The Philadelphia Eagles need a huge leap from Jalen Hurts in Year 2. Head coach Nick Sirianni has preached all offseason about the strides his starting quarterback needs to take as a passer.
Hurts went out to California, with Sirianni’s blessing, to work on fundamentals: getting his feet right, working on his release, improving accuracy and timing, better trajectory on his deep ball, and making quicker decisions. But all that hard work in the offseason hasn’t exactly shown up through the first few days of training camp.
It’s not that Hurts has looked bad. He has three interceptions in four practices. Sirianni took reporters through each miscue during his media availability on August 1:
“He missed the throw to Marcus [Epps]. He missed it a little inside. His hip was a little bit locked. It wasn’t opened up the way he needed on the left side. He missed that throw. He made a bad decision on the scramble when he threw it late back across his body.
“We wanted him to take Kenny [Gainwell] there and then – it was a third-down play. You don’t have to get it all back here. We’ll go for it on fourth-and-one. And then the third one was a great individual play by Avonte [Maddox] on the pick, but we would like him to check that down.”
Remember, summer practices are scripted and graded on a curve. Coaches expect mistakes and look for teachable moments. It’s how the player responds that really matters. One problem Sirianni pointed out was Hurts’ decision making. Two of those interceptions were preventable.
“So, two of them were bad decisions. One was a bad decision in the pocket. One of them was a bad decision on the move,” Sirianni said. “The other one was he just missed the throw and Marcus [Epps] actually made an unbelievable play. So, you want to eliminate – you’re going to miss some throws, right? – but you want to eliminate the ones that you get not mad about, but the ones you’re really correcting hard are the ones that are the poor decisions.”
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Passing Offense Looks ‘Pretty Good’ Right Now
It’s way too early to panic about the Eagles’ offense. Minus the turnovers, there has been a noticeable crispness to the vertical game. Receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are making contested catches while Quez Watkins states his claim for “fastest guy in the NFL.” Dallas Goedert is doing Dallas Goedert things.
“I think that it looks pretty good right now, that we’re going the right place with the football,” Sirianni said of the passing offense. “We have guys that are making contested catches. Would you want to eliminate a couple of the turnovers? Absolutely. There are a couple too many turnovers in there. That’s where my biggest concern is.”
Sirianni continued: “But spacing has been good. I’ve said it a couple times in the meeting room, ‘this is exactly how this play is supposed to look, this is exactly how this play is supposed to look.’ I think about that, and how much further ahead we are than we were last year at this time.”
Don’t Forget About Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders is running with renewed purpose – and trying to earn “respect” – in a contract year. He ripped off two huge gainers at Monday’s session, while shouting in the general direction of the media. The fourth-year running back is the unquestioned starter.
Sanders did drop a would-be touchdown during 11-on-11 drills on Tuesday. He’ll need to clean that up in order to fully be trusted. Kenny Gainwell has been splitting out wide in certain formations this summer. He has great hands.
Meanwhile, Sanders is due a contract extension and those talks – at least publicly – have been non-existent. The Eagles may be waiting to see how fast he starts before heading to the negotiation table. Sirianni doesn’t think the contract stuff will affect Sanders one way or the other.
“Everyone is motivated through different things,” Sirianni told reporters. “The best players in my mind are motivated because they love the game. That’s how I see Miles [Sanders]. He loves the game and he wants to do everything he can do to be successful with it.”