Jalen Hurts only saw seven snaps on Sunday but it’s what he did with those limited touches that have everyone drooling. The rookie quarterback doesn’t appear to be a threat to Carson Wentz, although the likelihood of an increased role is generating buzz. Hurts’ presence on the field in a decoy role seemed to ignite a stagnant offense in Week 6.
Wait, back the train up. Hurts only totaled 23 yards on two carries. He was also part of an awkwardly long trick play where he played pitch-and-catch with Wentz who was lined up as a receiver. That one netted just three yards but it put the Ravens’ defense on its toes, causing them extra stress and making them watch out for the Eagles’ decoy.
“I think Jalen’s a playmaker. You bring him in off the bench and defenses have to be ready for him,” Wentz told reporters. “He’s at where I’m at and all of the above and I think it puts a little stress and a little pressure on the defense. There are some exciting plays potentially there to be had.”
The most noticeable “exciting play” came when Hurts was split out wide and faked a jet sweep. It forced the defense to collapse around the Heisman Trophy runner-up and left Miles Sanders room to rumble for 74 yards seemingly untouched down the sideline. Philly scored a touchdown, via a fumble recovery, on the play.
“It’s something that we’re going to keep repping, keep working on,” Wentz said, “and hopefully find ways to supplement our offense and find ways to get some big plays that way.”
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Doug Pederson Hints at Increased Role
Wentz wasn’t the only person hyping up the rookie’s performance. Eagles coach Doug Pederson sensed his offense needed a spark, especially in the run game and seized the moment. Backed up deep in their own territory with 5:32 to go in the second quarter, Hurts took the direct snap and plowed ahead for 20 yards. More impressively, Wentz was the lead blocker on the play from his spot at wide receiver.
“Just felt it was the right time to get him in the game,” Pederson told reporters after the game. “At the time we had been struggling a little bit offensively, especially running the football, and gave us an opportunity to do that with him.”
The Eagles wouldn’t score on that drive but the decision to use Hurts helped confuse the defense later in the game. Expect Pederson to throw his rookie toy a few more snaps in what he’s termed “X Plays.”
“He’s part of the game plan every week,” Pederson said. “Just had to find a spark and got him in the football game. It kind of calmed the defense down a little bit, too. There wasn’t as much pressure when he was in the game at quarterback.”
‘I Can See Things Continuing’ for Hurts
Pederson doubled down on his intention to get Hurts more involved on offense by hinting at a larger set of plays for him. While he wouldn’t commit to a 20-play package, as one reporter alluded to, the head coach hinted at upping the load from his most recent workload of seven plays.
“It’s something that we’re definitely going to continue to explore each week, if it’s conducive; it has been successful for us, and I could see things continuing each week that way,” Pederson told reporters. “I think it’s something that we’ve got to continue to explore. It does give us the ability to run the football with him, so he’s like another — I don’t want to say he’s another running back, but he’s a quarterback that can run the zone-read plays from the quarterback position.”
It’s not unthinkable to see Hurts handling a dozen plays per game. To put that in perspective, gadget-play specialist Taysom Hill is averaging 17 plays per game this year for New Orleans. Hurts is stuck on 19 offensive snaps through six weeks.
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