Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts can throw on the Bucs’ secondary

by 24USATVOct. 14, 2021, 10 p.m. 16
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He’s four years older than the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Nick Sirianni, eight years older than their most senior player, Joe Flacco, and 23 years and four days older than Jalen Hurts, the quarterback who will be starting across from him on Thursday Night Football.

Just think about that for a second; Hurts was two years old when Brady started his first game for the New England Patriots and has thrown 21 fewer passes over his first 20 games in the NFL than the number of games Brady has played in the NFL period.

And do you want to know the terrifying part? Even scarier than the fact that some of Brady’s teammates will have never known a world where he wasn’t in the NFL as soon as next year? Brady is still playing at an elite level.

I know, crazy, right? Despite being old enough to be a grandfather, Brady currently leads the league in passing attempts, passing completions, and passing yards. His weapons are among the best in the league, his offensive line is excellent, and his team’s 33.4 points per game currently ranks third in the league behind only the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys.

Fun fact: The Eagles have yet to score more than 32 points in a game this season period, let alone put up 45 against the Miami Dolphins or 48 against the Atlanta Falcons.

So how on earth are the Philadelphia Eagles going to be able to slow down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their white-hot passing offense? Honest answer? They probably won’t unless they turn in another three-interceptions-plus-a-blocked-punt performance like they did in Week 5. But Jalen Hurts and company should at least be able to keep up with Tom Brady somewhat, as his team’s passing defense hasn’t been particularly good through the first five weeks of the 2021 NFL season.

The Philadelphia Eagles should be able to throw on the Bucs.

Through the first five weeks of the 2021 NFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles have averaged 256.2 passing yards per game, good for the 12th-best mark in the league.

Now granted, that feels borderline crazy, right? Surely there can’t be a quarterback who throws the ball more than Jalen Hurts, who drops back something like 100 times a game. Well, it’s true; there are actually 11 other quarterbacks who have thrown the ball more than Hurts through the first month and a week of the 2021 NFL season, ranging from excellent QBs on excellent teams like Justin Herbert to not so much on all accounts like Jared Goff.

Why, you may ask, is this relevant? Well, because the Eagles might just need to ride Hurts even harder in Week 6 than in any game up to this point, as the Buccaneers are currently allowing the most passing yards-per-game of any team in the league at 349.4, and with an increasingly depleted secondary expected to take the field, there will surely be yards available down the field.

With both Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis, the team’s starting outside cornerbacks from their Super Bowl run, on IR, the Bucs have been forced to rely on a secondary populated by increasingly less experienced cornerbacks… and Richard Sherman, who went from the street to the starting lineup in Week 4 and is expected to continue that trend opposite 2019 third-round pick Jamel Dean versus the Birds.

That, my friends, would be a good place to start if Nick Sirianni is looking for a way to pick up chunk yards versus the Bucs; Richard Sherman.

Never particularly known for his athleticism, Sherman is 33 years old and very ill-equipped to engage in a foot race with a certified speedster like Quez Watkins. If the Eagles line can hold up long enough for Hurts to air it out over Sherman’s head down the field, it should surely result in a few more plays of 50-plus yards.

Fun fact II: Did you know Jalen Hurts and Quez Watkins are responsible for the longest reception of the season with their 91-yard bomb in Week 2? Pretty cool.

The Bucs will also be without Lavonte David for their Week 6 contest versus the Eagles, with journeyman reserve Kevin Minter expected to start next to 2019 fifth overall pick Devin White. While White has the athleticism to keep up was pretty much any player on the Eagles’ offense save Watkins, Minter has never been a particularly noteworthy coverage player and could struggle to take on anyone from Kenneth Gainwell, to Zach Ertz, or even Jalen Reagor, depending on the matchup.

If the Eagles were a run-heavy team like many a fan increasingly wishes they were, they might have an issue getting much together on the offensive side of the ball, as the Bucs are allowing the fewest rushing yards per game of any team in the league but when you consider Sirianni’s current leading rusher is his quarterback, that probably isn’t too big of an issue.

Make no mistake about it; the Philadelphia Eagles will have a hard time containing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense on Thursday Night Football in Week 6. Their offense is even more potent than that of the Kansas City Cheifs, and considering that unit didn’t punt once back in Week 4, the prospects of a low-scoring game are minimal. With that being said, Jalen Hurts should be able to move the ball fairly well too, and continue his run of the league as one of the most exciting fantasy football quarterbacks in the biz. That, my friends, would be a solid consolation prize for an expected L.

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