HomeDa Birds NewsTo turn the Eagles' offense around, Jalen Hurts needs to address this...

To turn the Eagles’ offense around, Jalen Hurts needs to address this specific problem.

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In the Philadelphia Eagles’ 42-19 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was pressured on 27 of his 45 passing attempts. That’s not only the most pressures any NFL quarterback has had on his attempts this season. Only Andy Dalton of the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 (27) and Daniel Jones of the New York Giants in Week 1 (28) have had more pressures in a game this season in their total dropbacks.

While we know that the 49ers’ front six is probably the league’s best, and we also know that the Eagles’ offensive line hasn’t quite performed to last season’s standard, this wasn’t primarily about the 49ers winning the battle in the trenches, and the Eagles’ front five unable to hold up. More than anything, it was about Hurts’ inability to adjust and reset under pressure. Some quarterbacks will drop their eyes to look at the pass rush, and if they can’t quickly get their eyes re-focused on their receivers, the play will fall apart.

The 49ers pressured Hurts with just four rushers on 20 of those plays, and as San Francisco edge-rusher Nick Bosa said after the game, the whole plan was about putting Hurts in positions where he would have to do just that. “There was definitely an assignment focus — we had to make Jalen focus on the rush, and not look downfield,” Bosa said. “That was the key to the game. Our whole mentality was that we’re not trying to set the record on sacks — we’re trying to close the pocket, and we’re trying to keep his eyes on us. It’s obviously a really good offensive line, and he helps them out with how he evades. You can’t really pick a side with those guys, because you know he’s gonna get out of the pocket and win that way. So, I think we did a really good job of closing in on him.” Bosa also commented on those plays where Hurts is running around and pointing at receivers. “You get a push, and he sees that, so his eyes immediately go off his receivers. He’s dipping and dodging right in front of you, and you’re just trying to keep him in the pocket.

It’s tough to be blocked for 10 seconds on a play, but it was an unselfish mentality from everybody, and it ended perfectly.” It was different for Bosa and his linemates to train themselves to NOT go after the quarterback as they usually do. “Yeah — I mean, there are so many different matchups in a week, and some weeks, you’re [trying] to hit your move and get the sack. This week, the entire focus was closing it in, making him do what he does, and it was effective.” Nick Bosa believes Jalen Hurts has been figured out. “We put the blueprint out there … Hopefully, the Cowboys watch the tape.”

It was highly effective, and in this week’s “Xs and Os with Greg Cosell and Doug Farrar,” the guys got deeper into how Hurts is… well, hurting his offense by dropping his eyes and losing his reads. You can watch this week’s “Xs and Os,” featuring Week 14’s biggest NFL matchups, right here: You can also listen and subscribe to the “Xs and Os” podcast on Spotify… …and on Apple Podcasts. Now, let’s get into the details, and why the Eagles’ passing game is regressing this season. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) On Wednesday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was asked about the first play of the 49ers game, when the Eagles had A.J. Brown running a quick stop route to the left, tight end Jack Stoll and receiver Quez Watkins running posts over the middle from either slot, and Devonta Smith running a dig route from the far right. Hurts threw an incomplete pass to running back D’Andre Swift on Swift’s drifting release route, and there was certainly more meat on the bone here.   “Obviously we go through each play and talk about how to read it and things like that,” Sirianni said. “On that particular play, our design was, without getting too much into it, Jack was part of the play to clear out.

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If you ask the quarterback to read everything on the field, you’re going to affect his ability to read some things on the field. “And that’s just how I’ve always believed to coach the quarterback and just get him just focused on this one part. Again, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, when I go work a guy out or something like that, they’re like, ‘well, I had to look from here, here, here, here, here.’ “When you have to look at so much, again, your processing speed is going to slow down, and you’re going to hold the ball a little bit longer and the rush is going to get there. You have to define reads a little different. I’m telling you that Jack wasn’t part of that read. When something like that happens and a guy pops, I’ll always take that. Jack popped. I got it. But he wasn’t part of the read, and that’s how I told Jalen to read it that day.” The odd thing about the explanation was that Stoll was wide open when safety Ji’Ayir Brown bit hard on Hurts’ run action.

Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles Jalen Hurts

Brown was the robber in Cover-3 — at least, that’s what it looked like — and given his difficulty in adjusting back to Stoll’s vertical route (not to mention the fact that Hurts was reading the left side), this could have been a huge play right off the bat, and the read wasn’t exactly complex based on how Brown reacted. If Hurts throws the ball right about here, it’s probably six points to open the game. So, given the situation and the read, it would appear that the target Hurts should and could have hit was Smith on the flat route. You could argue that with Watkins clearing that out to the back side, the easy throw was to Smith. Hurts had a clean pocket to make that throw, but he bailed to the right instead, and threw the ball away. The fourth play of the game had more of the elements Sirianni was talking about… perhaps. It was first-and-10 from the San Francisco 26-yard line. This time, with Watkins and A.J. Brown running outside vertical routes, and linebacker Fred Warner covering running back D’Andre Swift’s release route underneath, Stoll was the open man on his deep seam crosser.

The 49ers were in Quarters coverage, and as safety Tashaun Gipson moved to the outside, there was a void in coverage that Hurts could have exploited with Stoll. This was blocked well enough for Hurts to see it and throw it, but he bailed to his right, and tried to hit Brown, who was playing scramble rules to his front side. A lower-percentage throw than the one he had. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) Also this week, Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was asked about the second of three sacks Hurts took against San Francisco. There was 7:10 left in the first half, and the plan was to throw to Smith on the deep stop route to the front side. Alas. “What ended up happening on that play is, as we actioned across, the back kind of got picked and wasn’t able to get out in his flare control.

That was a play we’ve run quite a bit in terms of just throwing that deep stop route to DeVonta. “For us, part of it is just understanding, ‘Okay, when can I extend and make a play?’ or when to just say, ‘Play the next play?’ Obviously, anytime you take a sack or a negative play when you don’t have to is something that… we don’t want to get put behind the chains. You’d obviously rather be second-and-10 than [in a] second-and-19 situation.” Bosa forced Swift to lose his flare route when Swift had to help right tackle Lane Johnson in pass protection, and cornerback Charvarius Ward (who has been playing very well this season) had Smith covered tightly on that route out of press-bail coverage in Quarters.

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