Howie Roseman and the Eagles made a mistake in drafting Jalen Hurts 53rd overall in last April’s NFL Draft. I made that clear back then, and I still think that’s an obvious take right now. But that shouldn’t prevent us from acknowledging that he does have value in an offense as decimated by injury as this one.
With two starters healthy, there shouldn’t be a stone left unturned in a search for an offensive spark, and it was pretty clear on Sunday that Hurts could provide that juice for the running game.
By no means am I suggesting he should replace Wentz, let alone throw a football, but we should be preparing multiple packages to get the ball in his hands via the run or screen, and using him as a decoy to stretch the defense east-to-west similar to how he opened up a lane for Sanders in the third quarter.
It doesn’t take an offensive guru to see how his presence influenced the defense on that 76-yard run, and we’ve seen that same impact at other moments this season. We’ve also seen almost all of our opponents gash us for big plays using similar (jet, end-around) option concepts with gadget weapons of their own. Truthfully, Hurts being an asset in that regard was the only logical argument for him ever being drafted so high, so this should always have been in the cards.
The important caveat here is the injured offensive line (and now absence of Sanders). If the group upfront is healthy then I don’t think there’s any reason to bother with what could be derided as “gimmicky” offense; but considering this is a group of backups (and Kelce) for the foreseeable future, Doug needs to do everything he can to get the running game going. That obviously includes employing Hurts in the ‘Taysom Hill’ role, and even using him at QB to add another blocker on zone-read options (no matter how much Wentz runs, he’s not a threat to pull the ball and burn a crashing end on those plays).
Doug was asked in the presser why he didn’t continue to milk some of that action once he saw Hurts give them life in the second quarter, and he replied that, “I could’ve put him in there for another play or two.”—Interesting. Let’s hope that Doug just overlooked that wrinkle in the flow of the game—I’m sure things move fast when he’s play-calling. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Hurts should be more involved in the running game moving forward.