ARLINGTON, Texas — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts took full responsibility for Monday night’s 41-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, telling the team afterward not to dwell on it.
“We’re going to flush it and move on,” Hurts said.
If only it were that simple.
Hurts wasn’t very good in this game. He threw a pair of interceptions, including one on a badly underthrown ball to receiver Jalen Reagor. He surely earned further respect from his teammates for shielding them from blame at the podium afterward. But it’s obvious the team’s problems go well beyond quarterback play.
Let’s start with coaching. One of Nick Sirianni’s core principles is “Football IQ,” yet the Eagles have set a franchise record for most penalties through three games with 35, including 13 against Dallas.
“It starts with me, and it’s unacceptable on my part,” Sirianni said.
The game plan was suspect for a second straight week. The Eagles called a design run on just 9.4% of their plays Monday, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. That’s the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL over the past 15 seasons. The running backs had three carries total. Hurts was dynamite in the play-action game, going 9-of-10 for 179 yards with a touchdown, but the lack of a run attack limited how frequently the Eagles could use it.
Philadelphia entered the game using pre-snap motion on a league-low 21 percent of offensive plays, and fell off even further against Dallas, using it only six times on 53 plays (11%).
The objective on defense was to stop the run, according to linebacker Alex Singleton, but defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s unit was gashed for 160 yards on the ground. The Cowboys won in the trenches and controlled the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half.
Injuries are taking their toll, particularly along the offensive front, with guard Isaac Seumalo (foot) joining guard Brandon Brooks (pec) and left tackle Jordan Mailata (knee) on the sideline. The loss of defensive end Brandon Graham to a season-ending Achilles rupture could prove too much to overcome.
It’s a lot, and it’s all happening just as the Eagles enter the hardest part of their schedule, with home games against the most recent Super Bowl representatives, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, splitting up road games against the undefeated Carolina Panthers and Las Vegas Raiders.
No one seems to be buying the idea that this is all on Hurts.
“We all know that’s not true. Whenever you get beat like that, it’s everybody,” said center Jason Kelce. “But that is the way you would expect Jalen Hurts to feel. The bottom line is, leaders and really good players feel that they completely control the situation, especially at the quarterback position. We have to play much, much better across the board.”
Tight end Zach Ertz said Hurts is “going to be a great player for a long time in this league.” He called rookie receiver DeVonta Smith “freakin’ unbelievable.” He noted that there are players with considerable experience on the team, including himself and Kelce. He cited the Week 1 domination of the Atlanta Falcons as a “glimpse of what we can be on offense” if the team can steer clear of the pre-snap penalties and establish a rhythm passing game.
There are some ingredients in place, in other words. It’s just a matter of whether the team is capable of creating anything meaningful out of them, or whether this season will soon be flushed and forgotten.
“It’s still early. We’re still young,” Ertz said. “We’ve just got to grow up fast.”