News

Eagles vs. Giants: By the Numbers

Paul Domowitch takes a deep dive into the unique way Jalen Hurts is succeeding at the QB position.


Jalen Hurts runs the ball against Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints at Lincoln Financial Field on November 21, 2021. / Photograph by Mitchell Leff / Contributor via Getty Images

Jalen Hurts’ passing numbers in his first full season as the Eagles’ starting quarterback are very pedestrian.

He’s 28th in completion percentage (61.6), 23rd in passer rating (90.4), 22nd in touchdown percentage (4.1) and 21st in yards per attempt.

One of the best things he’s done passing-wise actually is something he hasn’t done. He hasn’t turned the ball over. He is tied for sixth in interception percentage (1.6) with just five picks in 320 attempts and has lost just one fumble in the Eagles’ first 11 games.

Where Hurts has made a dramatic difference this season, however, has been as a runner. He heads into Sunday’s important division game against the Giants ranked ninth in the league in rushing (618 yards), third in rushing first downs (45), fourth in runs of 10 yards or more (22), and fifth in rushing touchdowns (8).

In last week’s 40-29 win over the Saints, Hurts became the first quarterback in franchise history to record three rushing touchdowns in one game. He needs just two more to match Michael Vick’s season record for rushing TDs by a quarterback (10) and could make a run at Cam Newton’s NFL record (14).

The Eagles have had the league’s most dominant rushing attack the last four weeks. They’ve rushed for 870 yards in wins over the Lions, Broncos, and Saints and a three-point loss to the Chargers. Hurts has 257 of those yards. They’ve amassed 58 rushing first downs in those four games. Hurts has 20 of those, including seven last week against the Saints – six on third down.

Hurts has 114 rushing attempts in the first 11 games. That’s the 21st most carries in the league and puts him on pace for 176 carries in this, the NFL’s first 17-game season. That would tie the league record for rush attempts in a season by a quarterback, set by the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson in 2019. Jackson, though, is on pace for 180 carries himself.

Hurts had 18 rushing attempts against the Saints on Sunday, equaling the 18 he had in his first career start last December, also against the Saints.

In the Eagles’ first seven games, they averaged just 23.4 rush attempts per game and had a 38.9 run-play percentage. Hurts averaged 34.6 pass attempts per game in those first seven games.

But Nick Sirianni flipped the script in Week 8 and became more run-based. The Eagles have averaged 43.5 rush attempts per game the last four weeks. Their run-play percentage in those four games has skyrocketed to 66.9. Hurts’ pass-attempt average the last four weeks has dropped to a much more manageable 19.5.

While Hurts’ pass attempts have gone down, his rush attempts have gone up. He has averaged 12 carries per game the last four weeks, up from 9.4 in the Eagles’ first seven games. Is that sustainable for a quarterback, even one who’s built like a fullback? I guess we’ll find out.

MORE ON EAGLES RUN GAME

  • The Eagles’ 174 rush attempts in the last four games are the most in the NFL over that period. The Patriots are second with 142. Carolina is third with 130.
  • Their 58 rushing first downs in the last four games are 17 more than the next team – the Colts and NFL rushing leader Jonathan Taylor.
  • In their last four games, the Eagles are averaging more than a hundred rushing yards per game more than they did in their first seven games – 217.5 to 116.7.
  • The Eagles’ 29 runs of 10 yards or more in the last four games are six more than they had in their first seven games.
  • The Eagles have averaged 5.5 yards per carry on first down in their wins over the Broncos and Saints. Miles Sanders had 94 yards on 16 carries against the Saints after missing three games with an ankle injury. Seventy-eight of those yards came on first down.
  • Fifty of Hurts’ 69 rushing yards against the Saints came on third down. Six of his seven third-down runs resulted in first downs, including two of his three touchdowns.
  • The Eagles are second in the league in first-down rush average (5.1) and third in second-down rush average (5.0). Miles Sanders is averaging 6.0 yards per carry on first down. Two hundred sixty of his 394 rushing yards have come on first down. Jordan Howard is averaging 5.7 yards per carry on first down and 5.8 on second down.
  • In their last four games, the Eagles are averaging 5.8 yards per carry with 11-personnel (88-512), 4.1 with 12P (54-223) and 4.0 with 13P (31-123). Hurts is averaging 7.4 yards per carry with 11P in the last four games (29-214).

