My opinion while watching the game live was that Jalen struggled big time in the 2nd half. And after watching the All-22 my opinion remains the same. This shouldn’t be surprising to anybody seeing as this is Jalen’s 3rd career start and these issues were noted on many of his scouting reports, however the timing of this performance after 2.5 great halves of football was certainly disappointing. Aside from that, I came to a pretty simple conclusion as to why Hurts struggled: His head was swimming. That’s it. All of his struggles were very obviously connected towards his lack of confidence in what he was seeing/feeling. He was escaping clean pockets, getting trigger shy on easy reads, and frankly falling right into dallas’s trap. But I’m not just gonna tell you, I’m gonna show you.
First, we’ll go over what happened in the pocket. Pass protection wasn’t perfect, Jordan struggled quite a bit, however Hurts contributed to some of the sacks and QB hits. On this play Dallas calls a 3 man rush having the DT mush rush and having a safety drop down late as a QB spy. Nothings open initially and Jalen’s internal clock alarms and he takes off. It’s a trap though, with the QB spy and the DT on a mush rush they were ready for him to scramble. Really there was no reason for Hurts to leave the pocket. Again the DT was mush rushing so he wasn’t getting pressure, Demarcus Lawrence is being taken care of on a double team, and Mailata has Miles Sanders to help him take care of the other edge rusher. Hurts needs to trust in the protection here and stand tall in the pocket. The next phase of this play is Greg Ward getting open on the comeback. He was open. But because Hurts escaped the pocket so aggressively he wasn’t able to set his feet in time and ultimately pulled the ball down. Even after escaping the pocket he had a chance to fit the ball in there but Hurts clearly wasn’t processing the situation well.
This play combines two issues. Lack of anticipation and poor pocket presence. With Alshon running a slant off of a pick, that ball needs to come out quick. And it’s an easy read. You have 2 CB’s on 2 WR’s, with the outside CB playing off coverage. For some reason Hurts doesn’t pull the trigger and instead drifts backwards. Mailata gets beat pretty badly here, but you’d like to see Hurts step up into the pocket and deliver this throw.
Again his head is swimming. He doesn’t trust what he’s seeing. The pocket is picture perfect and Hurts is already dropping his shoulders preparing to evade ghosts instead of keeping focused downfield. He resets for a moment looking straight at a wide open Dallas Goedert but opts to scramble instead. Does he get some yards here? Yes. But we want our QB to work smarter not harder. Take the easy 15 yards that’s right there for the taking.
Again not trusting the pocket. Picture perfect protection here. All he has to do is stand in the pocket, maybe take a step to the left, but he can’t run straight up the middle like that in this scenario. He just invited pressure, and took a monster hit that didn’t need to be taken. This is a clear example of him trying to play hero ball instead of letting the game come to him.
Dallas sets a trap here for Hurts. Dallas sends a stunt on the left side that Hurts doesn’t identify and Hurts thinks he’s got a free run to the endzone. Unfortunately it doesn’t go as planned and Dallas gets a free sack that was all on the QB.
This one was really bad. Dallas rushes TWO rushers. A DT whose getting dominated by Kelce, and Randy Gregory who gets washed by Mailata. They have Demarcus Lawrence Spying the right side and have a safety dropping down into the box to spy the left side. The Eagles have 3 offensive lineman standing around doing nothing because there was nobody to block. Hurts escapes the pocket way too quickly. At the very least he needs to sit in the pocket a few seconds longer before escaping the pocket. This was just really really bad.
Hurts also missed a few easy reads to Sanders for a TD and for a first down. And missed a few other throws, but I think you guys get the point with the clips shown above. Despite the harsh criticism, we do need to understand that Hurts is a rookie after all. Young electric QB’s tend to have trouble dialing themselves back. It’s something he needs to work on, but he is certainly not the first mobile QB to have these issues. We also need to understand that Hurts was really really good in his first 2 starts. This game does not define who he is or who he will be as a Quarterback in the future. I am just simply highlighting some flaws that he will need to work on, which are very fixable.
To take some positives away from this game, we can say it’s clear the respect that Jalen’s legs demand. Having safeties spy instead of LB’s can really open things up for the offense if Hurts can learn to be comfortable in the pocket. You are not gonna have to worry about a safety pushing the pocket, or if you chose to run a RB draw, or even a QB draw you will have a huge advantage with a guy like Mailata out in space. Outside of that I thought Hurts made some tremendous throws and also commanded respect in the running game which really helped sanders out in that regard. I’ll leave a couple clips down below.
So in conclusion, there was some good and some bad. After all, the best way to get better is to take your lumps. Back in one of my older Mailata pieces I talked about the idea of teaching tape. Teaching tape of what NOT to do is equally as important as teaching tape of what to do. These mistakes from Jalen should be pretty simple to fix with experience and hard work. Hurts will likely have an equally tough task next week with the vaunted Washington front 7, however it is a chance for him to take a step in the right direction.