Eagles overreactions: Jalen Hurts showed his worth in win vs. Panthers

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Eagles overreactions: We learned one big thing about Hurts originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles hung around in a truly awful football game on Sunday afternoon long enough to steal a win down in North Carolina.

Their 21-18 win over the Panthers was an exercise in frustration all afternoon long, just one mistake and wasted opportunity after another, until they somehow pulled out a clutch 15 minutes of football.

Let's overreact to the Eagles snapping their losing streak:

1. Jalen Hurts is a gamer

Let me preface this by saying: I don't think Jalen Hurts is the guy for the Eagles. I've been unimpressed by his arm strength and ball placement, I don't think he can make all the throws, and his decision making leaves plenty to be desired.

But man, he sure has the intangibles you want in a quarterback.

The Eagles were an abject disaster for three quarters on Sunday, but in crunch time Hurts stepped up and made most of the right plays and gave the Eagles an undeserved win. He runs hard when his team needs the yards, he finds the end zone with regularity, and most importantly he never looks like he thinks he can't win.

Carson Wentz often tried to have the same tunnel mindset, but at times last year you could see on his face that he was frustrated. The great QBs like Tom Brady sometimes let it come through, and sometimes you need tough love, but often it's the quarterback who needs to help keep things together on the sidelines when things aren't going well.

Hurts hung in there until he could turn his play around. I like it.

It helps that Nick Sirianni magically remembered in the fourth quarter that Hurts is a great runner and let the guy use his legs. Is that a recipe for success forever, especially against a better team than Carolina? Probably not.

But on Sunday, it was. Hurts lacks a lot of things on the field, but he doesn't lack the determination or the mentality of a starting quarterback.

2. Nick Sirianni is a bad play-caller

Nick Sirianni didn't call plays when he was the Colts' offensive coordinator.

He's certainly shown why Frank Reich kept the reins in Indy.

After calling a very solid Week 1, Sirianni has struggled mightily to build any sort of offensive identity through five weeks, and he seems to have no feel for in-game decisions. His play-calling on Sunday in Carolina was by far his worst display yet, a directionless approach rife with unsuccessful screen passes and mistakes.

The offensive decisions just don't make much sense, both in terms of situational fit and in terms of personnel fit. The Eagles have explosive players in Quez Watkins and DeVonta Smith, but Sirianni seems reluctant to scheme big shots for either player.

And in key spots, Sirianni seems to always make the wrong decision. 

After an impressive Darius Slay interception in the first quarter, the Eagles had 1st & Goal from the 10-yard line. He called a screen pass to the right to Quez Watkins on first down, which lost five yards. He called another pass, which went to Miles Sanders for three yards. And he called a third pass, which went left to DeVonta Smith for 10 yards. 

Not a single run when you have 1st & Goal from the 10? Not scheming up a run with Hurts and Gainwell both in the backfield, two dynamic playmakers, to keep the defensive off-kilter and maybe gain an easy four yards? Is that such an insane idea? Throwing backwards when you're 10 yards away from the end zone is infuriating. Trust your guys to get 10 yards going forward. If they can't do that, you've got bigger problems anyway.

And the lack of a run game in general was once again a problem vs. the Panthers. While the more analytically-minded football fans will tell you the traditional run game is sort of a relic, and running behind a slap-dash offensive line isn't always a recipe for success, there's no excuse for making this little of an effort to run the ball.

NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Seth Joyner called out the approach, and the convenient excuse that Sirianni has tried to use to cover himself:

It's only five games, but there's a chance Sirianni just isn't good at play-calling. He seems to double down on his worst impulses and doesn't adapt well in real-time. It needs to improve, or he needs to hand play-calling duties off to someone else.

3. Jalen Reagor is an absolute headache

From the very first play on Sunday, when he decided to take a kickoff out of the end zone from five yards deep, Jalen Reagor just had a rough afternoon.

Reagor got a target on the first play of the game, maybe Sirianni giving him a chance to get going, and he simply dropped it.

Later in the first first half, on one of the Eagles' trillion screen passes Reagor just absolutely mailed in a block, leading to a one-yard gain on a play that could've been so much more:

Meanwhile in Minnesota, Justin Jefferson - the wide receiver taken one pick after Reagor in 2020 - had seven catches for 124 yards in a Vikings win.

Cool.

Whether it's him getting pushed out of bounds on a would-be touchdown a few weeks ago or the inconsistent effort this week, there are just so many times that you look at Reagor and wonder when he's going to put it together, if ever.

He flashes his athleticism just enough to keep you hooked on his ceiling as an offensive weapon, but I'm not convinced he's ever going to realize his potential. You can teach routes and techniques, but it's hard to teach consistency to someone who doesn't seem interested in being consistent.

Maybe he'll prove me wrong. But I'm not holding out hope.

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