Five years ago, Carson Wentz was the favorite to win the league MVP award before tearing his ACL in the 13th game of the season.
Eight games into this season, the Eagles are 8-0 heading into Monday night’s game against the Washington Commanders, and their quarterback, Jalen Hurts, is one of the frontrunners in this year’s MVP race. The 33rd Team named him their midseason MVP earlier this week, selecting him over the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Bills’ Josh Allen.
How does Hurts’ season compare with the one Wentz had during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run in 2017? Glad you asked.
Wentz had a league-high 33 touchdown passes when he got hurt. Hurts currently is tied for 11th with 12 TD throws. But aside from that, almost all of Hurts’ eight-game passing – and rushing – numbers are better than Wentz’s 13-game numbers in 2017.
Hurts is second in passer rating (107.8) and yards per attempt (8.5) and sixth in completion percentage (68.2). Wentz finished fourth in passer rating (101.9), 11th in yards-per-attempt average (7.5), and 25th in completion percentage (60.5).
Hurts, who has just two interceptions in the first eight games, is averaging a pick every 130.5 pass plays. Wentz, who had just seven picks in ’17, averaged one every 66.9 pass plays that year.
Even though he only played in 13 games, Wentz led the league in third-down touchdown passes (14) in ‘17. But Hurts, who has just three third-down TD passes this season, has statistically outperformed the 2017 Wentz in every other significant third-down category.
Hurts has a 119.7 third-down passer rating compared to Wentz’s 115.2. He has a 67.4 completion percentage on third down compared to Wentz’s 61.2. Fifty percent of Hurts’ third-down pass attempts (23 of 46) have produced first downs, compared to 45.5 (61 of 134) of Wentz’s that year.
While Wentz wasn’t the significant running threat that Hurts is, he still could hurt a defense with his legs. He averaged nearly five rushing attempts per game in ‘17 and had career-highs in rushing yards (299) and rushing first downs (27). He was a perfect 13-for-13 that year on third- and fourth-and-one. Hurts is 15-for-17.
Wentz didn’t have any rushing touchdowns in 2017. Ironically, he ended up tearing his ACL on a two-yard touchdown run that was negated by a holding penalty.
Hurts is one of the league’s most prolific running quarterbacks. His six rushing touchdowns are tied for the fifth most in the league and the most by a quarterback. His 88 rushing attempts are the second most among quarterbacks to the Bears’ Justin Fields (91).
His 28 rushing first downs are the fifth most among quarterbacks. And he is sixth in rushing yards among QBs with 326, behind Jackson (635), Fields (602), the Bills’ Josh Allen (392), and the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray (359).
The Eagles are fourth in the NFL in average drive start (the 29.5-yard line) and first in opponent average drive start (25.0). That’s a plus-4.5 yard drive-start differential. Last year, the Eagles had a minus-1.0 drive-start differential. They finished 22nd in average drive start (28.1) and 19th in opponent average drive start (29.1).
The biggest reason for the drive-start improvement has been the Eagles’ takeaway-giveaway prowess this season. They lead the league in turnover differential (plus-15) by a wide margin. The Ravens are a distant second at plus-7. The Eagles have a league-high 18 takeaways and a league-best three giveaways. Last year, they had just 16 takeaways the entire season.
The Eagles haven’t had a positive drive-start differential since 2018 (plus-0.6 yards). They had a plus 2.0 differential in 2017 when they won the Super Bowl.
In the red
–The Eagles are fifth in red-zone touchdown percentage (70.0), converting 21 of 30 opportunities inside the 20 into TDs in their first eight games.
–Fifty-eight of the Eagles’ 89 plays in the red zone in their first eight games (65.2%) have been run plays. That’s the third-highest red zone run percentage in the league, behind only the Bears (70.1) and the Falcons (66.3).
–Jalen Hurts’ 28 red-zone rushing attempts are the second most in the league, just two behind Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon. Five of his six rushing touchdowns have been in the red zone. He is tied with Jacksonville running back Travis Etienne for the league’s most rushing first downs in the red zone (11).
–Hurts has a 99.6 passer rating in the red zone, including a 51.7 completion percentage. Neither of his two interceptions has been in the red zone. And he’s been sacked just twice inside the 20. Six of his 12 touchdown passes have been thrown in the red zone.
–A.J. Brown has been Hurts’ top red-zone target. He has a team-high five catches and three TDs in the red zone. Tight end Dallas Goedert has four catches and one TD in the red zone. DeVonta Smith has three catches and two red-zone TDs.
Scoop on 3rd/4th down
–The Eagles’ offense is fourth in third-down efficiency. They’ve converted 45.9% of their third-down opportunities. In their last four games, they’ve converted 49.0% of them.
–They struggled on third down in their first game against Washington, converting just 5 of 15 third-down tries. They were only 1-for-6 on third downs of seven yards or more in that game. While the Eagles have been very good on third down overall, they are only 20th on third-and-seven or more (22.2%). The Commanders are third in the league in third-down defense, holding opponents to a 32.8 conversion rate.
–The Eagles have converted 12 of 16 fourth-down attempts (75.0). That’s the highest fourth-down success rate in the league. They’re 5-for-5 on fourth down in the last four games.
–The Eagles have used 11-personnel (1RB,1TE,3WR) 68.4% of the time in the first eight games. That’s up from 63.8% in Nick Sirianni’s first season as the team’s head coach. Of course, the Eagles didn’t have A.J. Brown last year.
–The Eagles used 11P on 45 of 68 plays (66.2%) in their Week 3 win over Washington. Hurts threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns in that game. Two hundred ninety-four of those yards and two of his three TD tosses were with 11P.
–The Eagles are averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season, 5.3 with 11P. Miles Sanders is averaging 6.1 yards per carry with 11P and 5.0 overall. Seventy-eight of his 131 carries and 477 of his 656 rushing yards have been with 11P.
More good stat stuff
–Punter Arryn Siposs is 22nd in the league in gross average (46.3) and 17th in net average (41.7). He’s tied for 12th in punts inside the 20 (13) and has the eighth fewest fair catches (7) in the league.
–The Eagles are second in scoring (28.1 points per game) behind the Chiefs (30.4). The Chiefs have spread their points out a little more than the Eagles. They are 10th in first-quarter scoring (44), tied for eighth in second-quarter scoring (71), first in third-quarter scoring (69), and tied for 12th in scoring in the fourth quarter and overtime (59). The Eagles lead the league in second-quarter scoring, having scored a whopping 133 of their 225 points in that period. But they are 20th in first-quarter scoring (28), 23rd in third-quarter scoring (31), and 27th in fourth-quarter scoring (33).
–The Eagles haven’t trailed in the second half yet this season. They lead the league in point margin after two quarters (plus-89) and after three quarters (plus-100). The Titans are second after two quarters (plus-57). The Bills are second after three quarters (plus-86).
–The Eagles ran six screens with five different receivers against Houston last week. Those six screens gained 40 yards.
–Tight end Dallas Goedert has been the team’s most productive screen weapon. Fourteen of his 40 receptions have been on screens. He’s averaging 13.0 yards per catch overall and 11.3 on screens. He had a 23-yard touchdown against Washington in Week 3 on a screen.
–The Eagles have scored on their first possession in three of the last four games. They had 17 first downs on their first possession in those four games.