Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles overreactions: Why Hurts' best play Sunday was boring

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The Eagles steamrolled a fraudulent New York Giants team on Sunday for their 12th win of the season, clinching a playoff berth and reminding everyone that they're best team in the NFL.

It was the kind of electric performance from Jalen Hurts & Co. that gets a fanbase giddy. Hurts continues to look like one of the best quarterbacks in football at 24 years old. It's a spectacular development for the franchise.

It's hard not to get hyperbolic when you're talking about a 12-1 team, so let's overreact to yet another victory:

1. The Eagles have the best WR duo in the NFL

The Eagles for so long floundered with subpar talent at wide receiver. Greg Ward Jr. Nelson Agholor. Jalen Reagor. Jordan Matthews. The names go on for a while. It was a pretty fallow period.

And then, in a matter of two consecutive draft nights, they fixed the position for the next five-plus years.

There are some pretty good wide receiver duos out there - the Bengals and Dolphins give me some pause - but I'm tempted to call A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith the best in the NFL. Sunday was a great demonstration of just how good these two are.

The Eagles' first touchdown pass of the day was an underrated play by Smith, a masterclass in concentration and balance after using his elite separation ability to beat his man:

Smith's effortless release off the line is sometimes easy to overlook because he makes getting open look so dang easy. He plays wide receiver like he's going for a Sunday jog, except suddenly he's in the end zone dropping six points on a DB's head. 

And then you have Brown, the ultimate power bomb yin to Smith's yang, a bowling ball of a player who has been among the best offensive players in the league all year long.

Brown's known for his hands and his physicality, but he's also fast as hell and a precise executor, which is why when the FOX camera found him in the secondary on Jalen Hurts' second touchdown pass he was just absurdly wide open:

If you leave Brown in single coverage, you will pay. It's as simple as that.

So why would a team even consider doing that? Because of Smith. And Quez Watkins. And, when he returns, Dallas Goedert. And because you have to account for Jalen Hurts' ability to scoot.

What an absolute nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. 

Oh, and Brown is 25 years old and Smith is 24 years old.

Tremendous.

2. Jalen Hurts is becoming great at being boring

One of Jalen Hurts' best attributes is that he's really good at simply running an offense.

The obvious highlights of Sunday's win will be his huge touchdown passes to Smith and Brown, or his numerous runs, but my favorite part of Hurts' game vs. the Giants was the Eagles' first drive of the game.

The Birds held on to the ball for eight minutes. Hurts went 9-for-10 for 64 yards, didn't have a pass longer than 13 yards, and worked the ball to seven different players. It was the kind of precise, methodical drive you expect from a Tom Brady-type and it showcased exactly how much Hurts has grown as a passer from 2021 to 2022.

One throw in particular really caught my eye as a single-play encapsulation of this progress. Look at this absolutely perfect third down throw to Smith:

That's not leading SportsCenter tomorrow morning, but it's exactly the kind of throw you want - and frankly need - your quarterback to execute.

Those are the kinds of throws that win football games. They give you more short, workable third downs and they keep your punter on the sidelines. The placement on that pass is just superb, out of harm's way and exactly where Smith expects it. Hurts throws it before Smith is coming out of his break. That's textbook film room stuff, the kind of throw an offensive coordinator will show young QBs as an example of winning football.

Hurts' ability to freeze defenses with his legs is excellent, as his great deep ball placement. But his growth as an every-down passer has been such a huge win for the Eagles, and is a big part of why I have no doubt that he's the face of the franchise for the next decade. 

3. I'm running out of things to say about this team

The Eagles have put me in a bit of a tough spot. Each week I write three overreactions to the week's game, and over the last two seasons I had a little bit of everything: the good, the bad, the ugly. They kept me on my toes, and there were usually some things to grouse about. 

Right now, they're just way too good. At one point on Sunday I realize I had no idea what to say that I haven't already said about their excellence. Each game has a certain sense of inevitability, the knowledge that the Eagles are just better than whichever team they happen to be playing.

How unconcerned was I during yet another win?

I accidentally hit the G key instead of the H key on my keyboard and then spent 30 seconds during the third quarter thinking about how funny it would be if Jalen Hurts' name was Jalen Gurts. I decided Jalen Gurts would not be a starter-level quarterback.

It hasn't felt like this in Philadelphia since those back-to-back-to-back-to-back NFC Championship game appearances in the early 2000s, and I wasn't even a teenager at the time. This is a uniquely new experience for adult Adam, and I'd imagine it's a uniquely new experience for a lot of Eagles fans: in numerous games this year there's been so little at stake by the time the second half rolls around.

I'm left wondering if this is what Patriots fans experienced for nearly two decades during Tom Brady's reign. It's strange. I like it, but it's going to take some time to get used to the relative relaxation.

Until the playoffs, of course. Then it'll get nice and spicy.

For now, enjoy the ride as the Birds keep piling up the points.

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