Jalen Hurts last week became the first Eagles quarterback in a decade to rush for 100 yards. Will he be a major part of the run game again Sunday against Arizona? Or will he be a decoy? And what about the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray, who has 10 rushing touchdowns and 29 runs of 10 yards or more?
Battle of the running quarterbacks
--Hurts rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries Sunday against the Saints. Three of those runs were game-ending kneel-downs. Of his 15 actual runs, he had 4 scrambles that gained 50 yards, 6 designed runs that gained 22, and 5 zone-reads that picked up 38.
--Hurts had 7 of the Eagles’ 11 rushing first downs against the Saints and has a total of 13 this season. Carson Wentz has 25. The Eagles have 93 total rushing first downs. So Wentz and Hurts have accounted for 40.9% of them. Their 38 combined rushing first downs are four more than Miles Sanders has (34).
--Hurts was the first Eagles quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game in a decade. The last one to do it: Michael Vick on December 19, 2010 against the Giants. It was just the 9th 100-yard rushing performance by an Eagles QB in more than 40 years. Donovan McNabb and Randall Cunningham each had 3. Vick did it twice.
--Hurts’ 18 rushing attempts were the most by an Eagles quarterback in a game since at least 1980.
--Kyler Murray is 18th in the league in rushing with 712 yards. He’s tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns with 10. Murray and running back Kenyan Drake have accounted for 19 of the Cardinals’ 20 rushing touchdowns.
--Murray has 29 runs of 10 yards or more, which is the fourth most in the league. He’s tied for ninth in rushing first downs (46). He’s tied with the Patriots’ Cam Newton for the most rushing first downs by a quarterback.
--In the one year he spent at Oklahoma, Hurts rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries (5.6 yards per carry). In his one season as a starter at OU, Murray rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns on 140 carries (7.2 yards per carry).
The pass defense
--Opposing quarterbacks had a 111.1 passer rating against the Eagles in the last three games. In the previous six games, it was 93.2. QBs had a 72.8 completion percentage and 7.9 yards-per-attempt average against the Eagles in the last three games. In the previous six, it was 64.6% and 6.8.
--In the last three games, the opponents’ top wideout – the Saints’ Michael Thomas, the Packers Davante Adams and the Seahawks’ DK Metcalf – were targeted a combined 33 times and had 28 catches for 382 yards, though they averaged just 10.1 yards per catch.
--The Eagles will be missing both of their starting corners Sunday against Arizona – Darius Slay and Avonte Maddox. Maddox was placed on IR this week with a knee injury. Slay still is recovering from a concussion and didn’t make the trip to the desert.
--Slay had been traveling with the opposing team’s top wideout this season. But Jim Schwartz will have to come up with an alternative against the Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 94 catches for 1,155 yards and 5 TDs. It’s the fourth straight year and the sixth time in the last seven years that he’s had 1,000 receiving yards.
--Hopkins had 9 catches for 136 yards in the Cardinals’ 26-7 win over the Giants last week. But in the previous three games, he was held to 8.8 yards per catch.
--The Eagles had 5 sacks against the Saints and have 43 this season. Only the Steelers, with 45, have more. The Eagles have 3 or more sacks in 9 of their 13 games. They’ve had 4 or more sacks 4 times. They are 3-0-1 in those 4 games.
--Three of the Eagles’ 5 sacks against the Saints came in the fourth quarter, including 2 by Josh Sweat.
--Jim Schwartz blitzed on just 5 of 43 pass plays against the Saints (11.6%). In the last 4 games, he sent extra rushers on just 15 of 137 pass plays (10.9%).
--Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave is starting to get the hang of Schwartz’s one-gap system. He had 3 sacks in the last 2 games.
--The Eagles have given up 19 touchdown passes this season. That’s tied for the seventh-fewest in the league. They gave up 27 last year, 22 in 2018, 24 in 2017 and 25 in 2016.
--The Eagles gave up touchdown passes to tight ends in each of the last 2 games. Tight ends have caught 8 of the 19 TD passes the Eagles have given up this season.
Miles to go
--Miles Sanders’ 82-yard touchdown run against the Saints last week was his third run of 70-plus yards this season. There have been only 8 other 70-plus runs in the league. Packers running back Aaron Jones is the only other player with more than one (2).
--Sanders is fourth in the league in yards per carry (5.7). But that average has been built largely on those 3 long runs. He’s averaging just 4.0 yards per carry on his other 129 rushing attempts. Sixty-eight of those 129 runs (52.7%) have gained 3 yards or less. He has just 12 other 10-plus-yard runs besides the 3 long ones.
--Sanders is averaging just 13.2 rushing attempts per game this season. That’s just 2 carries a game more than last year. He had 38 carries in his first 2 games after missing the season-opener. In the 8 games he’s played since then (he missed 3 with a knee injury), he has averaged 11.7 rush attempts.
--The Eagles have averaged just 24.3 rushing attempts per game this season. That’s the seventh-lowest average in the league. They had 36 carries last week against the Saints, but 18 of them were by Hurts. It was only the second time this season they’ve had 30 or more runs in a game.
--Sanders was a big part of the Eagles’ passing game last season. Targeted 63 times by Carson Wentz, he had 50 catches and 3 touchdowns and averaged 10.2 yards per catch. Nineteen of his 50 catches produced first downs. This year, he has just 23 catches on 44 targets and no TDs. He is averaging just 6.3 yards per catch and has only 7 receiving first downs.