Doug Pederson hyped up running the “read-option” play with dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts last week. Then, the explosive rookie’s workload decreased in Week 7, from seven snaps to five, but one particular play caught the attention of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush.
Hurts ran it just two times for two yards, including a read-option that fooled no one on the Giants’ defense. Bush called it out as a “predictable play” and cautioned the Eagles about getting Hurts injured. Bush serves as an analyst for FOX Sports.
“Eagles need to stop bringing Jalen Hurts in for that very predictable play,” Bush wrote on Twitter. “Everybody knows it’s going to be read option we get it he can run, but this isn’t college football anymore your going to get him injured.”
Pederson had teased reporters last week about calling more of those read-option plays on offense. The organization sees Hurts more of a threat out of the backfield than under center, especially with starter Miles Sanders out for a few weeks. Hurts was supposed to pick up some of the slack at running back.
“I think it’s something that we’ve got to continue to explore,” Pederson told reporters on Oct. 19. “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.”
Bush is the same guy best remembered by Eagles fans for being knocked out cold in a highlight-reel play delivered from hard-hitting Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown during a 2006 NFC divisional playoff game. To Bush’s credit, he walked it off but it was a play that probably would be deemed illegal today. Brown later said of the play: “I thought I was going to die.”
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Hurts Not Part of Gameplan, Hakeem Butler’s Role
Many thought Pederson was going to dial up a creative play-call for Hurts on a 4th-and-goal late in the fourth quarter with the Eagles trailing by four points. They needed four yards so the entire playbook was open, a la carte style. Nope.
They ran a fade route for new tight end (and converted wide receiver) Hakeem Butler who was uncovered for a few seconds before Logan Ryan ran over. Carson Wentz’s pass was too low and fell incomplete.
The refs probably should have thrown the flag for pass interference — tons of hand-checking and shirt-grabbing from Ryan — but no laundry flew onto the field. It didn’t help that Butler was initially lined up on the wrong side of the formation, to the left.
“When he got back over to the right side of the field or the right side of the formation, he was uncovered,” Pederson said. “When we snapped the ball, the defender had gotten back over there just in enough time to really knock the ball away. He’s a big, athletic guy and we put that play in specifically for him and the Giants made a play.”
Hurts Compared to Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones
Hurts played at Alabama so the comparisons to similarly athletically-gifted quarterbacks, like Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, are going to be thrown out faster than hatchets at an ax-throwing competition.
Current Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith explained the differences between Hurts, Tagovailoa and Jones since he has caught passes from all three of them. Smith is projected to be a first-round pick (paging Howie Roseman?) in the 2021 draft.
“I would say just the way some of them approach the game,” Smith told Bush, via USA Today. “Tua will see something mid-play. Like motioning somebody. Mac is more of a ‘we’re going to stick to it and if this happens, we’re going to check to what it’s supposed to be.’ Jalen was just a student of the game. He would wait until the next play and tell us because when it came back, we’d be ready for it.”
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