January 29, 2023

Takeaways after Eagles subs fail to do anything in blowout loss to Patriots, Jalen Hurts misses game via illness

Photo by Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Remind yourself of two things: 1. Most of the starters didn’t play, and 2. It doesn’t count.

The Eagles rested most of their defensive regulars and a good chunk of their starting offense Thursday night, and with an ill Jalen Hurts, according to the Eagles, there weren’t many familiar names on the field when the New England Patriots — outplayed Monday and Tuesday in joint practices — demolished the Eagles’ backups 35-0 at Lincoln Financial Field.

It was horrible. And if you watched the whole thing like I did, I’m sorry.

Here’s a few takeaways from Thursday night’s massacre.

Hurts missed game with illness

Hurts was on the field for warmups, and looked fine and ready to play a football game. But all of a sudden, Joe Flacco came out to start and the news broke Hurts was ill.

It’s very strange that just 45 minutes before the news broke, Hurts was jamming out to music and dancing on the field for warmups, then didn’t play.

Sirianni said that Jalen Hurts came to the stadium complaining of a stomach problem. Went through warm-ups, didn’t feel great, decided to sit him. Was taken to hospital. Had an abdomen problem. Was discharged. Sirianni called it a stomach bug for him.


“He really wanted to play.” Sirianni said, “He was fighting me to play.”

Anyways, Hurts has now played only 10 snaps this preseason, and he needs reps before the opener in Atlanta in 24 days.

He needs to play at least three series against the New York Jets next Friday in the Eagles’ final preseason game, and we need to see him work behind the starting offensive line and run the offense efficiently and complete some passes to DeVonta Smith and mix in the run and get the ball in the end zone. Treat the first half vs. the Jets like a real game.

Yeah, Hurts has been good in practice, and that’s encouraging. But games are different than practice. He needs to play.

To replace Hurts, backup Flacco started, and was brutal And that’s concerning.

He was 10-for-17 for 83 yards, a bad interception and a 46.9 passer rating, and his longest completion was a 12-yard catch-and-run by running back Kenny Gainwell. He held onto the ball too long, missed open guys and at times looked lost out there. Flacco targeted his WRs eight times and completed three for 24 yards.

He had a backup o-line but starting WRs and just couldn’t get them the ball against an assortment of Patriots starters and backups.

The ball just wasn’t going where it was supposed to. I get that the Eagles are going vanilla here, but this was ugly.

Oh, and Nick Mullens might be worse. 

In addition to Hurts, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and Darius Slay didn’t play And most of the regulars who did play — Miles Sanders, Steve Nelson, Anthony Harris, Dallas Goedert, Jordan Mailata, and Isaac Seumalo — only played a handful of snaps.

The regular wide receivers played the first half, but Flacco couldn’t get them the ball.

Smith’s debut

It was a lot of fun seeing DeVonta Smith out running around just two days after his first practice following an injury layoff.

He had a couple first-quarter drops, neither was a very good throw from Joe Flacco, but they were both passes Smith would tell you he should have caught.

He bounced back with catches of 9 and 10 yards in the second quarter. It wasn’t a lot and you’d like to see him catch those first two, but considering that he just missed 2 1/2 weeks of practice it was a positive just to get him in his first NFL game, bounce back with a couple receptions and then get him out of there healthy.

Brutal 2nd defense

The Eagles’ 2nd defense was brutal, which includes some guys who are going to have significant roles during the regular season (and some guys who definitely won’t).

Only Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, and Steve Nelson started among the first group, and only Singleton played extended reps. But you still don’t want to see your second group trampled.

Milton Williams stood out from that group, again. He drew two holding penalties and is just a tough matchup with his strength and power. And Zech McPhearson at least showed a willingness to tackle and be physical, so there’s that. 

Up next

The Birds will face the Jets in the Meadowlands next Friday in the final preseason game before September 12’s season opener in Atlanta.

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