PERSONNEL GROUPING UPDATE

  • Fifty-four of the Eagles’ 77 offensive plays (70.1%) against the Saints were with 11-personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR). The Eagles ran the ball 30 times with 11P and gained 169 yards (5.6). Hurts completed 12 of 21 passes for 124 yards with 11P.
  • The Eagles used 12- and 13-personnel 23 times. Twenty of those 23 plays were runs (for 73 yards). In their last three games, the Eagles have used 12- and 13P a total of 63 times. Fifty-six of those 63 plays were runs.
  • Sirianni has used 11-personnel on 468 of 681 plays this season (68.7%). He’s used 12/13P on 199 plays (29.2%). When the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017, Doug Pederson used 11P 65% of the time. He used it 60.9% last year, 40.9% in 2019, and 53.7% in 2018.

THIRD-DOWN IMPROVEMENT

  • The Eagles have converted 53.6% of their third downs (37 of 69) in the last five games. That’s a dramatic improvement over the first six games when they converted just 38.9% (28 of 72). Overall, the Eagles have the fourth-best third-down success rate in the league (46.1), behind only the Chiefs (51.5), the Bills (50.0), and the Bucs (48.0).
  • The Eagles have converted 69.2% of their third downs of five yards or less (27 of 39) in the last five games. In their first six games, they converted just 51.3% (20 of 39). A big reason for the change there has been Hurts’ running. He has run for 11 first downs (on 14 carries) on third-and-five-or-less in the last five games. He had just five (on six carries) in the first six games.
  • The Eagles converted 12 of 21 third downs against the Saints Sunday. As mentioned earlier, Hurts ran for six of those first downs. He also completed six of 10 passes for 95 yards on third down. Five of those six completions resulted in first downs. So, he had a hand in 11 of the Eagles’ 12 third-down conversions against the Saints.
  • Hurts’ overall third-down passing numbers aren’t very good. He’s 15th in third-down passing (95.0) and 30th in third-down completion percentage (53.3) among quarterbacks with at least 40 third-down pass attempts. Just 29 of his 75 third-down passes (38.7%) have resulted in first downs. Ten of his 20 sacks have been on third down.

DEFENSE GETTING OFF TO BETTER STARTS

  • Jonathan Gannon’s defense has given up just seven first-quarter points in the last five games. In their first six games, they gave up a league-high 48.
  • The defense hasn’t allowed any points to an opponent on its first possession in the last five games. The Saints game was just the third time this season that the defense shut out an opponent on both its first and second possessions.

MORE GOOD STAT STUFF

  • Five of the Eagles’ 13 possessions against the Saints started at their own 40 or better. Their average drive start was the 33.0 yard line. The Eagles have had an average drive start of the 33 or better four times this season. They won all four of those games. Their only win with a drive start below 33 was against the Broncos (22.2).
  • In their last three games, the Eagles have run 22.2% of their plays from under center, including 18 of 77 plays Sunday against the Saints. They ran the ball on 16 of those 18 under-center plays, gaining just 36 yards.
  • Hurts was 0-for-3 on 20-plus-yard throws Sunday. For the season, he’s 16-for-49 (32.6%). Four of his five interceptions have come on deep balls.
  • The Eagles ran four screen plays against the Saints. They picked up 25 yards on those four plays. Screens to Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith each gained 14 yards. Screens to Jalen Reagor and Boston Scott lost one and two yards respectively.
  • In 11 games, the Eagles have run 45 screen plays. They completed 44 of them for 274 yards (6.2 yards per play). Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins have been the most frequent targets on screens. Reagor has 11 for 43 yards. Watkins has nine for 35. Reagor, the Eagles’ 2020 first-round pick, only has 12 other receptions besides the 11 screens.
  • In the last four games, the Eagles’ average time of possession has been 33:20. In their first seven games, it was 26:07.
  • The Eagles defense has one or no sacks in seven of 11 games.

Paul Domowitch has covered pro football for five decades and has been a Hall of Fame selector since 2001. You can reach Paul at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @pdomo.

Subscribe to the JAKIB Media YouTube page to watch BIRDS 365 every day as well as Football 24/7

Eagles Report is a partnership between Philly Mag and JAKIB Media Partners.