Greetings, embattled Eagles fans. Can’t promise things are going to get any better for you this weekend when the 3-8-1 Birds welcome the 10-2 New Orleans Saints to the Linc. Can promise you there is something interesting to follow, as quarterback Jalen Hurts makes his NFL starting debut, probably against Taysom Hill. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is close to coming back from those eleventy-billion broken ribs or whatever, but probably not close enough to play this week. (And the Saints, with Super Bowl aspirations, frankly don’t need to rush him back just to beat the Eagles.)
The Eagles are unlikely to score enough points to win, whether Hurts plays well or not. Their offense is pathetic, which is why Carson Wentz has been benched and why center Jason Kelce unleashed an epic rant Wednesday.
More on that in a minute, but first, if you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @lesbowen.
— Les Bowen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Somebody finally gets mad
Something has been missing during this miserable Eagles season, when coaches and players have talked about the Eagles’ offensive struggles. We’ve heard a lot about needing to look into mirrors. We’ve had a bunch of hats tipped to the opposition. We’ve had acknowledgments that everyone involved needs to do better. We’ve heard of errant passes, drops, missed blocks, or play calls that the various authors “would like to have back.”
What we hadn’t heard much, until Kelce stepped to the lectern Wednesday, was genuine anger and embarrassment. There is no good reason that the Eagles’ attack should be this pathetic, regardless of the offensive-line injuries, or anything else.
As Marcus Hayes skillfully lays out in his column, Kelce wanted to make sure we knew that, while Wentz is far from blameless, this is a complete organizational failure. Not a setback, not a learning experience, not a misstep on the road to success, but a failure. A ridiculous failure.
Kelce talked of how Wentz transformed the Eagles from the time he arrived in 2016 — “the intelligence he brings, athleticism he brings, the competitiveness he brings made a tangible difference in practice every day and on game day. So it’s kind of hard to believe that we’re at this point now, to be honest with you. This season has not gone the way any of us obviously anticipated, or we’d like it to have gone. But sitting here at 3-8-1, we got to do something. You got to try and make a change or whatever, and obviously the offense has been absolutely terrible, the last four weeks in particular.”
Kelce spoke of “a failure of pretty much every position, including the coaches, to facilitate a functioning offense.” It’s crucial that Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman, and Jeffrey Lurie understand this, and stop talking about the lack of an offseason program, or the rash of injuries. Drastic change is needed, and we’re not just talking here about playing Hurts against the Saints.
Reagor is doing the work
It still might not be on the level of Justin Jefferson or CeeDee Lamb, but Jalen Reagor had one of the best games of his young career Sunday against the Packers.
The first-round rookie receiver had just one catch on one target, a 34-yard grab from Hurts in the fourth quarter. But he followed that up with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown, pulling the Eagles to within one score, however briefly.
What was the big difference for Reagor last weekend?
“Just kind of honing in on my technique that I worked on all week in practice,” Reagor said. “And just carrying it on to the game, and then actually using it, and as you guys say, getting separation. That’s pretty much what I did — going through drills with [wide receivers coach Aaron] Moorehead and applying those things to the game.”
What you need to know about the Eagles
Turns out the Saints, in addition to being 10-2, have this Malcolm Jenkins fellow, whose absence here has been a bit of an issue. Jenkins has thoughts on this, as Jeff McLane reports.
In case you missed the link above for Hayes’ column on the sermon Kelce delivered Wednesday, here it is again.
Read about what Hurts thinks of his “great opportunity,” and also why he dressed like the Houston Astros’ batboy to be introduced as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
EJ Smith tells us that now, with a rookie starting quarterback, Pederson says he thinks running the ball might be prudent.
From the mailbag
What happens if Jalen Hurts is just OK? — @alex252 on Twitter
Given the quality of the opposition, Alex, I would say this would at least buy him another week. I mean, if he goes out and shreds the 10-2 Saints, then it’s his team, at least for the rest of this season. I think Hurts will make some plays and scramble around, but I can’t imagine the offense will suddenly become real potent against such a good defense, with Jenkins on the other side of the line, diagnosing plays as the offense lines up.
I think Hurts has to really look bad not to start the next week at Arizona.