All it took was two straight losses and one game without finding the end zone for Jalen Hurts and his coaches to start feeling the heat of what’s going on in Philadelphia.
There is little doubt the Eagles will be playing in the postseason and a win on Monday night over Seattle will wrap up a playoff spot for Philadelphia.
But the way the past two weeks transpired have amplified concerns that the Eagles (10-3) have problems on the offensive side that need to be solved over the final quarter of the season if they are to be true contenders at making another run to the Super Bowl.
“You have to do something about it. We’re going through some adversity right now, and we welcome adversity, right? You don’t like it. It’s like the criticism a little bit. You don’t like it when you first hear it, but then can you use it to help you grow? There is no doubt adversity helps you grow as a team,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “So, we’re (annoyed) that we haven’t played or coached to our standard and we’re ready to go do something about it.”
Whether Hurts is under center against the Seahawks is uncertain after he was downgraded to questionable on Sunday because of illness and traveled separately from the team to Seattle. If Hurts isn’t healthy enough to go, Marcus Mariota would get the start.
Seattle (6-7) has equal uncertainty about its starting quarterback in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Geno Smith, who missed last week with a groin injury, was limited in practice and is also questionable and that could lead to a second straight start for Drew Lock.
Whether it’s Hurts or Mariota, the Eagles are going through an offensive slump with just two offensive touchdowns in the past eight quarters, both coming in the second half of their blowout loss to San Francisco two weeks ago. Over the past four games, Hurts is completing just 61% of his passes and has a passer rating of 84.3.
Last week against Dallas seemed to be the tipping point from slight worry to actual concern for the Eagles when they failed to score an offensive touchdown in the loss. But Hurts sees it as the kinds of challenges faced in every season.
“That’s usually what is supposed to happen. You don’t get anywhere without any challenges. You don’t grow,” Hurts said. “It’s not natural to develop the right type of character and develop into a team, truly, if you don’t go through anything together.”
Part of the problems last week against the Cowboys was a lack of distribution. All 27 of Hurts’ pass attempts last week were directed at A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith or Dallas Goedert. While the Eagles want their best players getting the ball, they also need to make sure the likes of D’Andre Swift are getting involved in the offense.
Swift has 19 total touches in the past two games.
“I think you just got to continue to try to get him the ball in different ways, whether that’s in the pass game or the jet sweep game or just handing him some direct runs that don’t have read elements to them,” Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said.
Facing the Seahawks might be a perfect opponent for Philadelphia to find a fix. Last week, Seattle gave up 9.94 yards per play last week against San Francisco, the second most of any team this season. Take out kneel-downs, and San Francisco averaged more than 10 yards per snap on its way to rolling up 527 yards, the most allowed by the Seahawks in a non-overtime game since 2015.
It was just the eighth time since 2000 a team has allowed 9.9 yards per play in a game. Denver allowed 10.23 yards per play earlier this season when it gave up 70 points to Miami.
In the past three weeks, Seattle allowed 24 first-half points in a loss to the 49ers; gave up 41 points in a loss to the Cowboys; and last week failed to slow down the 49ers again.
Clearly the problems being felt about the Eagles offense are being similarly discussed about what’s going on with Seattle’s defense.
“We understand that we have a lot of potential on this team. We know we have a lot of players who can play really well and a lot of the stuff that we need to correct is ourselves,” Seattle edge rusher Boye Mafe said. “There’s things that we know, there’s plays that were made that we know that we can handle and things that we need to adjust in our defense in just how we as players got to take accountability for that.”