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Review of Eagles Film: Jalen Hurts Continues to Excel as Quarterback despite 2023 Setback

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It’s time for the offseason! I will be getting to a lot of Eagles player and scheme breakdowns over the next few months, and I can’t possibly start anywhere other than the quarterback position. I’ve written about Jalen Hurts in a lot of detail before here so I’m not going to go over the same points over and over again, but I will try and look at what changed this year.

The Stats Firstly, thank you to my BGN podcast partner Shane Haff who made my job easier by grouping all of the main stats. Jalen Hurts 2023 Stats
Passing Yards: 3,858 (14th)
Passing TDs: 23 (14th)
Interceptions: 15 (27th)
Turnover Worth Play Rate: 2.3% (6th)
Completion %: 65.4% (13th)
Adjusted Completion Percentage: 75.8% (13th)
Expected Completion Percentage: 61.3% (28th)
CPOE: +4.1%… pic.twitter.com/Esa6I5lMen— Shane Haff (@ShaneHaffNFL) January 22, 2024 Here are some of my main takeaways from the numbers…

There is a significant difference between turnovers and turnover-worthy plays. I expect some positive regression next year. Still, the interception number is higher than you would like. Nothing sums up this Eagles’ offense more than ranking 2nd in average depth of target, and 26th in time to throw. The difference in time to throw and average depth of target this year compared to last year shows a big difference. You already know this, but this offense focused on taking the deep shot too often. I don’t take PFF grades as very reliable, but I think Hurts ranking as the 7th best quarterback this year highlights that he still had a pretty strong year.

Last Years Review Here’s a reminder about my conclusion on Hurts when I published a review of him during the Eagles’ bye week in October. This was before he went on a phenomenal playoff run and had a fantastic game. Hurts does not play quarterback in the ‘traditional’ sense but if you have a coach who can build around his skillset as the Eagles have done, I think he can be a top 5-8 QB. He may not have the rare skillset in terms of arm strength of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, or Patrick Mahomes, but his mobility is rare. I don’t like making rankings, but I look around the league at the moment and I am not sure that long term I would take more than 5 QBs over Hurts if I was starting a franchise (the 5 being – Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow) but this is just personal preference and it would depend on the offense you wanted to run.

I said this after 6 weeks into the season because it was clear that Hurts was playing at a very high level. He only got better, but I think it’s clear this year he took a slight step backward. Let’s start with the negatives first.

A Step Backward Hurts did not play as well this year as he did last year. I think he regressed in a few specific areas such as…

Middle of the Field It is impossible to separate a quarterback from his scheme. Is Brock Purdy putting up the numbers he has this year under any other coach? Probably not. The issue is that we can’t know who is to blame for the offensive design this year. I’ll give you a wonderful hypothetical conversation. Person A: “Jalen Hurts doesn’t throw to the middle of the field enough, it’s his fault”. Person B: “Jalen Hurts doesn’t throw to the middle of the field enough, because the coaches don’t scheme up enough throws to the middle of the field enough, and focus on throws outside the numbers”. Person A: “I agree. But this is because Jalen Hurts can’t throw to the middle of the field. So that’s why the coaches aren’t scheming throws to the middle of the field. So… who is right? We don’t know! So here are the facts. Quite simply, Hurts does not throw enough to the middle of the field. But, when Hurts does throw it to the middle of the field, he is outstanding at it. The answer probably lies somewhere in between. There is no doubt that this coaching staff schemes up more outside throws rather than targeting the middle of the field. However, Hurts has proven that he can make tough throws in the middle of the field. I have seen it with my own eyes, multiple times. The Eagles don’t call a huge amount of Hi-Lo concepts but when they do, I think Hurts is willing to throw to the middle of the field. Last year he threw to the middle of the field 17% of the time, this year it was 11%. 17% isn’t exactly a lot, but it proves that he can do it more. Let’s look at some examples.

Even on this play, I don’t particularly love the Eagles’ spacing. 6) The Eagles best throws were on Hi-Lo concepts in the middle of the field. I thought AJ Brown was excellent and Hurts did throw with good anticipation to the middle of the field. The Pats defensive spacing was excellent so these throws had to be thrown really well. pic.twitter.com/V5yFDcC01u— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023 I mean… 7) Speaking of improvement… Remember when Hurts couldn’t throw over the middle? That was fun. This is a dime. He reads the MIKE’s positioning and knows he will have Smith open against cover 2 and he lets it rip. Just really good processing and understanding of the defense. pic.twitter.com/enWmD9e70j— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 31, 2023 10) Again, remember when Hurts couldn’t throw to the middle of the field? Another Hi-Lo and Hurts throws a dime to AJ Brown. Look how Hurts ever so slightly pump fakes to Goedert to create a throwing window by moving the LB. It’s just beautiful pocket play. The game feels like it… pic.twitter.com/LUk9gxYbNd— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 31, 2023 However… 8) The Eagles ran a lot of short curls early on and they worked. Once again, I don’t like the spacing here. It’s too congested. But, Hurts has to throw this to Goedert. It looks like he’s reading the Hi-Lo and he needs to release it. I think Hurts gets greedy at times and almost… pic.twitter.com/64XYouZTzi— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 19, 2023 This is a minor point, but I just don’t like the Eagles’ offense spacing when they target the middle of the field and it always looks contested. I think you have to point out that the scheme does not make it easy for Hurts to have success throwing to the middle of the field.

Rushing Threat I do not think Hurts was fully healthy for a large part of this season. He didn’t look the same athlete and he’s only 25! I highly doubt his body has started to decline at the age of 25 (if it has, then I’m in real trouble). I think it is pretty obvious that Hurts’ rushing has taken a step back this year. Last year Hurts ran for 760 yards at 4.6 yards per attempt and had 7 20+ rushes. This year, he only had 605 yards at 3.8 and 2 20+ rushes. It was very clear that Hurts was not healthy this year. 8) This is the play I noticed something was clearly wrong with Hurts movement. He’s still able to escape the pocket, and it’s a fantastic scramble, but he slows up at the end. Hopefully it’s something that may impact him but he can still play through as he gets better. pic.twitter.com/aRByxGIy9f— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) October 25, 2023 He was just faster last year, wasn’t he? #8 Chiefs double cover AJ Brown on 4th down which leaves the LB one-on-one with Hurts. Hurts is simply too good of an athlete. Hurts runs behind Kelce who pulls but that finds the cutback lane and accelerates past the DT who can’t slow him down. Big time run. pic.twitter.com/h4bG19ZNtj— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 14, 2023 The numbers back this up too. Something that stood out to me from @Nate_Tice’s article about Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense was the sharp decline of Jalen Hurts as a runner on non-sneak, designed runs. I spoke about it with @JonnyPage9 today for BGN. 2022
Success Rate: 57.5%
EPA/rush: 0.186
Missed…— Shane Haff (@ShaneHaffNFL) January 24, 2024 That’s a significant difference, and I think it’s pretty clear that Hurts has…

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