Second-round rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts was active for the first time Sunday, and the speculation held true -- the Eagles did indeed have a package of plays in mind. Only those plays didn’t involve Hurts' actually touching the ball.
On the Eagles' two second-quarter touchdown drives, Hurts lined up for about three total snaps as a running back or wide receiver. In each situation, coach Doug Pederson seemed to want the visiting Los Angeles Rams to think that the ball was going to Hurts, a dynamic athlete. But he was a decoy, most successfully when Carson Wentz pumped to Hurts before hitting tight end Dallas Goedert for 10 yards, from the Los Angeles 18 to the 8, three snaps before Wentz sneaked in from the 1 for the Eagles' first touchdown.
“It’s a starting point, as something we’ll evaluate each week,” Pederson said after the 37-19 loss.
Hurts was inactive last week, in favor of veteran backup Nate Sudfeld, but he and Sudfeld switched places Sunday.
The Eagles' inactives Sunday included edge rusher Genard Avery, who got a half-sack last week at Washington. Avery cost the team a fourth-round pick last year in a trade with Cleveland. Seventh-round rookie Casey Toohill took his place. The other inactives were wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot), running back Jason Huntley, and offensive linemen Jamon Brown and Sua Opeta.
Corner Trevor Williams, brought up from the practice squad, was active and ended up coming in when Darius Slay left with an injury that is not believed to be serious.
This time, the Eagles were on the field for the national anthem; last week they stayed in the locker room. Rodney McLeod and Darius Slay kneeled; Malik Jackson and a player who was not in uniform -- it seemed to be just -acquired offensive lineman Jamon Brown -- raised their fists.
You would not have known DeSean Jackson played for the Eagles in the first half, in which the player with the fourth-most receiving yardage in franchise history was not targeted with a pass.
That changed abruptly in the third quarter, Wentz throwing four of his first five passes toward Jackson, completing three, including a 9-yard gain on third-and-6 from the Rams' 30, which set up Wentz’s instantly infamous interception on a pass to JJ Arcega-Whiteside.
Jackson finished the day with six second-half catches on nine targets, for 64 yards, including a 25-yarder that was the Eagles' longest gain of the afternoon. He was not made available to reporters afterward.
“We had a couple things designed up early. Ball just didn’t go his way from a progression standpoint,” Doug Pederson said. “Made a conscious effort at halftime as one of our adjustments to get him going in the second half. Felt like we did a good job there.
"He’s an explosive guy that can make some plays. A little bit was the coverage. Other times, it was play design. The ball was going somewhere else. But we’ll continue to get him involved with the offense.”
Carson Wentz said the Rams focused on taking away the deep ball.
Asked about his 13-for-13 start, Rams quarterback Jared Goff noted that the running game was working, which fuels Los Angeles’ passing game, and also, “we had guys open.”