Jalen Hurts targeted three players during the Eagles’ 33-13 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert.
That was it.
While we know the Eagles’ pass game runs through those three players, this is the first time we’ve ever seen a game where the other players didn’t get targeted once. Quez Watkins played 25 snaps without a target. Olamide Zaccheaus played 15 snaps and was targeted just on a fake punt. And Julio Jones played 13 snaps without a target.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Philadelphia sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
“Our passing game runs through three guys,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “That doesn't mean we don't want to get the ball to some other guys here and there, but the main passing game goes through those guys. The Cowboys and the style of defense they run, which is obviously a very good defense, allows you to kind of get the ball to where we were going with it.
“That's where the ball was designed to go. It has nothing to do with anything else. We wanted to get A.J. going. We wanted to get DeVonta and Dallas the ball. Every plan is thought of through that. I've said that from the very beginning. That was our plan in that game, and obviously we didn't win the game. We didn't play well enough on offense. We didn't coach well enough on offense. That was by design to throw those guys the football, and that's why the football went there.”
To be clear, target share wasn’t the problem with the offense on Sunday in another blowout loss to drop the Eagles to 10-3.
The Eagles managed to score just 6 points on offense but had opportunities for more had Hurts, Brown and Smith not fumbled. And those top receivers also had a couple of drops that could have turned the tide of offense. In this game, it might have made some sense to throw to the backs.
But it’s hard to figure out if targeting three players is necessarily a bad thing. Because if the Eagles were forcing the ball to Watkins, that wouldn’t make much sense either. And there have been times this year when the Eagles have been criticized for not getting the ball to Goedert.
This was extreme, though. It is the only time all season just four Eagles have seen a target in a game. And the Eagles are one of just five teams in the NFL who have just five players with 20+ targets on the season. They’re not spreading the ball around as much as other teams, which isn’t necessarily bad when you have marquee players. Although, the Eagles do want to make sure their offense isn’t predictable.
Sirianni on Tuesday responded to a report from veteran Eagles reporter Derrick Gunn that an unnamed player thought the Eagles’ offense had become predictable and plays aren’t designed to help Hurts get the ball out of his hand quickly.
“We obviously don't think so as coaches,” Sirianni said. “We'll continue to work on making sure that we're meshing things together, that, hey, this looks like that so there is not a beat on anything. Or this marries to that and the defense can't get a beat on that because if they do, they're going to get beat on this. So, we'll work like crazy on that.
“There are different things you want to do. There are times you want to get the ball out fast. Times you want to push it down the field. Times you want to get chunks by throwing it underneath. Times you want to get chunks by throwing it over the top. Times you want to get chunks throwing it intermediate. So, all things are true. You can't be predictable in anything you do.”