Jalen Hurts: The Eagles have ‘revolutionized’ their offensive since the last meeting with the Bucs

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PHILADELPHIA – Going back and watching the Week 6 game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Eagles’ attack is downright unrecognizable.

It’s strange to think that the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL (Eagnene finished the regular season averaging 159.7 rush yards per game – 10 yards more per game than the second-ranked Indianapolis Colts) largely neglected the land game for the most part. of the year, but those are the facts. From Week 1 to 6, Philadelphia rushed 132 times, becoming No. 28 in the league. And it was with double-edged quarterback Jalen Hurts at control, which made that state even more incredible. The Eagles went through a four-week stretch where their running backs averaged under nine carries a game.

The end of that stretch was October 14 against Tampa. Miles Sanders’ rush for a yard represented the only running back carry for Philly in the first half. The results were pretty predictable: Quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs dominated in possession time (21:05 to 8:55) and total yards (233 to 73), while the Eagles managed to run a single game in the opponent’s territory. Tampa went to the break 21-7, increased the lead to 28-7 in the third quarter and held on to win 28-22.

Things should look very different when these two teams play again on Sunday in the wildcard round of the playoffs (13.00 ET, Fox).

“As an offense, we have in a way revolutionized and evolved in terms of who we are, our identity,” Hurts said. “Early on, we searched a bit for who we were – what we wanted to do, how we wanted to do it. We’ve fine-tuned some things, and we’ve become good at doing a lot of different things.”

Especially knocking on the stone. From Week 7, the Eagles led the NFL in rushing attempts (418) and rush yards with a staggering 185 ground yards per game. They scored an urgent TD in seven straight games to end the season, their longest streak since 2003 (15 straight), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The philosophical shift was hatched after their Thursday night game against the Bucs in Week 6. The coaching staff used the extended time before their next game against the Las Vegas Raiders for self-assessment and made the decision to dramatically change their offensive approach. Now they get to see if that change can lead to a different result against the defending Super Bowl champions.

“When I look at the last game, I feel like it really is not the same team that we have now,” said tight-end Dallas Goedert. “In terms of players, it’s pretty similar, but the way we attack teams is completely different.”

Goedert did not play in the first matchup after landing on the reserve / COVID-19 list. Right tackle Lane Johnson also missed the match while addressing his mental health.

Hurts, who makes his playoff debut on Sunday, had a tough day in the office in the playoff week 6, going 12-of-26 in 115 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Buc coach Bruce Arians was asked what he has seen of the 23-year-old Hurts since then.

“Dramatic improvement,” he said. “Total command over the attack. Really exactly down the field. He’s really improved as a pass player. He knows when to pull it down and he knows when to throw it, so I’ve seen great growth out of him.”

On paper, it will be strength on Sunday, with Philadelphia’s highest-rated rushing attack going against a Tampa defense that finished in third place against the race (92.5 yards per game). However, The Bucs have allowed eight 100-yard games this season compared to four in 2020, and has been receptive to late on the outside.

Tampa linebacker Lavonte David is trying to return from a sprained ankle, and Bucs’ secondary, who lacked safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and others in the first game against the Eagles, should be in better shape. But the Eagles’ attack will provide a bigger test now that they have found the right formula.

“Just good discipline,” Arians said of what it takes to be successful against the Eagles. “That’s the problem when you have read-option quarterbacks and all the RPOs [run-pass options] that goes out of it – it’s not just stopping the run, it’s stopping the RPOs too. You have to have great discipline and you have to tackle really well, because the one who has the ball in Philly’s hands is very dangerous. “

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