Why Jalen Hurts should have lots of opportunities vs. the Cowboys

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Why Jalen Hurts should have lots of opportunities vs. Cowboys originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If the Eagles want to get their passing game back in gear, there are worse teams to do it against than the Cowboys.

After a promising start in Atlanta, the Eagles never got the passing game in gear in the home opener against the 49ers.

It was partly play calling on Nick Sirianni’s part. It was partly Jalen Hurts never getting in sync. It was partly the offensive line, which wasn’t quite the same after Brandon Brooks. It was partly the receivers, who dropped a few, missed a few and were blanketed on a few others.

It was a little bit of everything, but it added up to just 177 net passing yards - more than half on one play - and 11 points in a lifeless loss at the Linc.

Hurts is under the microscope every week this year, and while that’s always the case with any quarterback, it’s especially true with Hurts this year because of his uncertain future.

So far, the results are mixed. Hurts was very good in the win over the Falcons, but through two games, the Eagles have only one pass play of 30 yards or more, tied with the Bears, Saints and Buccaneers for fewest in the league.

Hurts hasn’t been using the middle of the field, which has made the Eagles easier to defend.

All of which brings us to Dallas.

The Eagles face the Cowboys at A&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Monday night, and the Cowboys could be just what the Eagles need to get the passing game back on track.

Two games in, the Cowboys have allowed 692 passing yards, second-most in the league. Now, one of the reasons for that is because that they opened the season against Tom Brady, who threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns in a Bucs win. But Justin Herbert was 31-for-41 for 338 yards and a touchdown this past weekend.

The 692 net passing yards the Cowboys have allowed are the most in franchise history through two games.

Five separate receivers have had 90 yards against Dallas in just two weeks – Antonio Brown (121), Chris Godwin (105) and Rob Gronkowski (90) of the Bucs and Keenan Allen (108) and Mike Williams (91) of the Chargers.

Only five receivers had eight catches in a game against the Cowboys last year. Four have already done it this year.

Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys’ second-round pick last year, will likely spend most of the game Monday night on his former college teammate, DeVonta Smith, which means veteran Anthony Brown and nickel Jourdan Lewis would be responsible for Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor.

One thing the Cowboys have done is create turnovers. They already have four interceptions – only six fewer than they had all of last year.

But two games in, there have been a lot of guys running wide open against the Cowboys. Brady completed 32 passes and Herbert 31. That’s the most completions ever against the Cowboys after two weeks. And five TD passes is the 4th-most ever against the Cowboys after two weeks.

The Cowboys have already allowed 11 pass plays of 20 yards – second-most in the league. And with Demarcus Lawrence on Injured Reserve with a broken foot, the Cowboys have only two sacks, second-fewest in the league, which hasn’t done the secondary any favors.

Hurts’ passing numbers against the 49ers were grim: Just 12 completions, only four for 38 yards in the second half. No completions to a WR after halftime. Just two passes longer than 14 yards, none over the final 37 minutes.

If these issues continue Monday? Then we’ve got reason for concern.