EAGLES FANS SHOULD KNOW, HURTS OR NOT, THE BIRDS STILL LOST
There were a few things Eagles fans can take away from Sunday's thriller in the desert, s 33-26 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts continues to show coaches, teammates and fans he can play.
Hurts was 24 of 44 for 338 yards and three touchdown passes. He also rushed 11 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Eagles fans know that, even with the loss, their team is still in the hunt for the NFC East. The Giants lost to the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Football team dropped a verdict to the Seattle Seahawks.
Birds fans should also know that to win the division, both the Giants and Washington must lose games and the Eagles must defeat the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday in Arlington, TX and Washington at the Linc on January 3, 2021.
The Birds have won exactly four of their first 14 games this season with one tie.
Big Blue must drop a game at Baltimore this Sunday or their season finale against Dallas at MetLife January 3.
The Giants will likely lose one of their games, but Washington must lose to the Carolina Panthers (4-10) at FedEx Field, then lose the Eagles at the Linc the last week of the season.
If Washington wins Sunday, the season is over.
It's not crazy odds, but still unlikely to happen.
First time Pro Bowler Brandon Graham was asked to look back on the season and think about how things could have been. He wasn't biting on the question.
“I don't know, ask me that and two games,” the defensive end said, “I'll have something for you then, but right now I'm focused on trying to win this thing, we still got opportunity I ain't trying to even think about 'what if' you know I'm saying? We want to finish out on a great note, put ourselves in a position, and hopefully things go our way.”
Another thing Eagles fans know is their competent punter and holder Cameron Johnston is in concussion protocol after he suffered head injury that likely happened when his late first-quarter punt was blocked, setting up an Arizona first and goal at the Eagles six-yard line.
The Cardinals scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Murray to running back Chase Edmonds, making the score 16-0 with 2:18 left in the opening quarter.
It’s still unclear when Johnston was injured. The last of his three punt attempts came with 13 minutes left in the third quarter, a touchback.
Head coach Doug Pederson was asked about COVID contingency plans with specialists and quarterbacks, but with Johnston out and potentially in the concussion protocol, does he feel the need to reach out and bring in a punter to work out, and maybe have that guy just in case to follow that type of protocol?
The team needs to make sure tight end Zach Ertz is OK as the holder. Place kicker Jack Elliott looked solid filling in for Johnston. Elliott punted twice for an average of 38.5 net yards per punt.
“Well, that's exactly what I'm alluding to with injuries and different things, guys that come in,” Pederson said Monday. “I want to say the protocols have changed even before this press conference today, that we might be able to get some guys in here sooner if they've been in the testing cadence say on another team, a practice squad or something from another team, they've been testing, those things can be sped up. But that's the challenge you have with trying to bring guys in is you don't really get them right away. You've got to wait a few days before. But I'm hoping now that the new protocols will allow us to get those guys on the field sooner.”
HOW DID THE EAGLES STAY IN THIS GAME?
Eagles fans may want to look at their teams performance and wonder how was their team in this game at all with the mistakes and inconsistent performances that took place.
* On offense, Hurts had a rocky start. He gave up a safety on his first drive but rallied the Birds to bring his team to a 26-26 score in third quarter. That was it for the offense. The Birds scored 20 first half points, just six in the second half.
* Hurts has thrown five touchdown passes and no INTs in eight quarters as a starter, which is solid. He has rushed for 169 yards on 29 carries and a TD. His TD was against Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker.
* Alshon Jeffery had two catches for 63 yards and drew two pass interference calls on Pro Bowl corner Patric Peterson..
* Zach Ertz caught two passes for 69 but was targeted seven times. Jalen Reagor (5-49), Dallas Goedert (4-39) and Quez Watkins (3-40, 32 yard TD catch) were solid. Nine receivers caught passes.
* The Eagles offensive line gave up six sacks. The Birds rushed for 117 yards as a team this week after rushing for 246 yards as a team last week against New Orleans.
* To the defense, DeAndre Hopkins was unstoppable hauling in nine passes for 169 yards, including a game-winning 20-yard circus touchdown pass.
* Kyler Murray, who was just named to the Pro Bowl, was 27 of 36 for 406 yards The Cardinals rushed for 103 yards as a team.
* The Birds defense only recorded one sack.
* The Birds did come up with three turnovers.
* Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipps is lucky to have a job after Sunday. His laundry list contained only negative plays
* That blocked punt handed Arizona a first and 10 at the Eagles six yard line in the first quarter.
* A bad snap by Pro Bowler Rick Lovato resulted in a missed extra point. Zach Ertz was the holder, but he had virtually no chance - skipped to him.
* The Birds fell for a fake punt. It resulted in a 26-yard completion by 38-year-old punter Andy Lee.
* Two kickoff returns went to the 14 and 20 yard lines to start drives.
After the game, Hurts was asked how he thought he performed.
He had thrown for over 300 yards in just his second NFL start, rallied his team from a 16-0 deficit and has yet to turn the ball over.
His answer sounded like a player who hates being called a rookie.
“Now I look back on this game...and I think about is simply not being enough,” He said. “We're we're good enough to where we control our own destiny. We left money on the table, missed opportunities and self inflicted wounds. I could care less to hear any of the young stuff, second start stuff, rookie stuff. We have a standard we want to play to. I personally have a standard I want to play to. You've got to find a way to get it done. It's definitely a learning experience. But it's something that we can definitely learn from. Definitely.”
Eagles fans already know It's not been enough all season. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii