PHILADELPHIA (AP)The Eagles’ unbeaten streak is over.
The questions that came out of a humbling, disconcerting loss to the New York Jets – the first time Philadelphia lost to them in 13 career games – are only starting.
The most pressing: What went wrong with Jalen Hurts? Hurts overall has not played up to the standards that made him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL and league MVP runner-up last season. His interceptions are up, his decision-making is baffling and his ability to scramble or create something out of nothing on a broken pass play largely has been missing.
Yes, there’s a new offensive coordinator in Brian Johnson, and recent injuries have hampered the O-line.
But Hurts had shown last season that he was able to rise above the rare cases of subpar play around him and – more to the point – flash the type of dynamic playmaking that rarely placed the Eagles in any danger of getting upset by teams like the Jets.
Thanks to winning the NFC championship, the Eagles were stuck with one of the toughest schedules this season and they’re about to enter the teeth it, starting with Sunday’s game at home against Miami. Like the Eagles, the Dolphins are 5-1, and they have scored 31 or more points in four of the victories. How about November games against Dallas, the Chiefs (in a Super Bowl rematch) and the Bills?
“It’s just the mentality. I’m not going to sit here and say we’ve been here before or anything like that, but we have,” Hurts said. “But I think it’s just a matter of how we respond and that starts with me and how I lead the charge.”
The defense. It’s hard to knock a defense that held the Jets to only 244 yards and was just 2 of 11 on third downs. Jets running back Breece Hall ran for only 39 yards on 12 carries a week after he rushed for 177 yards against Denver.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The offense. Hurts struggled and the Eagles got almost nothing out of their ground game. Four turnovers, including a lost fumble by running back D’Andre Swift, turned this one into a disaster for the Eagles.
With Philadelphia leading 14-12, Bryce Hall picked off Hurts early in the fourth quarter. The Jets went three-and-out on their next series – and the Eagles had a chance to widen the margin, but Jake Elliott missed a 37-yard field goal attempt after making 16 of 17 to start the season.
“Sometimes after bad losses there’s great times for growth and so that’s what our mission will be to grow from this, grow from the mistakes that we made,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
Haason Reddick continues to shine after a broken thumb cost him most of training camp and kept him without a sack in the first two games. Reddick had 2 1/2 sacks against the Jets, the second straight game he had at least two sacks. Reddick leads the Eagles with 5 1/2 sacks. He’s playing more like the linebacker who had 16 sacks last season and added three more in the playoffs.
What was Hurts thinking on that pass that was picked off by Tony Adams that essentially sealed the win for the Jets? Hurts tied his career high with three interceptions – he threw six all of last season. Yes, Hurts was under pressure almost the entire game, and losing a key offensive lineman to injury didn’t help. But the fourth quarter was arguably Hurts’ worst performance as an Eagles player.
He has thrown seven interceptions this season.
“It’s all about how you respond to it,” Hurts said. “I’ve got a feeling how we’ll come in and come in with some great intensity. Some of these things build character. I say that all the time, it truly builds character.”
Perhaps. But ask any Eagles fans and they’d rather build the total in the win column.
Right tackle Lane Johnson left in the first quarter with a severe ankle injury. Rookie cornerback Eli Ricks suffered a knee injury in the third quarter and safety Reed Blankenship hurt his ribs after he was injured on an unnecessary roughness call.
4 – Wide receiver A.J. Brown became the fourth Eagles player to have 100-plus receiving yards in four consecutive games, joining Terrell Owens (five games, 2004), Harold Jackson (five games, 1971-72) and Mike Quick (four games, 1983). Brown also is the only Eagles player since 1970 to have 125-plus receiving yards in three consecutive road games. Brown joined Jackson (four games, 1971-72), as the only Eagles players with four consecutive games of 125-plus receiving yards.
The Eagles return home for a Sunday night game against the 5-1 Miami Dolphins.
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