Coming off a disappointing Week 9 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure I was not the only Eagles fan feeling frustrated but simultaneously hopeful for the rest of the 2021 season.
The schedule looks much better and the tandem of Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni definitely seems to be growing and turning in some good performances lately. The win against Denver was one of the most fun ones since the Week 1 victory over Atlanta. Let’s get to the report card!
PS: Those uniforms were unbelievable and the team looked like they carried a certain level of extra swag with these new uniforms!
Jalen Hurts: 16/23 for 178 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He also ran 14 times for an additional 53 yards.
While watching this game, I thought to myself…”We got something here”. Many of the criticisms Hurts has faced have been related to his reluctance to stand in the pocket and go through his progressions as a passer. Against Denver, we saw that development. He looked confident. He delivered some great passes, he stood tall. This was definitely the Jalen we’ve been waiting for and he is only getting better. My favorite play of the game (other than the first touchdown to the Slim Reaper) was the 31 yard run. He wants to be a pocket passer, but he also is a great runner. He saw his chance and the defenders had their backs turned to him. I felt like that run was almost symbolic. Everyone is overlooking his ability. Meanwhile, he’s having a good season considering this is his first year as a starter. The interception and the pass that was broken up by Smith definitely hurt his overall game, but he still played very well. I am still pretty mad for him (and at Quez) for that dropped touchdown before the second half.
Grade: A, highly encouraging performances get A’s. What else do you want here?
Jordan Howard: 12 carries for 83 yards, Boston Scott: 11 carries for 81 yards
Man, I absolutely love this tandem. The Philly Blitz crew was going back and forth about this topic and a few of us said it: These two guys get you the consistent yards. If there’s 6 yards to gain, they get the 6 yards. There may be some chunk gains thrown in there, but typically there aren’t huge 70-yard bursts like you see with Miles Sanders. The Eagles new 1-2 duo at RB seem to be playing right into the system. No wasted motion, no dancing east-west type of runs. They get up field and keep the offense on track. There’s something to be happy about when you see that consistently. They work well together, and they really kept Denver out of this game in the second half. Every time Jordan got the ball, you felt like Denver knew the game was over. That man needs to be extended ASAP!
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
The Slim Reaper Devonta Smith: 4 receptions on 6 targets, 66 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 amazing PBU.
Let’s talk about that pass breakup first. He played it perfectly and saved Hurts big time. He’s such a smart football player, it hardly gets talked about. We all applaud his route-running prowess. But the kid knows football and he plays it extremely well. Both of his touchdowns were fun, that first one was an unbelievable play on a perfect pass from Jalen Hurts. The chemistry is getting better every week and these two are going to be a problem in this league very soon. Smith definitely has Eagles fans excited more than any other WR the Eagles have had since the days of young DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.
Quez’s drop was bad, but he has made so many big plays and circus catches. He hardly ever drops a pass and he’s come along very well for a late round developmental talent. I’m mad for him that he dropped it and his sideline frustration was sad to see, but he’ll get back to his play making capabilities and he’ll be fine.
Grade: A for Devonta, C+ for the rest of the group.
The entire group: gave up 1 sack, minimal pressure the entire game.
The group played very well. I typically don’t have much to say about the OL, which is a good thing. No news is good news. We had a couple scares during the game with Iron Man Kelce and Landon Dickerson, but both seem to be fine now. This offensive line is a consistently good unit under Stoutland, regardless of who is out there.
Darius Slay: 5 total tackles, 1 clutch fumble recovery for a touchdown
TJ Edwards: 7 total tackles, 1 pass breakup
I’m finally praising the cornerbacks on this team! But before that…the Eagles played press-man coverage much more than usual. Let that sink in. Jonathan Gannon made the most necessary adjustment there was to make, and the Eagles played much better because of it. Once he let up and let old habits take over, the Broncos started to put some nice drives together until Gannon shifted again and took control back.
Slay’s touchdown was phenomenal and could not have happened at a better time in the game, considering how close Denver looked to pulling off the comeback at that point. T.J. Edwards flies to the ball, sheds his blocks, and makes impactful plays. He’s starting to become one of my favorite Eagles. He’s just consistent and he plays with some serious intensity. The defense as a unit looked good. Was it perfect? No. But we’re in the NFL. Not some madden simulation. Better is good enough for me. Slow progress, my friends. Plus, Gannon’s willingness to adjust is encouraging on its own. Lord knows the stubbornness this franchise had been plagued with for many of the last few seasons.
Grade: B+ for Gannon’s lack of stubbornness and Darius’s clutch TD.
Jake Elliot: 3/3 on FG attempts, 3/3 on XP attempts
Once again, he has looked good. He had a rough year in 2020, but he’s on track to have his best season in the NFL. He still has credit for that 61 yard make in 2017 that catapulted the Eagles to their eventual Super Bowl Victory. But it’s nice to see him bounce back this year.
Grade: A+ for reliability and improvement from 2020
Coach Sirianni seems to be hitting his stride as a play-caller and game planner. He’s finding balance with the run game and pass game. He’s putting his guys in good positions. He’s taking the occasional risk. Would it be the Philadelphia Eagles if our head coach didn’t throw a challenge flag when it was clear he would lose it? No. But hey, he likes the same music as Jalen Hurts, so we’ll give him a pass for that. As long as the music they both like isn’t country.
Gannon showed some new looks, played press-man coverage1, and really gave this Denver offense a problem. I’m impressed for now. He still has to show some consistency and use the players he has to the best of his ability. But I think he’s slowly earning himself a chance to get his personnel and show his entire playbook in 2022 and beyond.