The Eagles showed life late, but came up short against the San Francisco 49ers, losing 17-11 on Sunday. A week after a blowout win in Atlanta, the team’s home-opener was a slog in which the Eagles offense came up short.
Here’s our instant analysis of the Eagles’ loss:
Squandered scoring chances
The Eagles dominated the first 28 minutes of the first half, but went into the locker room trailing.
Several missed scoring opportunities, including a turnover on downs from the 49ers’ 3-yard line and a blocked field goal, squandered a mostly strong first half. The Eagles out-gained the 49ers 204 yards to 161 and their defense played well for most of the half, but gave up a 12-play, 97-yard drive at the end of the second quarter.
The Niners’ scoring drive came after the Eagles failed to capitalize on Quez Watkins’ 91-yard catch to start the previous drive. The series ended on fourth down when coach Nick Sirianni called a double-reverse passing play reminiscent of the Philly Special. This time, Smith took a handoff from Hurts and promptly pitched it backward to Greg Ward. Ward looked for Hurts, but panicked when the Eagles quarterback was covered in the end zone. Ward inexplicably threw the ball away instead of trying to run for the score, causing the turnover on downs.
Considering the Eagles had first-and-goal from the 49ers 1-yard line, ending the series without a score feels like one of the turning points in the game.
Brandons banged up
The Eagles’ clean injury report wasn’t going to last forever. Both Brandon Graham and Brandon Brooks left with injuries and were ruled out by the third quarter. Brooks jogged off the field during the second quarter grabbing his chest/shoulder area and holding his arm gingerly. Landon Dickerson, active for the first time in his NFL career after recovering from a torn ACL suffered last December, came in for Brooks.
Graham left with a non-contact injury during the final drive of the first half. He was carted off from the sideline after getting helped off the field by trainers. He wasn’t able to put weight on his left leg. The Inquirer has confirmed the injury is a torn Achillies.
Aside from a few players, the Eagles have evaded the injury bug better than they have in years past, but they lost two established leaders quickly on Sunday.
How about Hurts?
Following a promising performance in the season opener, Hurts turned in a somewhat positive showing against the Niners. He had a handful of well-placed passes, including the deep pass to Watkins and another rainbow to Jalen Reagor that was called back because of an illegal touching penalty. Late in the game, he hit Dallas Goedert near the end zone with a perfectly placed pass between two defenders. Hurts also managed the pocket well, evading 49ers rushers to extend plays and he rushed for 82 yards and a score.
But it wasn’t all pretty from the second-year quarterback. Hurts underthrew receivers downfield a few times. He couldn’t connect with DeVonta Smith twice and missed Reagor during a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a punt. Hurts had the shortest intended air yards in the league during Week 1, indicating that he was willing to take the open underneath stuff the Falcons were giving up. Against the Niners, when he needed to drive the ball down the field, there were mixed results.
It’s safe to say Hurts’ arrow is still pointing in the right direction, but he will have to prove he’s able to consistently complete passes down the field this season to earn the franchise quarterback label he’s auditioning for.
Watkins has the best jets
Watkins’ speed has always been undeniable, but now he can back his claims up with player-tracking data. At least for a short time, Watkins can call himself the fastest man in the NFL after hitting 21.62 miles per hour on a 91-yard catch from Jalen Hurts in the second quarter.
With the Eagles pinned on their own 3, Watkins beat 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir for the explosive play.
Watkins’ speed, recorded by Next Gen Stats, is the fastest in the league so far. Last year’s top speed was 23.09 by Raheem Mostert.