December 10, 2023

Eagles drop preseason Game 1 to Steelers, Jalen Hurts looks promising


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A promising start for Jalen Hurts, a physical display from the first-team defense, and the craziest Jake Elliott stat ever.

The 2021 Eagles began Thursday night with a 24-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but for most of the players who are actually going to make the 53-man roster, it was a promising debut.

Although things got ugly in the second half when the garbage time players went in, this looked like a smart, disciplined, prepared football team while the first and second-team units were on the field. And considering that this was the first game Sirianni has ever coached as a head coach, that’s encouraging.

The offense ran efficiently, the defense was tough and physical, no turnovers, no missed tackles, good coverage for the most part, no penalties while the first units were on the field, and the Birds just looked like they had a pretty good idea of what they were doing.

In the big picture it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s definitely a good sign to see this level of football from a new team with a new staff running new schemes. Especially considering the short practices and lack of live periods so far in camp.

Sirianni had them ready and that goes for the first shift for the short period of time they were out there as well as the two’s.

A nice debut for Sirianni. A lot of positives to build on.

As for Hurts, there are a few things to pick out.

He did miss Quez Watkins on what should have been a 98-yard touchdown, and he under-threw Jalen Reagor on a ball Reagor should have caught. But other than that, he looked fine.

Hurts was only 3-for-7 for 54 yards, but that included the Reagor drop and a bad Zach Ertz drop that should have been a catch for a chunk of yards.

He operated the offense efficiently, delivered the ball where it was supposed to go, showed balance, command of the huddle, and took what the defense gave him. He was also looking to throw, which I was a fan of.

He took off once for a four-yard scramble, but for the most part was out there to find the open man and get him the football. That’s where he needs to grow, and that’s where his focus was.

Promising start for the young fella.

The first and second-team defensive units looked good.

They tackled exceptionally well, covered well — other than one rep from Michael Jacquet on Diontae Johnson that went for 33 yards, but that’s a guy who caught 88 passes last year being covered by a roster longshot.

One thing we got to see was smart, tough, physical football from Jonathan Gannon’s defense. It was concerning how physical the defense would be after two weeks of training camp that wasn’t physical at all, but that wasn’t an issue.

They looked fresh and sharp and got after it.

Now, you have to keep in mind that the Eagles didn’t see Ben Roethlisberger and faced a Steelers offense that was just as plain as the Eagles’ offense.

But no question it was a good start.

Quez Wakins stood out. That’s not a sentence I thought I would be typing.

But it’s true! He was explosive.

We saw glimpses of it late last year, but Watkins really looks like a weapon.

Hurts missed him on that should-have-been 98-yard TD, but you could see him just explode away from Steelers corner Mike Hilton. Then there was the 79-yard TD from Joe Flacco on a bubble screen. One nice block from Richard Rodgers was all Watkins needed. Once he finds daylight, you’re not going to catch him. With DeVonta Smith out, Watkins is the Eagles’ best wide receiver. He has to get starter reps. 

Jake Elliott made more field goals from 47 yards plus in the first half Sunday night (three) than he made all of last year (two).

How about that?

He was 2-for-5 last year from 47 yards plus, but before halftime made field goals from 47, 47, and 50.

Elliott was terrible last year so definitely a good sign to see him kick with confidence and authority.

The Eagles will face the New England Patriots Thursday, August 19 in Philadelphia for preseason game number two.

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