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Examining Jalen Hurts’ dramatic accuracy improvement


Photo Credit by Philadelphia Eagles

OCR Logo Color 300DPIJalen Hurts has made giant strides this season with his accuracy. Yes, the addition of wide receiver A.J. Brown has absolutely benefitted him. But it’s much more than that.

Hurts’ completion percentage has jumped six points from last year to this year. Last season, he finished 26th with a 61.3 completion rate. Through 11 games this season, he’s completed 67.3% of his attempts, the 10th best in the league.

He’s third in the league in percentage of on-target throws (80.1%) according to Pro Football Reference, behind only the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (80.9) and the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa (80.7).

What’s been really impressive is that most of the improvement hasn’t come because of easy-to-complete bubble screens, flairs, or hitches. It’s come on more difficult long and intermediate throws.

Hurts has completed 46.4% of his deep-ball throws (20 yards or more) this season. That’s more than 10 points better than last year (35.9%). He’s 11th in the league in deep-ball completion percentage this season.

He’s completed 67.3% of his 11-to-19-yard throws, up from 58.2% last season. He’s fourth in completion percentage at that distance.

Last year, Hurts had just three deep-ball touchdown passes and five interceptions. This year, he already has thrown seven deep-ball TD passes with only one interception. Six of those seven deep-ball TD passes have come in the last five games.

Hurts is averaging 16.8 yards per attempt on 28 deep-ball throws through the first 11 games. Last year, he averaged just 11.8. His yards-per-attempt average on 11-to-19-yard throws also has jumped. He averaged 9.8 last year. He’s averaging 13.1 this season.

Hurts’ completion percentage on 0-to-10-yard throws is slightly lower than last year, dropping from 76.5% to 75.1%. But he has thrown eight touchdown passes and no interceptions from that distance. Last year, he threw seven TD passes and three interceptions on 0-to-10-yard throws.

Not so special teams

The Eagles’ special teams are an accident waiting to happen. Sooner or later, they’re going to cost the Eagles a win. If you’re an Eagles fan, pray it doesn’t happen in the playoffs.

It almost happened Sunday in the Eagles’ 40-33 win over the Packers when Michael Clay’s kickoff coverage unit gave up three long returns to Keisean Nixon. Nixon had 53-, 52- and 38-yard returns against the Eagles. Those three returns contributed to 10 of the Packers’ 33 points.

The Packers’ average drive start Sunday was their 38.7-yard line. That’s the highest by an opponent this season. Five of the Packers’ 10 possessions started at their 40-yard line or better.

“I’ve been in this league long enough to know that without the defense that we had, that’s going to come back and bite you,’’ Clay said. “Especially late in the season here in the northeast, you’re going to have to cover some kicks.’’

While Clay insists “there have been some good things all around’’ that have happened with his special teams units this season, you’d need rose-colored glasses to see them.


–The Eagles are 29th in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing 27.6 yards per return. Kicker Jake Elliott has a strong leg, but is only 14th in touchback percentage (70.4%).

–They are 30th in kickoff return average (18.3). Their longest return this season has been just 28 yards.

–They’re 27th in punt return average (6.9) with a long of 15.

–Elliott had a 41-yard field goal attempt blocked by the Vikings in Week 2, and while he’s made 9 of 11 attempts, he’s already missed two extra points.

–Punter Arryn Siposs hasn’t been quite as inconsistent as last year, but he’s not nearly as good as the guy that got away two years ago, Cam Johnston. Siposs is 25th in gross average (45.9) and 17th in net (41.4). He’s tied for 17th with 15 punts inside the 20.

–They got fooled by a fake punt against Arizona and failed miserably on their own fake punt attempt against the Vikings.

The only special teams area in which the Eagles have consistently done a decent job this season is punt coverage. They’re ninth overall, allowing 7.4 yards per return. The longest return they’ve given up thus far is 17 yards.

Ground and pound

–The Eagles’ 363 rushing yards against the Packers were the second most in franchise history. The record is 376 against Washington on November 21, 1948.

–The Eagles are averaging 34.4 rushing attempts per game. The only team averaging more is the Bears (35.8). They’re third in run-play percentage (52.1) behind the Bears (59.2) and Falcons (56.3).

-Miles Sanders is fifth in the league in rushing with 900 yards. He’s tied for second with seven 20-plus yard runs and is fifth with 26 10-plus yard runs.

–Hurts is third in rushing first downs with 50, behind only the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs (67) and the Bears’ Justin Fields (55). He has 18 in the last two games, including 10 against the Packers.

–The Eagles are tied for eighth in first-down rush average (4.7). Sanders is sixth in first-down rushing yards (518). They’re tied for ninth in second-down rush average (4.6). Sanders is fifth in second-down rushing yards (299).

–Hurts is third in the league in third-down rushing yards with 258. He’s second in rushing first downs on third down with 22. Fields has 30.

–Sanders is 16th among running backs in average yards after contact (3.21) Five hundred sixty-nine of his 900 yards have come after contact. Kenny Gainwell is averaging 2.84 yards after contact. Boston Scott is averaging 3.35. All but four of Scott’s 108 rushing yards have come after contact.

Red-zone scoop

–The Eagles have the league’s best red-zone touchdown percentage (72.5%). They’ve scored 29 touchdowns on 40 trips inside the 20. That’s their best red-zone touchdown rate since 2000. They’ve converted 16 of 19 red-zone opportunities in the last six games.

–Seventy-six of the Eagles’ 116 plays in the red zone have been run plays.

–Hurts hasn’t thrown a red-zone interception this season. He threw just one last season. He’s one of just seven quarterbacks with at least 30 red-zone pass attempts this season who hasn’t thrown a pick. The other six: Matt Ryan, Geno Smith, Ryan Tannehill, Tua Tagovailoa, Tom Brady, and Joe Burrow.

More numbers that matter

–Titans running back Derrick Henry is second in the league in rushing with 1,048 yards. But he has just 178 in the last three games. He’s averaging just 2.8 yards per carry in the last three games.

–The Titans haven’t given up more than 20 points in a game since Week 3. They’re seventh in points allowed (18.6 per game).

–Lane Johnson hasn’t allowed a sack in 808 pass plays. That’s the fourth longest streak in NFL history. He hasn’t given up a sack since Week 1 of the 2020 season. Hasn’t even given up a quarterback hit since Week 7 of last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

–In the last two games without tight end Dallas Goedert, the Eagles have used 11-personnel 80% of the time. In the previous nine games with him, they used it 69.3%.

–The Eagles have run the ball 45.5% of the time with 11P this season (236 of 518 plays). Two hundred fifty-two of their 363 rushing yards against the Packers were with 11P.

–Two of the Eagles’ three sacks against the Packers came on third down. That gives them an NFL-high 18 sacks on third down. They’re third overall in sacks with 36. The Cowboys are first with 45. The Patriots are second with 39.

–The Eagles lead the league in interceptions with 15. A league-high eight have been on third down.

–Eagles have held opposing quarterbacks to a 46.0 passer rating on third down, including a 52.8 completion percentage.

–Hurts is second in RPO pass attempts with 66. The Titans’ Marcus Mariota is first with 75.

–A.J. Brown leads the Eagles in third-down receptions with 14. Ten of them have resulted in first downs. Brown also is the Eagles’ top red-zone receiver. He has six catches in the red zone, four for TDs. DeVonta Smith is second with five red-zone receptions, three for TDs.

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