Hurts refuses day off after NFC East champ Eagles clinch bye
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With a division title clinched, a bye week ahead, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni essentially called for a snow day: Everyone stay home on Monday. Players and coaches, rest up. There’s a potentially lengthy postseason grind ahead.
No thanks, Jalen Hurts said.
The Pro Bowl QB asked Sirianni right after the Eagles wrapped up a 14-win season if they could get back to work.
“Let’s go watch some tape,” Sirianni said Hurts told him.
So Sirianni said Monday morning on his weekly radio spot on WIP-FM that he was headed to the team’s complex later in the day to get in some film work with Hurts and a couple of assistants. Hurts can’t let the game go, especially after he missed the previous two with a sprained right shoulder.
Hurts’ postgame celebration for all that the Eagles accomplished didn’t last long.
“I can’t say that I’ll smile until the job is finished,” he said.
The Eagles don’t know which team they will face or which day they will play the weekend following next. But this much is certain: the Eagles are the NFC East champs, clinched the No. 1 seed in the conference and own home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Oh, and they should have a much more healthy Hurts.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he should be the MVP of this league,” Sirianni said on WIP.
The Eagles went 14-1 with Hurts as the starter. They were 0-2 without him.
The 24-year-old Hurts — who is 17-1 in his last 18 regular-season starts — finished with 3,701 yards passing and 22 touchdowns, 760 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in only his second season as a starter. The Eagles essentially put the playbook in bubble wrap for their 22-16 win over the Giants and used a vanilla offense designed keep Hurts safe. They didn’t need him at his best on Sunday — but they will the rest of the way.
Hurts still carries the weight of his poor play in last season’s playoff loss at Tampa Bay. He threw two interceptions and was just 23 of 43 for 258 yards in a 31-15 loss. The Eagles were surprisingly a playoff team then after a 2-5 start. A year later, it’s Super Bowl or bust.
“I just know that we have so much more out there for us, so I’m eager to get back to work and continue to grow with these guys,” Hurts said. “I challenge everybody in that locker room to not only hold themselves accountable but also hold the men next to them accountable. Coaches, trainers, janitors, everybody.
What a year for wide receivers.
A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith have to be considered the best wideout duo in franchise history. Brown set a single-season franchise record with 1,496 yards receiving yards, eclipsing the record set by Mike Quick in 1983 (1,409). Smith finished his second NFL season with 95 catches, which are the most by a wide receiver in team history (Irving Fryar had 88 catches in 1996). Smith’s 95 receptions trailed only Zach Ertz’s 116 in 2018 for most in a season.
“He has been great. I feel that we are still getting started,” Brown said. “We are going to be here together for a while.”
(And yes, it’s worth noting these records were set in a 17-game season).
Maybe the potential NFL season-sack record got in their heads and they tried too hard, but whatever the reason, the Eagles failed to sack QB Davis Webb in his first career start. The Eagles finished with 70 sacks, two shy of the 1984 Chicago Bears’ record of 72.
Jake Elliott has pretty much been an afterthought this season with the Eagles treating the red zone as their personal TD playground. Elliott was 15 of 18 on field-goal attempts this season and had three games where he didn’t attempt any. He kicked 13 extra points in those three games.
The Eagles weren’t relying on Hurts to rush on short-yardage situations on Sunday, so Elliott got the call — and delivered five field goals.
Think of how often playoff games are decided by a kick. Keeping Elliott sharp can only help in the postseason.
Consider, Elliott made all seven field goals in the playoffs during the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning season.
Brett Kern has not been the answer at punter for an injured Arryn Siposs. He had a 29-yard punt against the Giants.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who has six interceptions, returned after he missed five games with a lacerated kidney. The Eagles are hopeful All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson can return in the postseason from a torn adductor suffered in the Dec. 24 loss to Dallas.
10 — The Eagles will have the No. 10 pick of the draft (as well as their own, to be determined later) thanks to a preseason trade with the Saints. The Eagles and Saints traded a combined eight draft spots last year — and Philadelphia obtained New Orleans’ 2023 first-rounder.
The Eagles will have a game at Lincoln Financial Field versus the lowest-remaining seed out of Tampa Bay, Dallas, New York or Seattle in the divisional round.
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