s a little hard to block man-to-man sometimes. This is something, again, that I will learn from.
It’s only been nine games, but the learning curve hasn’t quite developed for Hurts. Time may be running out for him to keep learning, as unfair as it may seem for a QB who has played in six different offensive systems over the past six years.
The NFL is a results-driven business and, well, three wins is three wins.
Head coach Nick Sirianni is still all-in on his QB, calling him a stallion afterwards. A big stallion, in fact.
He referred to the 28-yard touchdown throw he gave to DeVonta Smith who tied the game at 24-24 with 6:07 to go.
It wasn’t Hurts’ fault that he didn’t get the ball back. That fell on the defense which allowed the Chargers to chew through every second of the clock except two from there with a 15-game practice for the winning placement.
“I think they had a zero blitz on him last play,” Sirianni said of the 28-yard touchdown. “Jalen ended up, we all saw him, ended up coming up with a game and Jalen ended up doing great communication to tell everyone what the game was and just went on strike against DeVonta.
“But I think what was really, really impressive – obviously that shot was really amazing under some pressure – and I know the offensive line did a hell of a job protecting against that zero blitz, but that’s the advanced football there to be able to see what was going on and to be able to get the communication on the line of scrimmage and everyone being on the same page.
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There is no denying that Hurts can play with his legs.
Twice on the equalizer practice, Hurts had the first downs in third and four situations, the first requiring a somersault through the air to gain the line he needed. The second was an 11 yard bolt. On the next game after that, he threw the strike at Smith.
“He really wasn’t fazed by the script and just showed a lot of poise,” Sirianni said. “Down seven, whatever he said to his eyes, put it on me and let’s go, keep running the ball, keep playing the action, make sure we convert on the third try. “
Arguably, if the defense finds a way to make a stop at 24-24, finds a way to punt the Chargers for the first time in the entire game, Hurts finds a way to win this game.
As it stands, he’s only pitched 17 times, completing 11 shots for 162 yards and one touchdown, which was his 11th this season. He has run 10 times for 62 yards and leads the team with 494 yards.
“From the offseason where we practice at five in the morning to throwing the ball, developing chemistry, I’ve always talked about it – and sometimes I forget how young this guy is just because of the how he took control of the team, took control of the offense, ”said RB Boston Scott.
“Huge respect for him. He’s an eraser and what I mean by that is when things aren’t going well he fixes them. So the greatest respect for this guy and what he’s been able to do week after week. He’s a warrior. He’s a winner.
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Ed Kracz is SI.com’s Eagle Maven editor and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news on www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles Where www.eaglemaven.com and follow him on Twitter: @kracze.