There wasn’t much gleaned from Jalen Hurts’ debut because the Eagles’ starting quarterback was within the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night. That’s because head coach Nick Sirianni said earlier in the week that he wasn’t getting to show elaborate packages. So Hurts mostly stood within the pocket. For the foremost part, he did well, or a minimum of better than he looked through a fortnight of coaching camp practices. Hurts played the primary two series within the Eagles’ 24-16 loss to the Steelers. Hurts completed 3 of seven passes for 54 yards.
The highlight was a 34-yard completion to Dallas Goedert. The lowlight was when he overthrew a wide-open Quez Watkins at heart the sideline, which might have gone for a 98-yard touchdown. Hurts also had two passes dropped – one by Jalen Reagor and one by Zach Ertz.
“He made a very good check and an excellent throw to (Goedert) for an enormous play,” Sirianni said. “He saw what defense was coming, and he checked to the play. plenty of credit to him for that and making an ideal throw there. i assumed he went where we wanted the ball to travel … He had a few drops in there. I used to be really pleased with him.” Still, the outing was significant for Hurts, who hadn’t gotten hit in an NFL game since the season finale against Washington on Jan. 3.
Hurts completed his first skip the center to Ertz, followed by the 34-completion to Goedert. But Reagor and Ertz dropped Hurts’ next two passes, and therefore the Eagles had to accept a 47-yard field goal. Hurts got a second series, and again, the results were mixed. He began it by overthrowing Watkins. When asked what Hurts would really like to vary thereon play, he replied: “I’d wish to have a 98-yard touchdown. Simple as that.” Hurts came right back and hit Ertz for a 13-yard gain. The drive stalled when Hurts, escaping pressure, picked up 4 yards on a 3rd-and-6.
Joe Flacco replaced Hurts after the series and played the remainder of the primary half because the Eagles built a 16-7 lead. Flacco completed 10 of 17 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. That TD was a brief pass to Watkins, who burst through the Steeler’s defense and turned it into a 79-yard touchdown. “He’s not a secret anymore,” Hurts said about Watkins, the Eagles’ sixth-round pick in 2020. Sirianni hasn’t officially named Hurts the starting quarterback. But Hurts has taken every first-team rep in practice. And there was nothing Thursday night to point which may change. Watkins has easily been the Eagles’ best wide receiver in training camp, a minimum of as long as DeVonta Smith has been out with a knee injury.
Watkins last week called himself the fastest of the Eagles’ wide receivers. And twice, he showed why. There was the deep ball during which Watkins got well past his defender, only to possess Hurts to overthrow him. Watkins showed his speed again on subsequent series, when he caught a good receiver screen from Flacco, burst through a hole, and ran past the Steelers’ defense. Sirianni said Flacco checked thereto play to Watkins after seeing the type of defense the Steelers were in. “As soon as he checked, I quite just starting smiling a touch bit,” Watkins said. That was Watkins’ only catch of the night. But really, he should have had 2 receptions for 177 yards. Nick Mullens, who started 8 games for the 49ers last season, had a rough last half for the Eagles.
His first pass was intercepted. Mullens got another chance within the half-moon following an interception by Elijah Riley that set the Eagles up at the Steelers’ 29. But on 3rd-and-11, Mullens’ pass, intended for Adrian Killins, was intercepted by Lafayette Pitts. Mullens finished 1-for-5 for 4 yards with the two interceptions. “No concern,” Sirianni said. “He’s been having an honest camp. Gotta learn from the mistakes and obtain better.” Ertz and right guard Brandon Brooks were among the Eagles’ veterans suited up for the preseason opener against the Steelers.
Brooks hadn’t skilled a full practice since injuring his hamstring on July 29. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2019 season. He missed all of last season with a torn Achilles. As for Ertz, there are rumors for months that the Eagles were trying to trade him. Ertz has expressed his disappointment that the team didn’t rework his contract last summer. Yet Ertz, who skipped the spring practices, has been at every practice during training camp. Still, by playing within the preseason games, Ertz could have exposed himself to injury, which might obviously affect the Eagles’ chances of trading him. Of course, by playing, the Eagles are showing that Ertz might find yourself remaining with the team this season.
Ertz finished with 2 catches for 20 yards. it had been an encouraging sign when Jake Elliott hit all three of his field-goal attempts. Two were from 47 yards and therefore the third was from 50. Elliott had a career-worst 73.7% conversion rate last season … St. Elizabeth in Wilmington star Andre Patton caught a 13-yard pass from Flacco late within the second quarter … Rookie defensive lineman Milton Williams combined with T.Y. McGill for a sack within the second quarter … Jason Huntley was the Eagles’ leading rusher with 15 yards on 4 carries. back Miles Sanders didn’t play Thursday night, and Sirianni said it wasn’t injury-related.
“We just felt like we’ve seen him, we all know what he’s, we’re excited about him and need to stay him fresh,” Sirianni said. The Eagles used Jordan Howard on the primary series, Boston Scott on the second, and rookie Kenny Gainwell for the third series. Huntley played the last half . The others who sat out were injured, including rookie WR DeVonta Smith (knee), LG Isaac Seumalo (hamstring), DE Ryan Kerrigan (thumb), and LB Davion Taylor (calf).